Origins of Our Name: “LaForce” = “Strength”

 “LaForce” is a French word that means “Strength.” This definition is a fitting testimonial to our 62-year history of excellence and prosperity. Let’s hear from a number of LaForce leaders as they reflect on what “LaForce = Strength” means to them!

Legacy of Joe LaForce

As LaForce, Inc has expanded beyond its humble 1954 beginnings, many leaders credit the values of the late Joe LaForce as the bedrock of continued success.

“When I think of LaForce and strength I immediately think of our company’s founder, Joe LaForce. Joe was strong, rugged, compact, to the point, and very bright.” – Ken Metzler, Chairman

Glenn Obry, LaForce’s longest-tenured employee (45 years) reflects on Joe’s legacy:  He says that Joe always kept the big picture in mind but also paid attention to the small details. Glenn also sees how LaForce takes employees and their families into consideration when making decisions, which is another sign of strength and integrity. He also cited “stability” as a hallmark of LaForce’s strength.

LaForce Means StrengthBusiness Stability

LaForce has grown steadily in the course of the past 60 years, even through economic downturns. This can be attributed to smart business decisions and talented employees.

“To me, “strength” means an experienced, financially strong and trustworthy organization providing expertise and commercial door opening and security solutions that help make the buildings in our communities more safe and secure.” – John Knier, Vice President

Talent and Experience

“LaForce’s biggest strength is their people. We have extremely bright and talented people. Together we have the strength to grow, be innovative, and be leaders within the door and hardware industry, as well as in the communities which we serve.” – Jill Pruski, Controller and Treasurer

Without dedicated team members, LaForce would not be in the position it is today. Our President and CEO, Brian Mannering, identifies human capital as LaForce’s most valuable asset:

“LaForce possesses strength in people and the vast knowledge we have amongst them. That is a significant resource which we can draw on to provide solutions for our various customers. This “strength” is what matters most to them.” – Brian Mannering, President/CEO

Why does this particular strength matter? Committed workers and customer satisfaction go hand-in-hand.

“LaForce is built on the strength of character held by the hard-working people who call it home. This strength is on display every day as people communicate frankly with customers about problems. LaForce is successful due to the strength of commitment its people have to doing the best job they can to solve customer’s needs.  When solving a customer’s problem, they don’t just take the easy road; they research multiple possibilities to come up with the best solution for the situation.” – Jeff McGlachlin, Vice President

Industry Leadership

“It’s nice to be part of a company that is a leader in the industry. LaForce is a force to be reckoned with. As part of one of the largest distributors in the country who is progressive with industry changes (most recently fire door inspections, pre-installation, and security integration), employees are constantly offered new opportunities for growth on both personal and professional levels. There seems to be an immediate respect from competitors and other industry professionals when they learn that you are part of the LaForce team.” – Kristi Dietz, Engineering Training Manager

Expansions into new products, services, and markets is a constant theme around the company. In the past 15 years, LaForce has added eight of its 12 office locations, and successfully forayed into many complementary lines of business.

“To me, LaForce means quality and integrity in its employees, and in the solutions we provide to our customers.” –John Gillis, Director of Aftermarket Sales & Security Integration

But a company is made up of more than just goods and services. At LaForce’s core is a set of ethics, beliefs, and business standards.

Consistency in Values

“”LaForce Strength” equals commitment to our employees, customers and this industry. Our company is strong because of our belief in this commitment.” – Patrick Connelly, Director of Contract Sales

“Strength in our industry, our culture and our employees and customer relationships.” – Tom Gaible, Cincinnati Office Manager

Last year, we explored the origin and meaning behind LaForce’s Mission Statement and Core Values. These simple principles are more than just words – they serve as our compass, and keep us aligned on a reliable path as we grow our business.

Our leaders define strength in different ways – now, what does strength mean to you? Comment below or find us on social media! Next week, we will explore company strengths as they relate to specific services.

LaForce Means Strength


Building Protection 101: Understanding Masterkeying

LaForce’s keying experts design effective keying systems that maintain superior building security. We guide building owners and facility managers throughout the keying process. When planning a key system, we consider the current system’s functions and potential future needs. Customers often request a key that opens one door, but not another. “Can we make it so that Door A opens with Key A and Key B, but not Key C?”

The short answer is most likely: “Yes!”

With masterkeying, LaForce can design and implement a key system that allows specific and select brass keys to pass different key cylinders. And that is the crucial concept: most of masterkeying’s magic actually happens within the lock cylinder, not the key.

Why is this significant?

