Coming soon: Installation Training in a Remote World

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With fewer people wishing to travel to Michigan for installation classes, we have decided to create a more robust Total Door Training Institute on our website. We want to create the entire installation training course as an online option.

To kick it off, we recently shot an installation video for our new SafeFrame™ product in our corporate showroom. John Pierre walks you through step-by-step instructions to install the entire system. It is the first of many to come.

We will introduce the complete video to you soon, as well as additional materials on SafeFrame.

Improvements for today. And tomorrow.

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As part of our ongoing efforts to create continuous improvement in our company, our process and our product, we have recently worked with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) to run a couple of Kaizen events.

The first Kaizen event took place in August focusing on our aluminum fabrication department. The second one took place in October, focusing on shipping and receiving. A third one is scheduled to go over our quality process. Eventually, we will do one for every part of the plant and even some departments in our home office.

Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning “good change.” Toyota referred to it as “continuous change” and used it in the 80s to improve quality and efficiency. Today, it’s part of lean manufacturing. It helps a company find and eliminate issues, shorten lead times and eliminate waste – both in materials and process. It is not a tool for eliminating people or demanding more without providing tools and strategies to do so.

A Kaizen event involves all of Total Door’s area experts, the plant manager, members of the executive team and the people who actually work in the area we are focusing on. It begins with a brainstorm outlining the things we want to address and areas that are of concern. Then we go into that area of the plant and start mapping out the processes involved.

For instance, in the aluminum fabricating area, we used the Kaizen process to look for where there was waste, including waste of movement. What does overproduction add into the process? How much waiting time is there and what does it add to the process? How does the layout affect it? We did a spaghetti diagram to see if there was too much time walking around in the process and adjusted the work flow.

Once we had the data and a plan of action, we went to work. We cleaned the whole area and got rid of old and outdated materials that no longer added to the process or needed to be there.

When we were done, we had 15 items to follow up on. It took us 30 days to achieve them. But it was well worth it. The department before this struggled to get a good score in our weekly 5S (Sort, Set In Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain). Since our Kaizen event, it has consistently gotten 100% in their 5S. They are doing a great job following the new processes and keeping everything in it’s place.

By the time we have completed an event for every department, we will not only see improvement that everyone has been involved in, but we will have documented, sustainable, repeatable processes and procedures that will help when something new comes our way.

This is important since our business is all about creating customized doors. Things change every manufacturing cycle. Having processes in place that everyone is familiar with will keep us creating new and better products, no matter what your clients need in the future.

The more you know… your code.

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Most of our life safety conversations begin with an explanation of what the code requires. To support those conversations, we are planning an expansion of the “Know Your Code” section of our website. It will deliver more in-depth information that embodies the words “We’re the experts, so that you don’t have to be.”

This expanded section will have more product specific information. It will also map out how Total Door’s labeling, with code-specific information, is unique in our marketplace.

The Know Your Code page currently has a short list of need-to-know requirements related to elevator lobbies and door testing, including code-specific information for IBC and ASME, that can be downloaded. Here are the code sheets available now:

  • UL 1784 – Standards for Air Leakage Tests
  • IBC 3006.2.1 – Standards for Corridors Adjacent to Hoistway Openings
  • ASME A 17.1 – Standards for Additional Doors on Hoistway Openings

Lights, Camera … Here’s your sneak peek of SafeFrame’s close up!

We recently shot video and still photos of our new SafeFrame™ product in our corporate showroom. We think you’ll agree – it’s definitely going to turn heads!

How to Run a Successful AIA Lunch & Learn

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Running an AIA Lunch & Learn is a win-win proposition for you and for architects. AIA Lunch & Learns give architects one continuing HSW education credit and gives you a great chance to interact with them, learn what is important to them, and give them vital information on smoke containment systems and life safety codes.

Today, most Lunch & Learns are provided virtually.  Remote sessions do allow the opportunity to provide lunch if most of the architects are attending from the same firm and location.

Don’t be shy about scheduling a Lunch & Learn for a date as far out as six months. In our experience, architectural firm gatekeepers are reporting that many firms are booked up far in advance. But even a distant date gets you on the books and starts the conversation.

Be prepared to provide a summary of the program up front. You can find the summaries for each class in your Sales Rep portal on the Total Door website. You’ll also find signup sheets for the class in that same area of the site.

