If you think a garage is too small of a place to start a business, think again. Jeff Bezos started Amazon as an online bookstore in his home garage where he stored all his books for nearly a year before Amazon made its first sale. Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft in a garage and with very few resources. Thankfully, not much space is necessary for programming. Walt Disney and his brother, Roy, started their company in their uncle’s garage in 1923. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak assembled fifty computers in thirty days in Jobs’ parents’ garage before getting Apple off the ground. Google was started as a college project in the garage of the current Youtube CEO.
Our very own Jim Lett Sr started A.B.E. Door Sales in his parents’ garage in 1974. He began installing Gordon basement doors as his primary product, having his mother answer the phone while he was installing during the day and going out at night to sell more doors. He had a phone line installed in his bedroom and used that as his office. Within the first year, he was able to expand his product line to include Frantz garage doors. After that, to the delight of his parents, he was able to afford a small warehouse off Route 100 where he moved all his stock.
When Jim got married in 1978, he and Janet worked side by side to build up the business into what it is today. Together, they purchased the house that is now our main office on Hamilton Boulevard in 1980. It was where they lived, worked, and raised their family until 1988. At that point, they were able to build their dream home and remodeled the house on Hamilton into what is still our showroom today.
After Jim Lett acquired Lehigh Valley Doors in 2000, A.B.E. Doors and Windows really moved up in the world with the addition of our permanent 8500-square-foot warehouse off Gilmore Street in Allentown. All our technicians now work from there as well as it being the primary point of delivery for all our doors and windows. We officially no longer store anything in our home garage!
Janet retired from actively working at A.B.E. Doors and Windows in 2015. While Jim Sr is still a big part of our operations, he has since passed the torch to the second generation. His son, Jim Lett II, started full time in 2007 and is now vested in carrying on his father’s vision. With today’s technology and the energy conscious world we live in, we’re all excited to see where Jim II takes A.B.E. Doors and Windows in the future.
In some ways, A.B.E. Doors and Windows still happily works from its home garage—which has since been converted into our garage door showroom. Stop by for a grand tour of A.B.E.’s humble beginnings and experience first-hand the customer service that made us great!