Driven to grow through relationships as strong and dependable as our products.
Special-Lite manufactures engineered architectural products, which includes commercial entrance systems, interior aluminum (Type II) framing with swing or sliding aluminum framed doors, and FRP restroom partitions. Our interior and exterior complete entrance system products are fiberglass or aluminum flush doors with many door face texture options including wood grain, aluminum monumental (stile & rail) doors, fiberglass and aluminum framing. Our engineered, made to order architectural products are used in new construction and renovation projects for educational, commercial, institutional, industrial and municipal applications. The company was founded in 1971 and pioneered the use of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) material for door skins in the early 1980’s, and today is the largest volume producer of commercial FRP doors in the United States.
Exceptional Customer Support
When you choose an engineered product from Special-Lite®, our professional staff will assist you every step of the way—from reaching a live person every time you call, to product training at our factory, and installation support from our field technicians. We have the services and support to bring your design ideas to life. Whether it is an exterior or interior entrance system, restroom partition, or interior wall/partition design, we can create a custom solution to suit your application. We can even provide you with computer-generated design renderings to help with the specification and design process. In addition, our most popular door models are available on short notice through our Express Program. Special-Lite products are promoted in the United States and Canada by independent sales representatives and distributed through selected door specialty companies, glass and glazing subcontractors, hardware distributors, and window replacement contractors. Outside of the United States and Canada please contact Special-Lite sales team directly. Visit our Sales Rep Locator to find the sales representative for your region. We stand behind our products with a 10-year, 100% parts and labor warranty. Plus, we offer an additional limited lifetime warranty on our flush door models. Review our warranty statement and compare it to what other supplier warranties actually cover after all of their exclusions and limitations. You’ll see that when you buy a Special-Lite product, you’re really covered.
*The BasiX Door and Interior Architectural Framing Systems carry a separate warranty.
Exceptional Manufacturing & Engineering
The Special-Lite approach to producing our products is unique in the industry. We combine the best aspects of traditional hands-on craftsmanship, innovative design, and advanced technology to make the toughest, longest-lasting doors possible. The high quality of our doors, framing, and restroom partitions is the result of the individual craftsmanship, attention to detail, and a personal commitment to quality that is simply not possible with mechanized, high-volume manufacturing.
The History of Special-Lite
Special-Lite, Inc. is a privately held firm with its headquarters in Decatur, Michigan, and manufacturing locations in Decatur, Michigan; Benton Township, Michigan and Marshall, Arkansas. The company began in 1969 when Ed Smola began working on ideas that in 1971 became Decatur Quality Glass. In this same year, Grant O. Young, who had partnered with Smola in building this business, organized this aluminum flush as well as a stile and rail door company. From the very beginning, the company’s mission has been to design, engineer, manufacture and sell high-performance products for selected segments of the commercial entrance market.
1969—Our Humble Beginning
Special-Lite, Inc. is a privately held firm with its headquarters in Decatur, Michigan and manufacturing locations in Decatur, Michigan; Benton Township, Michigan and Marshall, Arkansas. The company began in 1969 when Ed Smola began working on ideas that in 1971 became Decatur Quality Glass. In this same year, Grant O. Young, who had partnered with Smola in building this business, organized this aluminum flush as well as a stile and rail door company. From the very beginning, the company’s mission has been to design, engineer, manufacture and sell high-performance products for selected segments of the commercial entrance market.
In 1975, Special-Lite purchased the DESCO aluminum stile and rail door business of Adams and Westlake, Inc., of Elkhart, Indiana as it looked to broaden its product lines and maintain growth. In 1976, the resulting upturn in business allowed the company to purchase five acres of land and build a new production facility on County Road 668 on the outskirts of Decatur. This facility and location continue to serve as the primary manufacturing and headquarter site.
1981—Pioneered FRP Flush Door
Responding to the need for a scratch and dent-resistant door for the school environment, Special-Lite introduced the industry’s first flush door for exterior entrances utilizing Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) face sheets in 1981
1995—FRP Door Leader with SpecLite 3®
In 1995, Special-Lite brought to market a proprietary and unique SpecLite 3® Mylar-coated FRP face sheet for its FRP door (Model SL-17). This coating provides the physical properties required for long life, even in applications involving heavy traffic, physical abuse, vandalism and extreme weathering. Sales of the SL-17 have grown tremendously, making Special-Lite the largest volume producer of FRP doors in the U.S. today.
1998—Upjohn Initiates Engineering Advancements
In 1998, Henry L. Upjohn II became majority owner of Special-Lite, Inc., his engineering prowess and leadership has allowed the company to continue its leadership position. Upjohn’s specific developments around the manufacturing of highly engineered building entry solutions, and specifically a world class closed-cell polyurethane foamed core process (recognized as the Special-Lite “poured-in-place” process) continues today as an industry standard
2012—Universal Pultrusions Acquisition
In 2012, Special-Lite acquired Universal Pultrusions of Marshall, Arkansas. The acquisition of this innovative pultrusion technology was important in maintaining and securing a leadership position for Special-Lite in the fiberglass and non-corrosive building entry solution market. Today, we believe that the original door model AF-100 is the only fully pultruded all-fiberglass corrosion resistant door on the market. In 2014, Special-Lite invested in over 65,000 square feet of plant space and modernization in Marshall, Arkansas. Improvements were made to the office, the painting operation and pultruding capacity.
2015—Omega Aluminum Framing Acquisition
In 2015, Special-Lite acquired the Omega Aluminum Framing business from Chicago-based Architectural Builders Hardware Manufacturing, Inc. (ABH). The acquisition broadened Special-Lite’s interior products offering with a high-quality Type II aluminum framing for the interior glass office fronts and demountable wall business. With Special-Lite’s experience in aluminum doors and framing, the investment provided the perfect beginning to an important office interior market segment strategy.
Commitment to Quality Engineering
Today, Special-Lite remains committed to designing, engineering and manufacturing only the highest quality and high-performance architectural building products. Special-Lite continues to grow and expand into new markets, both geographic and product type. Special-Lite’s products can be found extensively throughout North America and have a growing presence and recognition in many other parts of the world. Our product offering has expanded beyond aluminum, FRP flush and stile and rail aluminum doors to include: aluminum and fiberglass framing, bathroom partitions, office interior glass fronts and walls, vestibules, and doors for food processing and clean rooms.