>> Building a door seems like a straightforward proposition — but not for brothers John and Gus Kaounas, owners of International Door Inc. in Canton Township, which is believed to be the largest manufacturer of specialty doors in the world.
“We’ve done doors for the space shuttle, which had very particular requirements, given its mission,” says John Kaounas, the president of International Door who, in 1974, gave up his job as a machinist technician with Ford Motor Co. to launch the business.
“Seventy percent of our doors are unique and very specialized.”
Most recently, the company, which has nearly 50 employees, completed the largest aircraft hangar door ever produced — 1,300 feet wide by 46 feet high — for an undisclosed military client. The company also produces vertical lift doors, blast-resistant doors, acoustical doors, and more than a dozen other specialty doors.
“We do doors for nuclear power plants, bulletproof doors, and (we made) a glass door for the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion inside Chicago’s Millennium Park,” John says. The project, completed in 2004, was somewhat controversial because the building exceeded historic height restrictions (the stainless-steel structure was classified as a work of art to get around the legal limitations).
Most of the company’s orders come from outside of Michigan. Clients include the Big Three automakers and numerous suppliers, National Steel, Dow Chemical, General Dynamics, Boeing, NASA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Air Force.
“The planes are getting bigger, the auto plants are getting bigger, and we design doors to keep up with all of the new business,” John says. “We design, manufacture, install, and service all of our doors. That way, we know they’ll last a long time.”