Page 48


Making First Impressions Count By Larry Copenhaver

Butler Custom Doors, a Tucson company owned and operated by sisters Jill and Robin Woodard, strives to furnish the most attractive and functional entryways possible to discriminating home and business owners. Foremost considerations in the effort include doors and entrances that are both durable and aesthetically comforting. The company’s broad spectrum of customers, including custom home builders, architects, remodelers and interior designers as well as do-it-yourselfers, encourages the one-on-one attention that has catapulted Butler Custom Doors into an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. “We have a wide folio of products,” Jill said. “The front door to a home is especially important. It is the statement to the home, the personality to the home. It’s what people see when they come to your house. We feel front doors are an important investment, not only adding value to the home but the character, too. “It’s good when visitors say to themselves, ‘What a beautiful entry – what’s the rest of the house look like?’ Robin and I both take pride in really helping people make the right design choices.” That work begins in the showroom at 9290 E. Old Vail Road, where rows and rows of examples of entry treatments are on display. Then, one of the owners will work in the field with clients’ contractors and door installers. They want to make sure the products being selected are architecturally or “design-wise” right for that unique setting, as well as 48 BizTucson


Spring 2017

make sure the new door fits properly in the opening. Butler is not a manufacturer of entry products, and its lowest grade of door might be something found at a big box store, Jill said. Customers looking for higher grades of products are those who seek out Butler products that can be customized. “We used to be only high end, but now the company does all ranges of doors,” Jill said. “The market has changed so much.” Butler even does doors from materials such as plastic laminate “to the most expensive door you could imagine.” Recently, the pair completed a major project that carried a nearly $250,000 price tag for the interior and exterior doors and other treatments of a home. “Almost all of our doors are made of solid wood,” Jill said. Some of the more common wood species chosen for today’s fashion door include knotty alder, poplar and cedar. Often, iron and glass or aluminum and glass find their way into the materials list. Other issues include insulation ratings and the durability of the material relative to solar exposure, Robin said. “Some 95 percent of sales go through the review of an architect. Roughly 5 percent of the clients are folks off the street. Prior to 2006, 90 percent of business was new construction, but with Tucson homes being available for renovation, that has slid to about 80 percent.” There are four employees at Butler Custom Doors. Two are the owners

who take the lead on product selections. The other two ensure quality control so entries are compatible to the quality of workmanship found in some of Southern Arizona’s stunning homes – homes that often cost millions of dollars or businesses obsessed with making a favorable first impression. “We do all of our pre-hanging here. We bring in the product and create our own jambs and frames, customizing for each particular opening in the home,” Jill said. Butler most often depends on local custom manufacturers for the actual doors. “They manufacture the products, then we custom hang them,” Jill said. “And we have our own custom stainer so we can stain all of our wood products.” Butler built its offices and showroom on Tucson’s far eastside 20 years ago, completing the structure in April 1996. Jill has worked for the company, formerly owned by the sisters’ parents, Dean and Margie Woodard, for 22 years; and Robin, for 17 years. The founder of the company was Tucson businessman Mark Butler, a nationally recognized door and home builder. The company has been in the Tucson area for about 30 years. In January 2015, Robin and Jill purchased the company. They said if anything, being female entrepreneurs is an advantage. Clients are happy to be working with women, Jill said. “The gender gap is gone. It’s really disappeared over the past 20 years.”