In 1954, the late Joe LaForce purchased a hardware business in downtown Green Bay, WI. Since then we have become one of the largest distributors in commercial door opening products and services in the United States, including doors, frames, hardware, keying, building specialties, architectural services, fire door inspections, pre-install, pre-finishing, and our security division, Electronic Security Systems.
In honor of celebrating 65 years of business, we want to share a few things you may not know about LaForce and our history:
- In the beginning, Joe LaForce shared office space with Vince Lombardi.
- There is currently six Board of Directors at LaForce, and together they have a combined experience of over 170 years!
- Joe LaForce was one of the first graduates of UW-Madison’s Construction Management program. Interestingly enough, former CEO, Ken Metzler, held the same degree from UW-Madison.
- LaForce was originally named “LaForce Builders Hardware.”
- LaForce has 14 locations and has provided products and services in 49 states.
- Brian Mannering, current CEO/President, has been with the company for over 30 years.
- LaForce has been part of the Bellin Run corporate challenge for 12 years.
- Chad Mehlberg, Vice President of Operations, met Joe LaForce at his summer job in college – after graduation, he applied and was hired.
- Over 50% of LaForce Employees have been with the company 10+ years.
- LaForce started hosting tailgates in Green Bay just over 35 years ago for our customers. In 2009 we moved our tailgates to our current house, right across from Lambeau Field. This year will be our tenth season at the current location!
- Both employees on the LaForce Maintenance team are named Bruce, but it is not a requirement for their position.
- An employee in the Green Bay Wood Door Shop started at LaForce in 1971; he is our longest-tenured employee at close to 50 years!
- In 1972, LaForce moved its headquarters to West Mason St, we have remodeled the building numerous times, including removing a railroad track!
- Joe LaForce believed in a “work hard, play hard” atmosphere, which is why we have multiple events throughout the year for our employees and their families, including picnics, golf outings, holiday parties, annual parties, potlucks and more!
- The late John MacMullen, CEO/Chairman of the Board, would rearrange a meeting room to have round tables or form a round table environment so that every person could be involved.
- Since 1954, LaForce has held an open door policy for all employees and leaders, a policy that hasn’t changed in 65 years.
- Joe LaForce and John MacMullen had a strong commitment to giving back to the community; on average LaForce supports 78 different organizations every year.
- Our Volunteer program started in 2013. We offer our employees paid volunteer time every year. We have been part of Habitat for Humanity builds, food/clothing drives, packing meals for students, cleaning up local parks, serving meals, and more!
- Our Safe and Well program has been around since 2004 and hosts activities for employees such as mini golf tournaments, office Olympics, summer sports tournaments, financial events, heart health lunch and learns, and provide additional Safe & Well information or events!
- In 2015, LaForce won the Manufacturer of the Year award from the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce.
- Joe LaForce constantly pushed his employees to improve, and his motto was “How can we do it better?” We continue to emphasize this idea through our Continuous Improvement Program. In 2018 LaForce launched the Opportunity for Improvement initiative within our Continuous Improvement program. Since the launch, we have implemented over 950 ideas.
Thank you to our customers, employees, and friends for a great 65 years, let’s make the next 65+ even better!