In the first five years of running his local garage door business, Cody Miles has been faced with plenty of adversity.
First came a fire in 2019 that destroyed his equipment, work trucks and former building, followed by the pandemic hitting a year later. But his determination and optimistic entrepreneurial spirit has helped the 35-year-old guide Upper Midwest Garage Door through it all. With its new location on the south side of Mitchell, the business has bounced back stronger than ever.
“There were some tough times in the middle of all the stuff we had to deal with over the past few years, but we have a great crew. We’ve been able to get through it and keep growing,” Miles said from inside his new showroom at 900 E. Kay Ave. “We had a lot of great help from the community as well.”
When Miles opened Upper Midwest Garage Door in 2017, the Mitchell native was operating with a two-man crew out of his basement that consisted of him and his father. After building a strong base of clientele, Miles was ready to make his first move into a storefront on the south side of Mitchell in 2018. As he and his staff were beginning to settle into the former 25656 location on Highway 37, a fire ravaged the building, destroying everything in its path.
The structure fire occurred at around 6 p.m. on Jan. 10, 2019, following a full day of work. While no one was injured from the blaze, Miles said it “took pretty much everything we had.”
“It was tough to lose all that product, equipment and inventory, but not coming back from the fire was a thought that never crossed my mind,” Miles said, noting the business was just six months into operating out of the location when the blaze happened. “Our showroom and office was destroyed as well, so there were some real hurdles we had in front of us.”
After assessing the damage in the aftermath of the fire, Miles was coming to grips with the realization that he would have to start from scratch again if he was going to keep Upper Midwest Garage Door in business. Although insurance played a pivotal role for the company to rebound, which helped fund some of the new trucks and work equipment needed to install the custom garage doors, finding a new building to call home was the next challenge.
Fewer than 24 hours after the fire, Miles received a call from a friend, Dustin Long, who offered his building along South Burr Street that was vacant at the time.
“We didn’t really stop working after the fire. We took a look at Long’s building the next day, and reordered our products that burnt up and shopped for new trucks,” Miles said. “We had to finish the jobs we had in front of us and keep things going, so it was crazy making that move in less than a week. But we were fortunate to have our staff be willing to help in every way they could to come back from the fire.”
While Miles credits his staff and the community for helping the business rise back up from the ashes, he said his wife, Kelsi Miles, who is the co-owner, inspired him to keep persevering.
As the business found a temporary location at 505 S. Burr St., Miles found the “perfect” building a few blocks south along East Kay Avenue near Mega Wash. The building is equipped with a showroom, a shop and warehouse area that stores the equipment and products.
“Since we do a lot of jobs in the area, being real close to the highway and Interstate 90 is nice. The building works out perfect for the showroom and shop space,” he said of the 990 E. Kay Ave. location that was the former Firesteel Classic Cars building. “There have been a lot of walk-in customers as well.”
Prior to opening the business, Miles spent eight years in the garage door construction industry. After working his way up to become the manager at American Garage Door Company in three South Dakota locations, Miles was ready to chart a new path with a business of his own.
His company specializes in residential garage door installations and repair services. Since opening Upper Midwest Garage Door -- which Miles named after his grandfather's agriculture business in Mount Vernon called "Upper Midwest Ag. Products" -- there’s been a strong demand for their services in the Mitchell area. However, the company continues to see growing demand outside the Mitchell area, as Miles said crews have completed numerous projects in the Yankton, Madison and Sioux Falls areas over the years.
Miles recently opened a second location in Yankton because of the volume of business that’s been coming out of that area lately. While it’s a smaller shop than the Mitchell location, Miles said he anticipates it will continue to grow as new construction in the Yankton area takes off.
Reflecting back on the past five years, Miles is proud of how far the business has come considering the hardships it faced along the way. What was once a two-man crew has now expanded into a team of 12 staff members at the Mitchell location along with two in Yankton.
“It’s been fun to see him succeed with the business that he’s passionate about,” Kelsi Miles said of her husband. “He's worked hard to get here."
Although COVID-19 threw the business yet another challenge this past year, causing longer waiting times to receive product for upcoming jobs, Miles was confident the company could overcome the unforeseen obstacle just as it did with the fire.
As business has remained strong throughout the pandemic, the Upper Midwest Garage Door team has once again been resilient in the face of adversity.
“When COVID-19 hit, we weren’t sure how the year would go. But it turned out to be a great year with all the construction that’s been going on in South Dakota,” Miles said. “We have a dedicated staff that has helped the business continue to grow even with COVID-19 and the fire.”