Simpler is often better, more reliable, and less expensive. As we ask our key cylinder to pass more keys in more situations, the chances that a false key will also pass increases. As a rule of thumb in masterkeying, the more restrictive and secure the system (such as patented keyways, signature-authorized technologies, etc.), the more expensive and more difficult it will be to get new keys made, or make quick changes down-the-road.

The opposite is also true: a system that has patent-expired or “open” technology (uses inexpensive replacement keys that are available at any local hardware store) can be serviced by any local locksmith, and is inherently less secure.

Security is a balance of trade-offs. Often, conversations that begin with keying questions are resolved by educating the customer about how masterkeyed systems work, where specific trade-offs lie, and how they would like to balance cost and ease-of-service against absolute security. There is no one right answer or universal solution to fit all buildings, but  LaForce staff can help customers find the correct balance between ease-of-use and security. More information about our keying services can be found here and here.

We want to answer your door industry-related questions! Our wide range of expertise include DoorsFramesHardwareKeyingSecurity IntegrationBuilding SpecialtiesArchitectural ServicesFire Door InspectionsPre-InstallationInstallation, and Custom Pre-Finishing. Submit a question by commenting on this blog or on our social media posts, or email.

Special thanks to Mike Morse, a LaForce Building Products Consultant in Madison, WI. He also contributed practical tips in these previous blogs:

Trade Associations Signal Strength


LaForce encourages employees to join relevant trade associations, in addition to our corporate memberships. Over the years, we have accumulated quite a few memberships that we are proud to advertise. These associations assist our company and our employees with connections and certifications, and solidify our strong reputation. Take a look at our current association list, below!


Associated General Contractors of America
Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Austin
Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Greater Milwaukee
Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Wisconsin
Associated General Contractors – Construction Leadership Council (includes Austin and Greater Milwaukee)
American Institute of Architects (AIA) – CES Provider
American Institute of Architects (AIA) – Wisconsin
Allied Construction Industries
American Society for Healthcare Engineering
American Society of Professional Estimators
American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS)
Association of Subcontractors and Affiliates – Chicago
Brown County Home Builders Association
Capitol Area Maintenance & Operations (CAMO)
City of Cincinnati Contractor Registration
Construction Association of Michigan
Construction Specifications Institute (CSI)
Contractors Association of Will & Grundy Counties (CAWGC)
Door & Hardware Institute
Green Bay Chamber of Commerce
Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society
Institute for Supply Management
International Code Council(part of International Building Code (IBC))
International Facility Management Association (IFMA)
Intertek – Certified Inspectors
Lake County Contractors Association
Michigan Association of School Business Officials (MASBO)
National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers (NAAMM)(includes Hollow Metal Manufacturer’s Association (HMMA))
National Association of Women in Construction
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
The Reference Library
Small Business Advocacy Council (SBAC)
Security Industry Association (SIA)
U.S. Green Building Council
Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials (WASBO)
Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce


What is a “Door Closer” and Why Should I Care?


What’s that thing on top of your door that closes it behind you?

It’s a closer.

We often hear these referred to as “closures,” “closer-arms,” and “arms.” A closer is an adjustable, spring-loaded mechanism filled with hydraulic fluid that dampens the door swing. Closer hydraulic fluid is very similar to what is found in the shocks on the suspension of your car. And just like the shocks on your car, when the seals fail and the hydraulic fluid leaks out, it’s time to replace them! A building owner or facility manager should be aware of the basic maintenance and upkeep on door closers.

Indications that a closer may be failing include:

  • Leaked oil stains on the door
  • A door that slams or proceeds faster through the swing-cycle than it used to
  • A closer that will no longer take adjustments.

Failed closers can be dangerous. Without a controlled swing, doors can slam and pinch fingers, or fly open into people or other parts of the building. This can cause additional damage and maintenance issues. In fact, there are building codes and standards focused on providing handicap accessibility that set specific restrictions on how fast a closer can close a door. If the closer slams the door, or makes the door too hard to open, the door may be in violation of these codes.

Also, to maintain its fire-rating, a fire-rated door must be installed with a working closer. If the closer is not closing the door completely, the fire protection of the building can be compromised.

So, if a door isn’t closing, does that mean a failed closer is to blame? Not necessarily. Issues like frost heave, door sag, and frame condition can all play a part in proper door operation.

Rely on your LaForce representative to guide you in troubleshooting your door maintenance questions!

Special thanks to Mike Morse, a LaForce Building Products Consultant in Madison, WI. He also contributed practical tips in these previous blogs:



Is Your Healthcare Facility Safe and Secure?

CASE STUDY: LaForce helped a Wisconsin hospital take control of its security needs.

