40 Years of Duo-Gard

Duo-Gard’s Dave Miller Reflects on 40 Years of Success

March 2024 marks a milestone for Canton, Michigan-based Duo-Gard Industries—40 years as the leading innovator in bus, bike and smoking shelters as well as high-performance translucent walls, architectural canopies, and outdoor structures.


The business started in 1984 during the oil embargo, when federal tax credits were available for energy-saving retrofitting. “My dad (Al Miller), was working in commercial real estate but had a background in manufacturing. He applied this knowledge to retrofitting factories to provide more energy efficiencies while still taking advantage of daylighting. That’s how Duo-Gard was started,” recalled Dave Miller, President, of Duo-Gard Industries. Those early projects for customers in nearby Detroit, featured polycarbonate laminated to foam, which delivered better energy efficiencies, daylighting, improved insulation, and a reduction in vandalism. Soon Duo-Gard was applying this technology to three-season rooms for residential applications.


A few years later, Al drove past the VA hospital in Ann Arbor and saw a number of vets huddled outside in a snow storm smoking. Al thought the three-season rooms could be applied to smoke shelters. He pitched the idea to the VA hospital and soon had orders from hospitals and office buildings across the country. “We were the first company in the U. S. to develop smoke shelters, which became a catalyst for growth and the genesis of our current shelter product line,” noted Miller.


Dave Miller and Mike Arvidson, now the company’s Vice President, joined the business in the 1990s, working alongside the company’s other six employees. “Mike and I were focused on overglazing products which could help address thermal values in large buildings. We developed relationships with Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Trane and others. Soon our products were being installed in government buildings, schools, etc.” reported Miller.


Duo-Gard was developing relationships with architects as well. In 2020, Duo-Gard launched Achieve 360°, a proprietary full-circle design and fabrication resource especially useful for architects. “When architects bring us into the planning process we provide our expertise in load, life cycle, dollar value and more to augment their design talents,” said Miller. Achieve 360° is the process Duo-Gard follows to continually add value at every stage in a project—vision and design, scope and specifications, and execution (engineering, fabrication, and installation).


Today, the company has 80+ employees; 2023 revenues topping out at $23 million; five patents: and an extensive portfolio of stadiums, hospitals, transportation hubs, and more. In preparation for the next growth cycle, the company will be launching a new ERP system and has hired several key personnel.  “We are a bigger company now, but still think outside the box, are willing to try new things, and bring various technologies and materials together. We hope to continue innovating for the next 40 years,” concluded Miller.

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