Be prepared to confirm your presentation as the date approaches, and possibly to offer some additional dates that may work for a rescheduled session.

If you would like some backup during the presentation, Candace Kitchen, our Customer Service Representative, can schedule Jack Robbins, our Code Compliance Specialist, or herself to “sit in the back” of your session. Jack and Candace also provide the option of running your Lunch & Learn, to allow you to get acclimated to the typical flow of the sessions.

A typical program runs about 50 minutes. That leaves an additional 10 minutes to answer questions, or to discuss products and benefits. AIA prohibits company-specific sales conversation during the 50-minute program. However, you will likely have the opportunity at the end to ask if the architects are working on projects that could benefit from Total Door Systems.

Follow up is important. Sign-up sheets must be submitted to Candace for the architects to receive their continuing education credit. The sheets also provide contact information for architects at the firm. Sending a personal note of thanks is a meaningful gesture to start your relationship off on the right foot.

If you have any questions, call Candace or Jack any time. We have your back!

Still the Fastest Path to a Sale

Door Builder

If you or your distributors haven’t fully embraced our DoorBuilder tool yet or if you’ve just gotten out of the habit, we’d like to remind you it is the fastest, easiest way to configure Total Door Systems and deliver a quote. It saves time and money. Plus, you can do it from just about anywhere, at any time.

DoorBuilder has been updated to include our new SafeFrame product. Using DoorBuilder you can quickly and easily quote and submit an order from any device with an internet connection – your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. It also gives you instant access to all projects quoted by your distributors.

If you need a refresher, review the DoorBuilder webinar. It’s a quick and easy tutorial, giving you an overview on how you can use this powerful tool to make processing sales easier and getting leads faster.

You can also review the tips we’ve shared this past year. In tip #1, we shared how to add, subtract and organize the columns in your DoorBuilder tool. In tip #2, we showed you how to search the tool by keyword. Finally, tip #3 showed you how to view a quote from one of your distributors.

If you have any issues, questions or suggestions about the DoorBuilder tool, please let us know.

Patrica Yulkowski, CEO, recognized by Vistage Michigan Group as ‘Soaring Eagle’

Patricia Yulkowski Vistage Award

Patricia Yulkowski, President and CEO of Total Door Systems was recognized with the “Soaring Eagle” award by a group of her Vistage Michigan peers during its virtual summit held Friday, September 25.

The prestigious award from Vistage, one of the largest and oldest executive coaching organizations in the nation, is presented to the member of a collection of executive groups that exemplify the leadership, problem solving, and service to other members that the organization works to foster among its members.

“In service to others would best capture the frame of mind of Patricia,” commented one executive member during the recognition event.

Patricia Yulkowski is second-generation CEO and President to the privately held, American-owned and operated Total Door Systems.

For nearly a half century, Total Door Systems has custom designed, built and installed fully integrated door systems that lead the industry in performance, innovation, and fire and smoke safety.

Under Yulkowski’s leadership, Total Door Systems in 2009 moved into a new facility and over a three-year period remade the company around LEAN manufacturing and continuous improvement principles focused on quality, sustainability and local sourcing. Their results: a 250 percent increase in capacity, 30 percent increase in efficiency, 40 percent consumption of natural resources, 50 percent reduction in emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), and 99 percent on-time delivery.

Local sourcing and sustainability are achieved with 98 percent of materials locally sourced, 25 percent recycled steel, 80 percent post-consumer content and 20 percent post-industrial recycled materials.

Yulkowski has directed heavy investment in team learning and education, as well as innovation and product development to ensure continuous relevancy and engagement. Employee engagement has increased by more than 40 percent during the past six months, and the investment has resulted in Total Door Systems being recognized for its manufacturing excellence and leadership by both the MMTC and the Society for Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

Yulkowski is a current member of the American Institute of Architects Michigan. She serves on the board of the American National Standards Institute/Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association Subcommittee (ANSI/BHMA), where she was also the immediate past president of the organization. Yulkowski also serves on the International Code Council, the primary, global organization that develops and establishes the model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process. Yulkowski was also tapped by Oakland County Executive David Coulter to serve on the county’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Task Force.


Total Door Systems 6145 Delfield Dr, Waterford, Michigan 48329
Ph: (800) 852-6660 | Fax: (248) 623-6866 |

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