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American Door Works

Gary Bechtold
American Door Works

Class of 2008

Gary Bechtold's business was known as St. Cloud Overhead Door Co. when his business acumen and community involvement landed him in the Class of 2008.

What are you doing now?

Owner/president at American Door Works & Mid Central Door Co.

How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?

I received the award within a year of purchasing the companies from my father, so the award recognition helped communicate the transition that had occurred within our businesses. I also met some other great, young leaders who have become good friends.

Other big changes since you received the award?

Lots of other good (and a few crazy) things have happened to me since I received the award. I became a three-time "Jeopardy!" champion, we welcomed triplet girls into our family, I expanded the business and changed the company name. It's been a lot of work, but a lot of fun too.

What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?

I'm excited for the initiatives the Greater St. Cloud Development Corp. is working on, to help keep and attract young, talented people to our community.

2008 Interview

Originally ran: January 1, 2009

Gary Bechtold enjoys the daily variety that comes from owning his own company. He likes to be in charge of his own schedule. He loves the challenge of leadership. He enjoys working with people and working as a team.

And he is happy to carry on the legacy of his father, who started St. Cloud Overhead Door Co. in 1972 — all while making his own mark on the company and in the community. 

Bechtold started as an administrative assistant in 1995, working for his dad when he graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a mechanical engineering degree.

Fast-forward 12 years to 2007, when Bechtold bought the company from his dad. But he had already taken over day-to-day operations in 2003, knowing the day would come when he would be the last stop for budget and strategy decisions, setting vision and tone for the organization.

And here he is.

Since he's taken over the company, he has spearheaded a strategic planning program that helped the company prosper. The company has weathered a major economic slowdown by planning. By communicating with customers, talking to people in the community and reading about economic trends, they could see the storm coming.

In 2003 the company expanded to Brainerd, where the housing market has stayed more active than that of St. Cloud. Expanding to the area helped the company work in a community where it previously didn't have an opportunity to do business.

It has also done work in commercial markets, since new-home construction and other residential businesses have slowed. In the residential market, he finds more people fixing what they have rather than buying new.

Not all his decisions have been easy. 

Although the company has avoided layoffs, two years ago it didn't give raises. Last year it eliminated the 401(k) match incentive plan. Under Bechtold's leadership, the company has managed well during a recession. It's likely not a coincidence that Bechtold has carried out the goals of a growing company when many other companies' growth is stagnant. He is practical. 

As he talks about the future, he says it doesn't include plans to expand more, and needs to maintain what it is.

And he keeps a reasonable, balanced schedule so he comes to work refreshed — usually working 40-hour weeks.

When Bechtold is at work, he said his biggest concern is that his staff have what they need to do their jobs. 

He says he has a great team — people who he takes joy in watching succeed and people with whom he shares the company's success. "I couldn't do any of this on my own," he said.

He specifically points to his management team. 

Together they build consensus and share a vision, he said. 

As a leader, he is transparent with employees about the company's financial standing. 

For Bechtold, it's all in a day's work.

Age: 36.

Job: President, St. Cloud Overhead Door Co. and Mid-Central Door in Waite Park.

Family: Wife, Kay; one daughter, Sylvie, 18 months. 

Hometown: Jacobs Prairie.

Education: Mechanical engineering degree from Notre Dame.

Community involvement: He has been involved with Tri-County Crime Stoppers, Emerging Leaders Forum, the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce and the Church of St. Joseph.

What he does for fun: Spending time with family, running 5K and 10K races, playing video games such as "Guitar Hero" and discovering new indie rock.

Favorite type of books: Historical nonfiction and fiction.

What's in his pockets: Cell phone, keys and wallet.

Fact: He auditioned for "Jeopardy!" earlier this year and is on the call list for the show.

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