A lot has happened in the 60 years since Joe started this company. LaForce Inc. has gone through changes in name, products, services, technology, and so much more. While LaForce has evolved, so has our industry and, of course, the world in which we live. Through our four part blog series, we’ll take a deeper look at how our company, our industry, and culture have changed over the past 60 years. In this second part of our series, let’s look at how LaForce grew from a small hardware business to one of the largest distributors of its kind in the United States.
The business’s early years set it up well for new adventures in the 1960s. In response to growing needs in the commercial construction industry, LaForce opened its first frame shop followed by its first wood shop. The result: business was booming. At the end of the decade, new bending and cutting machines were purchased to expand our capabilities and drive us into the future.
While the 1960s focused on growing our manufacturing business, the next decade inaugurated new technology and new endeavors. In 1971, LaForce rented its first IBM computer. The very next year, an office was opened in Manitowoc and the main Green Bay facility moved to its present location on West Mason Street. With business going strong in the Green Bay area, LaForce ventured into new markets. In 1974, we landed our first Chicago job, a Sears Warehouse facility.
Despite the recession that shadowed the early 80s, LaForce continued to grow. Computerization became more integrated in the business, improving our capabilities. As the business grew, so did the need for offices in new markets. Before the decade’s end, two offices were opened – one in Chicago and one in Milwaukee. Over the next 25 years, we added eight more locations and covered Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Arizona.
All of this market growth needed to be supported by well-trained employees. Therefore, LaForce divided our work and employees into departments, allowing each department and its employees to become experts in their fields. Departments include sales, estimating, engineering, wood doors, hollow metal doors and frames, building specialties and others.
Another way LaForce has grown and evolved is through the addition of more products and services, areas in which we’ve been on the leading edge in our industry. Nearly 20 years ago, we began offering electronic hardware and access control. Today, we offer a wide variety of security products supported by a team of security integration experts. Other services that we’ve added include specification writing, fire door inspections, keying, installation, pre-installation, and pre-finishing.
LaForce’s growth is far from over as we continue to look for new opportunities and technologies. Check out our next blog in this series to learn about how the industry affected LaForce’s growth.