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Henry’s Sliding Door Specialists “Can Save That Door”

Jonathan LaForge, owner and operator of Henry’s Sliding Door Specialists. [Tim Wassberg]

Sliding glass doors are a mainstay in South Florida, giving occupants views of a patio, a deck or the balcony of an Intracoastal or beachfront condo. But it’s important to know when doors need to be refurbished. 

According to Jonathan LaForge, owner and operator of Henry’s Sliding Door Specialists, most sliding doors need only repair, not replacement. 

LaForge, who named his company after his young son, understands both the technical and aesthetic elements needed for these doors to work right.

“Any time I do service anywhere, inland or on the water, I’m always going to always be changing the weather-stripping,” says LaForge.

Replaced rollers being installed by Henry’s Sliding Door Specialists in a condo. [Tim Wassberg]

He always uses stainless steel parts because, even inland, pool water and phosphate sprinklers can create a lot of damage to the rollers. “Even pets, honestly, when they pee on the doors, cause severe damage. It happens a lot more than people think.”

To keep competitive, LaForge offers discount pricing on multiple systems. A system, he explains, is one sliding glass door whether it has two, three, four, five, six panels in it, it is still one system from wall to wall.

The important idea is to know when a system needs replacement which is often dependent on its age. Older doors, LaForge explains, tend to go out in their 30s. A door installed from 1990 to 2000, about 20 to 30 years old, will likely need a refurbishment. “But the work that I do, it’s not a ‘do it every five years sort’ of thing,” LaForge said. His warranty term is five years.

LaForge got into the window business with his parents when he lived in Pinellas County on Florida’s West Coast. 

After some family issues, he relocated here with his young son Henry and built this business. He has been here for more than a decade.

The expertise for repairing these doors is an acquired technique. “A sliding glass door seems like a very simple machine. But to be able to master getting it right every single time is not easy,” said LaForge. There’s a lot to selecting the right roller. While LaForge says it may not be an exact match for what was there, what matters is what’s going to work best in that door.

Track structure being adjusted by Henry’s Sliding Door Specialists in a condo. [Tim Wassberg]

“I end up getting a lot of calls from people who are frustrated by the cycle [of constant fixing] and they want to just do it once and do it right,” he said.

The cost difference, he says, between non-seamless parts and seamless parts, which are key to the refurbishment, is just a few dollars but it “ makes a huge difference in longevity.”

When LaForge, who has a collection of committed employees he has personally trained, first got into this part of the repair business, it was at the request of his mother. He had been doing tiling previously and saw the potential in this industry. He went out and did a few jobs. “And it’s fun, honestly. It’s a good time,” he said. “And those who’ve worked for me, a lot of them have appreciated how rewarding it is.”

And it’s all about the look on the customer’s face.

“You take a door that does not work, and, in two hours, the door works, and every time you get a smile on the customer’s face. They’re just ecstatic that it’s working. And honestly, they understand that you actually saved them a lot of money because these new impact doors are expensive,” said LaForge.

An indicator that sliding doors need repair is squeaks, difficulty opening, shaking and rattling. Air loss is indicative as well.

He says one thing people do not realize is that a high humidity reading or mold in their house may be because the windows are leaking a lot of air. 

He says many people look at their ancient 40 to 50-year old doors and say they can’t be saved. But they are wrong.

“Yes, they can. They absolutely can,” said LaForge. “You just need to be able to treat them right. I can save that door.”

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