Lewisville’s Overhead Door, Innovator of the Modern Garage Door and Garage Door Opener, Celebrates 100th Birthday

This throwback look at Dallas-area innovation icon Overhead Door Brand shows two of its breakthrough products since 1921. Today, the company just keeps on innovating. Its garage doors can now be operated from the other side of the world with a smartphone—luckily for you, if you forget to close your door before your next vacation.

Most garage doors used to be a huge, single, heavy expanse of wood with a grip handle in front. To open it, you had to leverage your weight near the ground, bend your knees 90 degrees-plus, then tug the whole thing skyward like an Olympic weight lifter as the door banged against its frame, while you backed away in terror. At least, that’s how I opened my grandpa’s garage door.

C.G. Johnson, founder of Overhead Door [Photo: Overhead Door]

My grandpa was not an Overhead Door customer.


In 1921, Overhead Door’s founder, C. G. Johnson, and his engineering partner Owen Dautrick came up with something better: the world’s first upward-lifting sectional door. If you have a garage today, that’s the kind of door you probably have. The new design was a game changer that eventually swept the nation, appearing in long rows at service stations, warehouses, and wherever people needed to park their car, truck, or all that stuff you’ve got stacked in your garage today.

Its second breakthrough: the electric garage door opener

Just three years later in 1924, Overhead Door introduced another breakthrough product: Johnson partnered with Herbert Cady Blodgett to produce the first line of electric garage door openers. 

Photo: Overhead Door

Overhead continues to innovate

Overhead Door just keeps on innovating. Today it makes industrial high-speed doors that can open up to 80 inches per second, along with a wide array of residential solutions featuring thermal efficiency, advanced technology, and enhanced aesthetics. The company says it continues to pursue “unprecedented feats of engineering and design.”

“Millions of homeowners and businesses across North America have doors and access systems that display our distinctive Red Ribbon logo, which represents a part of engineering history,” said Rich Owen, VP and general manager of Overhead Door Brand. “From the original manually operated wood doors of the past, all the way to our modern aluminum doors that can be controlled from across the world by a smartphone, the Red Ribbon not only exemplifies a storied past, but also signifies innovation and industry advancement not seen anywhere else.”

Recent fire and security acquisition

Dallas Innovates wrote last April about Overhead’s acquisition of the Won-Door Corporation, which specializes in revolutionary fire and security doors, as a way to enhance Overhead Door’s pedestrian access solutions offering.

Celebrating its 100th birthday has only renewed Overhead’s commitment to innovation, the company says.

“This tremendous milestone is a testament to the Overhead Door brand’s ability to lead in this ever-changing consumer landscape by remaining fiercely dedicated to manufacturing high-quality and trustworthy access systems,” said Kelly Terry, Overhead Door’s president and CEO, in a statement.

Photo: Overhead Door

Ranked number one by Builder Magazine

In May, Builder Magazine’s 2021 Brand Use Study ranked Overhead Door as the No. 1-ranked garage door brand in all measured categories, including “brand familiarity,” “most used in the past two years,” “used the most” overall. Its doors tied for the “highest quality” overall. In addition, Overhead’s garage door openers were ranked second among all top brands.

This year, Overhead Door also snagged its 10th consecutive Women’s Choice Award by WomenCertified, marking the company as the No. 1 most-recommended garage door brand by U.S. female consumers. 

So easy, even a kid could open it! [Photo: Overhead Door]

Celebrating through Oct. 22nd

Overhead Door Corporation, the parent company of Overhead Door Brand, will tip its hat to its heritage with 100 days of celebrations across all its divisions, through Oct. 22. Its network of 450+ “Red Ribbon” distributors nationwide are posting their own historic reminiscences on the company’s Behind the Ribbon page, from the 7 Rivers Region of Wisconsin (check out the kid’s checked suit in the groundbreaking pic) to Millie and Jack Armant’s throwback photo outside their store in Franklin, Pennsylvania. 

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