Security is integral to the safe, successful operation of any healthcare facility. With access to a wide range of products and our own in-house staff of expert technicians, LaForce is a superior resource for all facility security needs. Here is an example of how we helped one local hospital improve their security system.

Initially, the hospital asked LaForce’s security integration team to replace a small, out-of-date access control system, consisting of only a few doors. But as we collaborated with facility staff on the extent of their actual security needs, the project grew to encompass quite a bit more.

We added approximately 70 openings, including interior and exterior doors, on three different buildings. The new access system also includes stairwells and elevator access, which limits users to only the floors they are authorized to visit. We also installed a network of IP cameras monitoring the interior and exterior of the buildings.

In addition, we installed an emergency lockdown of all exterior doors. With the press of a button, all “scheduled open doors” will lock on command and suspend card access use, except for a few top level cards held by security staff.

We greatly simplified training and support for the hospital, with the addition of LaForce’s online support program. With this set-up, our LaForce Security Technician can remotely log onto the healthcare facility’s PC and walk staff through the creation of schedules, card user access, group access, and more. This program also allows our staff to update, program, and troubleshoot equipment, which greatly reduces customer costs that would have been required with on-site visits.

The operation and continued growth of this system has been seamless and successful. We look forward to helping more healthcare facilities with their security needs!

For more information, please contact the LaForce Security Team at 1.855.231.5511 or

Download this case study as a PDF:

LaForce Inc Security in Healthcare Case Stuy


Fire Rated vs. Fire Exit Door: What’s the Difference?

Here at LaForce, we often hear: “I need a price on a fire door.”

Our first question is always: “Do you mean a door that is fire-rated, or a fire exit door that exits to the exterior of the building for use in an emergency?”

The difference between a fire-rated door and a fire exit door can be night-and-day, but since they are both commonly called “fire doors” in our industry, it confuses many well-intentioned customers. Material that is fire-rated is designed to serve as a fire-stop or partition, to block the spread of fire; while fire exit doors are designed to allow quick and safe egress out of an occupied space, usually to the exterior of the building.

Some common examples:

  • The door with the red exit sign out of the movie theater leading into the parking lot? That would be a fire exit door.
  • The door in your house or place of work that separates flammable storage (like a garage) from the living space? That would be a fire-rated door.

Some fire exit doors can also be fire-rated, like a fire-rated stairwell in a multi-story parking garage.

Confused yet!?

Rely on your LaForce representative to help guide you through the process of determining what you need, and avoid spending extra money on unneeded materials.

Special thanks to Mike Morse, a LaForce Building Products Consultant in Madison, WI. He also contributed practical tips in this previous blog: Repair or Replace? Five Questions to Ask About Your Old Door(s)

Fire exit door - LaForce Inc
Fire exit doors are designed to allow quick and safe egress out of an occupied space, usually to the exterior of the building.


Fire Rated Door - LaForce Inc
Fire-rated doors are designed to serve a a fire-stop or partition, to stop the spread of fire.



Supporting Excellence in Healthcare Engineering at WHEA Trade Show

LaForce participates in a number of high-profile trade shows every year. This fall, we kick off with one in Green Bay: The Wisconsin Healthcare Engineering Association (WHEA)’s annual conference!

What is WHEA?

The Wisconsin Healthcare Engineering Association is a premier organization providing quality education, advocacy, and outreach within the healthcare community. As a member of WHEA, LaForce is committed to the organization’s mission, which also demonstrates a dedication to codes, standards, and compliance.

Why should I attend the conference?

This is an annual opportunity for healthcare facility managers and engineers to collaborate on current industry developments, new technologies, and relevant code updates. The conference agenda includes expert speakers, code updates pertaining to hospitals and nursing homes, networking opportunities, and of course, the annual technical exhibition.

What will I experience at the exhibition?

Manufacturers and distributors who serve the healthcare industry in Wisconsin will showcase their goods and services during the trade show portion of the conference. LaForce has been an integral participant in the annual trade show, and we look forward to introducing you to a number of innovations and exclusive offerings.

What is new at the 2016 LaForce booth?

This event is a key opportunity for LaForce staff to network with new and current customers, as well as display our newest offerings in products and services during the trade show. This year, we will showcase our popular Pre-Installation service with hands-on samples; information about our Architectural Services team’s latest AIA class offerings; and our newest Security Integration capabilities in video surveillance.

Stop by our booth, conveniently located at Booth 102/104 in the convention room, to meet the members of our team in attendance:

2016 WHEA Trade Show - LaForce Inc


We hope to see you there! Follow our participation on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.