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From Gutters to Garage Doors: Local Business Owners Open ProLift Garage Doors to Expand Their Reach in the Home Services Industry

Matthew Whisenant and Kyle Rutter are bringing ProLift Garage Doors to Durham, North Carolina.

After being in the restaurant industry for 20 years, Matt Whisenant decided to take the business ownership path. Six months ago, he and his business partner, Kyle Rutter, opened a gutter installation company. The two have seen success and wanted to expand their reach in the home service industry and provide a service with a faster turnaround. 

Since opening their gutter business, the business partners signed to open ProLift Garage Doors*. Whisenant is looking forward to bringing another reliable service to the Durham and Wake Forest areas. His main goal is to provide new job opportunities to the community and build a team that wants to grow with the ProLift Garage Doors business as it expands in the future.

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Matthew Whisenant: I went to school for journalism and became a sports writer. I always played sports, so I wanted to stay close to that world.  After working at a restaurant as a second job, I realized that was my missing link to the teamwork and competitive atmosphere I had from sports. I worked in the restaurant industry for 20 years.  I started as a busboy and worked my way up to a director position for fast-casual restaurants.

I joined a new company after 12 years at Noodles and Company.  When I finished training with the new brand, three days later COVID shut the world down.  The leader I had signed up to work for got laid off, and for the first time in 13 years I had a new leader that I didn’t see eye to eye with.  With everything going on in the world, I realized I was ready to walk away.

After leaving, I joined forces with a former leader that I trust at a high level.  We currently own a gutter company.  After that business took off, we started looking into franchises that might have smaller monetary amounts but have jobs that could be completed all at once. That led my business partner and me to the garage doors industry.

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Whisenant: I wouldn’t say that I had a bad perception of franchising, but it wasn’t something I was interested in. I didn’t want to pay fees, even if I wasn’t doing well. I am very analytical by nature, and love to look at data.  Research and speaking to other people in the industry were key before making any decision of adding another brand to our portfolio. Once I looked into franchising, I started to see that you are paying for the support and the technology the brand offers. You are also then in a group of like-minded folks who you can build relationships with and help each other through the process. As a person who owns a business that I started from scratch, it is easier to get a business started and operate it with the support of a franchisor. Since signing with ProLift Garage Doors, I have been able to emphasize development and growth. 

1851: What makes you stand out as business owners in your local community?

Whisenant: I think we will stand out in our community because of our involvement in it.  We try to use all local vendors for our partners - banks, uniforms, etc. We have already joined a local networking group and continue to try to refer business to fellow local businesses when asked.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Whisenant: What we really liked about ProLift Garage Doors was the support and technology available. Premium Service Brands also has other franchises under their umbrella that we could potentially expand into. Once my business partner discovered ProLift Garage Doors and we researched the brand, we saw how much it was growing and how good its reputation was. 

I’m excited to open ProLift Garage Doors. I love looking at the data at the beginning of a business endeavor and seeing what to expect and what the possibilities are. I love that I can employ more people in the community. 

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Whisenant: If you told me six months ago, when I started the gutter business, that I would be franchising, I would have laughed. Once I saw the opportunity that comes with franchising, though, I couldn’t pass it up. I’m looking forward to growing and expanding in the future. My goal is to hire people who want to grow with the company so we can all continue to move forward together.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Whisenant: Do your research and look over every piece of information you can. Make sure the brand is something that you are proud to represent, and have an open mind. If you see people who have found success using a certain business model, you should try it.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.