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"Businesses of Broome" sits down with Kelli Morris, office administrator at Gates Garage Door Co. 

Kelli Morris, office administrator, and Nate Jacoski, office manager

Winter Clark | March 7, 2019

The following interview has been edited for clarity.

Winter Clark: So, first, how did Lee (your husband) decide to start this business?

Kelli Morris: He wanted to do something in the local area that he knew how to do, but that there wasn’t a lot of. He did garage doors when he was in Florida, and when we came back here, he was a mechanic. He started his own business and then met Scott Gates, whose family owned Gates Door Company for a very very long time. Lee worked with him for a while. Then, Scott decided that he wanted to sell the business, so we purchased it in August of 2009. Lee found it was a really good fit for him. He loved the work.

WC: And what about you, how did you get involved?

KM: Well, I’m married to the owner. I came from human services, and being here really has a lot to do with providing for our family. It’s really nice to be a part of the community, too. We used to be over in Johnson City. Recently, we moved to Endicott. I do all of the advertising and marketing here and it’s really nice to find ways to donate, give back, and just be involved as a small business.

WC: So you just named something that’s really important to you and your husband: giving back to the community. Could you say a little bit more about that?

KM: I think it’s really important to be involved, especially as a small business. A lot of people go to big box stores and think that they’re getting a really good deal. We’ve heard so many times that they get the runaround there. Here, it’s very personal. Nate, who works here, is actually my cousin. One of our neighbors also works here. We’re really all kind of intertwined in some way. It really feels good to be a part of something and help our community in any way that we can.

WC: Yeah! I mean, I’ll go on for ages about big box stores, as I’m sure you can imagine. If you’re looking at value strictly in terms of dollars, then sure, big box stores offer a greater value. But that view doesn’t take into account things like community building, the relationships that you get to enjoy (especially if you’re going to the same place for years), and how much money gets returned to your community. If you look at value from this perspective, local businesses do offer a better value.

KM: Absolutely. We’ve met a lot of great people through this experience. I haven’t been here for that long, but it’s pretty cool seeing how many people my husband knows. People will call him at all hours of the day asking, “Hey, can you help?” My husband would give the shirt off his back to help somebody else. It’s really fulfilling to see, especially considering how we’ve grown this business.

WC: For 10 years now, right?

KM: Yes! When Lee bought the business, we actually started out in the basement of a house that we owned. Then we rented a building over on Watson Boulevard. That flooded. We rebuilt. Now, we actually own this building. I’m just so proud of him and what he’s accomplished. We hope to be here in Endicott for a very long time.

WC: So you like this location?

KM: I do. We sit back from the road a little bit. So sometimes people drive past us and call saying, “We can’t find ya!” Hopefully once people know that we’re here, it’ll be a little bit easier for them to find us. I also have had to clean up the old addresses online. That was a big thing. When I started here, people were going over to our old business, and we obviously weren’t there.

WC: What do you feel is the most challenging part of doing what you do?

KM: For Lee, it’s justifying pricing to people. Big box stores, like we were just talking about, have the funds to do everything: advertising, hiring, overhead costs. We, as a small business, have to factor all of that in while also trying to keep costs down for the community. For me, the hardest parts are the technical parts. I’m gradually trying to learn, because I’d really like to help out with things like estimates — more than just the marketing. I’m the only girl here, too, which comes with its challenges. Everyone does make me feel welcome, though. I am just trying to learn the ins and outs. Part of it is community, part of it is supporting our family and it comes down to trying to find that balance. I want to help everybody.

WC: Me, too! And what is your favorite part about this?

KM: Being around my husband, and others I care about here. Our employees are like family to us. They do such an amazing job here for our community and for us! They really are the heart of our business and without them we would not be here. I’d say that overall my favorite part is meeting new people, and just being a part of something as it’s growing.

WC: I’m sure you saw the event that we have coming up — I hope you come to that!

KM: I hope we can come, too! I think Be Local Broome is great because being part of something small, I think it’s huge, if that make sense.

WC: Ironically, it is! On that topic, why did you choose to join Be Local Broome?

KM: I really think it’s important to support small businesses. We are a small business. Anytime that we can support another small business as opposed to ordering something online, we do. We really try to utilize those local businesses and support them as well, because as a small business we know how difficult it can be to compete. People think they’re getting a better deal at big box stores, but they don’t always see that buying from a local business supports their community as well. I mean let’s face it, a lot of businesses close because they don’t get that support.

WC: It’s so unfortunate how we tend to look at the value just in terms of dollars. Of course, I think this tendency is normal and understandable, especially if you’re just looking at what you can afford. At Be Local Broome, we say, “If you can afford it, you really should be supporting local businesses.” But I’m preaching to the choir I’m sure!

KM: Yeah!

WC: Is there anything else you would like to share? I know you have a big sale coming up this weekend, is that right?

KM: We do! It’s Friday, March 8 through Sunday, March 10. This is our first sale. We wanted to do something for the local community. We’re working with our garage door dealer, who we buy doors from, and they’re helping us out. I’m super excited about this event; it’s one of the things that I’ve been working on here. Often, people can’t see us from the road, so we’re hoping to gain some visibility. We really want to say, “Hey, we’re here, and we’d like to give you a great deal on a door!” We’re giving everybody 15% off of any door that they choose. We have some doors in stock, which we’ll take even more off of.

People sometimes don’t think about garage doors. You think about windows, and doors, and siding. But a garage door is a big opening in your house. If it’s insulated, it makes all the difference on your heating bills, and on the curb appeal and resale value of your home.

We’re excited to see how this goes, and hopefully we can do it again next year. We’d like to do an annual thing where we can give back and show that people can get a great deal from us, too. We’ll also be at the Home & Garden show at the Binghamton University events center on March 30th and 31st. We do that every year, so we’re looking forward to it.

The aforementioned “Truckload Sale,” promising 15% off all garage doors, will be held Friday, March 8th from 9 AM to 4:30 PM, Saturday, March 9th from 9 AM to 4 PM, and Sunday, March 10th from 10 AM to 2 PM. Gates Garage Door Co. is located at 1339 Campville Road in Endicott.

(607) 873-9220 eXT. 4


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