Driven to grow through relationships as strong and dependable as our products.
Special-Lite is proud to be Certified™ by Great Place to Work®
The prestigious award is based entirely on what current employees say about their experience working at Special-Lite. This year, 72% of employees said it’s a great place to work – 15 points more than the average U.S. company.
Special-Lite manufactures engineered architectural products, including commercial entrance systems, interior aluminum (Type II) framing with swing or sliding aluminum framed doors, and FRP bathroom partitions.
Our interior and exterior complete entrance system products are fiberglass or aluminum flush doors with many door face texture options. Choose from wood grain, aluminum monumental (stile & rail) doors, fiberglass, and aluminum framing. New construction and renovation projects for educational, commercial, institutional, industrial, and municipal applications use our engineered, custom architectural products.
Founded in 1971, Special-Lite pioneered using fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) material for door skins in the early 1980s. Today, we are the largest volume producer of commercial FRP doors in the United States.
Exceptional Customer Support
When you choose a product from Special-Lite®, our team will assist you every step of the way. That includes talking to a live person every time you call for product training at our factory and installation support from our field technicians. We bring your design ideas to life. Whether you need 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 design renderings to help with the specification and design process. Our Expedited Program is an option for those who need a faster solution.
Independent sales representatives promote Special-Lite products in the United States and Canada. Our products are distributed by specialty door companies, glass and glazing subcontractors, hardware distributors, and window replacement contractors.
Visit our Rep Locator to find your local sales rep for your area. We stand behind our products with a 10-year, 100% parts, and labor warranty. We also offer a limited lifetime warranty on our flush-door models.
*The HMR-FRP Hollow Metal Replacement Door, Omega, and Litespace 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 detail, innovative design, and advanced technology to make the toughest, most durable doors possible.
The high quality of our doors, framing, and bathroom partitions results from individual craftsmanship, attention to detail, and a personal commitment to quality that is unique in the industry.
The History of Special-Lite
Special-Lite, Inc. is a family-owned company based in Decatur, Michigan
with an additional location in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
1969—Our Humble Beginning
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, to broaden its product offerings 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 outside Decatur, Michigan. This facility and location remain the primary manufacturing and headquarters site.
1981—Pioneered FRP Flush Door
Responding to the need for a scratch and dent-resistant door for schools, 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 (SL-17 Model). 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 the majority owner of Special-Lite, Inc. His engineering prowess and leadership have allowed the company to continue its leadership position. Upjohn’s specific developments around manufacturing highly engineered building entry solutions, specifically a world-class closed-cell polyurethane foamed core process (recognized as the Special-Lite “poured-in-place” process), continue today as an industry standard.
2012—Universal Pultrusions Acquisition
In 2012, Special-Lite acquired Universal Pultrusions. The acquisition of this innovative pultrusion technology was critical in maintaining and securing a leadership position for Special-Lite in the fiberglass and non-corrosive commercial entry solution market. Today, we believe the original door model AF-100 is the only fully pultruded all-fiberglass corrosion-resistant door on the market.
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 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 a vital 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 throughout North America and has a growing presence in many other parts of the world. Our product offering has grown beyond aluminum, FRP flush, and stile and rail aluminum doors. That now also includes aluminum and fiberglass framing, bathroom partitions, office interior glass fronts and walls, vestibules, and doors for food processing, healthcare, and cleanrooms.