Schweiss Bi-Fold Doors
Designer doors—the new world of bi-folds
When Mike Schweiss designed and began marketing bi-fold doors in the early`80s, machine sheds for farm equipment and airport hangars across the upper Midwest were his primary customers. In fact, more than 90 percent of the Schweiss bi-fold doors were sold to farmers and private pilots that first decade.
However, the old proverb about building a better mousetrap began generating some interesting, even unusual requests for Schweiss Bi-Folds. The net result is “designer doors” are rapidly emerging as a new focus for this rural Minnesota manufacturer.
“Over the years, we’ve established contacts throughout the country, even overseas in Japan, Denmark and the United Kingdom,” Schweiss says. “We’ve especially noted more architects and building contractors calling. Soon we were getting requests for bi-folds for use in structures ranging from horse arenas to university environmental buildings to Harley Davidson dealers. And even a special glass door for the new Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.”
Giving customers the choice has dramatically changed the marketing world of Schweiss Bi-Folds, says Sales Team Leader Julie Schafer. She credits the architectural world for being a huge catalyst in the rapidly growing market for specially designed Schweiss doors. “Architects appreciate the fact that we can and do custom manufacture virtually every door through our factory,” she notes. “This means architects and builders can do unique things with the closures of their projects, be it colors, wood, steel, stucco or even glass for the outside skin—plus special features such as remote control, auto latch arms, and a variety of window designs.
“We like to say designer doors are now in vogue, and we just happen to be the manufacturer that can produce just about anything a particular project needs,” Schafer adds.
Indeed. A partial listing of recent Schweiss door projects includes:
- Bi-fold glass doors, power-driven from the topside, for a new Ecology Center for Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.
- A 50-foot-by-18-foot door for a 100-foot-by-300-foot horse arena in New York.
- For the new $125 million Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, a 16-foot-by-16-foot solid glass door that opens vertically and becomes part of an Intermission Break area, extending 75 feet above street level and overlooking the Mississippi River.
- At Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, a 25.5 foot-by-14.5-foot glass door on an $80 million, 130,000-square-foot, glass-walled building called the Center For Fitness, Recreation and Athletics.
- In Montana, a three-car garage door with artistic windows and specially designed redwood siding that gives the impression of a solid wall until activated by remote control, then opens to a 40-foot-by-12-foot, three-stall garage.
- In California, a 60-foot-by-18-foot designer door fronts a garage that shelters the owner’s helicopter and vehicle.
- A Minnesota lakeshore homeowner who drives a gleaming black Jaguar ordered a bi-fold to complement both automobile and lake-shore property.
- In Hawaii, a Harley Davidson dealer needing exposure on all three sides of his dealership got it with three walls fitted to glass bi-folds, which also lets him wheel out his Harleys from any location within his store.
- At the new Philadelphia Phillies baseball park, six bi-folds, all with glass fronts, are the closure mechanism for the Press Box 80 feet above home plate.
- At the fashionable Sidney’s Restaurant in The Galleria in Edina, Minn., bi-fold “windows” provide diners viewing access to the indoor mall arena encompassing the restaurant.
- R & M Steel in Boise, Idaho, designed a fortress appearance for its new office structure, and used bi-folds for frontage on this unique 100-foot-by- 100-foot building.
- At Turtle Farms in Gibbon, Minn., a huge 34-footwide by 17-foot-tall, 2,875-pound hydraulic door provides quick access to a geo-thermal-heated farm shop.
Never Say Never
Admittedly, the new world of designer doors provides unique challenges to the engineers and metal men at Schweiss Bi-Fold’s rural Minnesota factory. However, tinkering with new ideas is what propelled Mike Schweiss into the manufacturing business 24 years ago. His team of builders, craftsmen and skilled installation crews has yet to say “no” to a project.
“We find a way to work every request through the manufacturing process one way or another,” Schweiss says. “If it means restructuring certain cutting and welding procedures, that’s what we do.”
Though the company’s patented Lift-Strap system has been the closing mechanism of choice for most customers, a Schweiss Hydraulic door was also added to the lineup this year. The new hydraulic system lets the customer fit the door to an existing building without revamping the supporting structure of the building. As a solid, one-piece construction assembly, the Schweiss hydraulic is available in any size and utilizes only a minimum 4-inch headroom.
For more information, call 800.746.8273; visit www.bifold.com.