It has been a family tradition for generations and is still going strong.
Garrison residents Casarra and Jonathan Cover are the current owners of Henry B. Whitaker Inc. garage door business, which was opened by her grandfather in 1949 in Yorktown. The company now operates in Croton Falls, near the boarder of Westchester and Putnam counties.
Whitaker is now 91-years-old.
The company has been a major part of her life since childhood, Cover said last week. “I tell everybody I didn’t go to pre-school, I came to Whitaker,” she said.
Cover’s mother, Fay Gatto, took over the business the year her daughter was born in 1988. “She’d put me in the front seat of her van and I’d go all over Westchester and Putnam counties with her,” Cover recalled. “(I) have great memories of that.”
“My mom installed doors. She did it all,” Cover said.
Cover said she answered telephones for the company during her middle and high school years. Cover was a political justice major at Fordham University but after two years she left college because she felt “I was wasting my money.” From then on she devoted herself to the family business, which moved from Yorktown to the more centralized location in Croton Falls in 2008.
The company sells garage door that are made on the Croton Falls premises for both residential and commercial clients. The company also repairs and services both garage doors and garage door openers. “If it has to do with your garage door we can handle it,” Cover said.
“We specialize in custom wood garage doors that we build right here in our shop,” Cover said.
Cover said customer service is a key to her company’s success. “My grandfather and my mom, forever, have instilled in us honesty and great customer service,” she said. “Make sure you always answer your phone. Make sure you always get back to the customer. Make sure you’re always on time. And you’re always open and honest in everything you do. And we just continued that.”
Cover said her company’s reputation has paid off with both longtime and new customers. “We just started doing some advertising, but 90 percent of it is word of mouth,” she said, adding that many of her customers have had family histories of being her company’s clients. “We have whole families, three generations that have used us,” she said.
Most of the company’s customers come from Westchester and Putnam counties and Fairfield County in Connecticut, Cover noted.
The garage door business has changed over the years, Cover said. “When my grandfather started it was wood, wood and more wood,” she said. “Then a lot of people started buying steel doors, more energy efficient doors. We have doors now that are just as insulated as the walls in you home.”
Another change is people can now open their garage doors with a Smart phone rather than a traditional remote control, Cover said.
Cover said she and her husband wanted to maintain the standards of their business instilled by its founder. “We really just want to grow it. We just want to make sure that the name that my grandfather built stays around for another 70 years,” she said.