B&D – The Beginning
In 1946 B&D was founded in Sydney by Arthur Byrne and Paul Davidson, who started a steel fabricating business with only £140. They managed to build their own factory in Botany while undertaking large engineering works across Australia , and recruited accountant Ray Willoughby.
The invention of an icon
The development of the Roll-A-Door began when Sydney inventor Ben Saul walked into B&D with an idea. B&D gave Saul workspace and materials to start but first prototypes failed. Byrne, Davidson and Saul lost interest, and all parts and materials were left in the corner of the workshop - Saul signed away his rights to the business and left the business.
During a 1955 board meeting in which Byrne, Davidson and Willoughby had adjourned their meeting to the relative cool of a Hyde Park bench, a vote of two to one resulted in giving the door another go.
For eight weeks, Byrne worked with boilermaker Gordon Lambert to refine the design - the result? The first all-steel, mass produced Roll-A-Door that could be rolled and unrolled without cracking.
The B&D Roll-A-Door debuted at the Sydney Daily Mirror Home Show in 1956 (now known as the Sydney Home Show) and became an unanticipated success. Immediately after the launch, B&D started its own research and development department for continuous design improvement. One year after, founder Paul Davidson left B&D, shortly after, Ray Willoughby was appointed joint Managing Director.
A child can open it!
Continual development of the Roll-A-Door's design had resulted in a safe, secure garage door that wouldn't slam shut and was easy to open. To highlight this, in 1958, B&D introduced the popular slogan "A child can open it!".
B&D introduced the ‘deluxe’ Roll-A-Door in 1961, featuring an industry first, the Hubble waist-high key lock, renamed the Centre Lift lock in 1963. The new locking system eliminated the need for bending to unlock the Roll-A-Door and enabled locking or unlocking from inside or out.
Roll-a-door launches on the world
Arthur Byrne and Ray Willoughby decided to travel overseas to find licensees for the Roll-A-Door, eventually finding them in the US and European markets, to reach 19 licensees worldwide in 1977.
Nylofelt & a woman's stocking
The nylon stocking, which revolutionised ladies’ fashion, led to one of the biggest breakthroughs for the Roll-A-Door in 1968, with the development of Nylofelt, which derives its name from its woven nylon exterior and internal core of felt. Shaped like a shoelace, Nylofelt ran down each side of the Roll-A-Door, guiding it within its tracks while providing greaseless operation. Nylofelt also dramatically minimised drag and wear, and as a result The Roll-A-Door was easier than ever to open and made no more than a whisper of sound in operation.
One small step for man, one giant leap for b&d roll-a-doors
On the evening of 20 July 1969, after a successful moon landing B&D released one of the most revolutionary advertisements on Australian television. Shown on all stations throughout Australia, the advertisement featured the American astronauts landing on the moon, where they discover a B&D Roll-A-Door behind which was Chips Rafferty, a 1950s movie icon, perched over a billy can and saying, “G’Day mate. What kept ya?”
The colorbond girls
In 1971 B&D introduced the Colorbond Deluxe Roll-A-Door, featuring a new range of Colorbond Steel colours. With the challenge of advertising the new colours on black-and-white TV looming, B&D introduced the B&D Colorbond girls - Bronze Olive, Tawny Brown, Lighter Shade of Pale and Gold - all of whom were named after the new colour range.
Opens to convenience
B&D changed the way people opened their B&D Roll-A-Door in 1975, with the Controll-A-Door (CAD), an automatic rolling door opener. The Controll-A-Door opener was the first of its kind in Australia and its convenience and ease of use meant a Roll-A-Door could now be closed and opened all at the press of a button.
1 million and still rolling
In 1979 B&D sold its one millionth Roll-A-Door.
The end of an era
In 1980 B&D purpose-built a new factory/warehouse in Brisbane, Queensland to manufacture the Roll-A-Door. B&D also released the Series 1 Squareline Deluxe Profile Roll-A-Door which featured a new slimline centre lift lock. After a long and fruitful association with B&D, Arthur Byrne and Ray Willoughby sold B&D in 1985 to Clyde Industries/Development Capital of Australia. Upon acquiring the Tilt-A-Door and Panelift range of overhead and sectional doors from the Tilt-A-Door group, B&D was renamed B&D Doors.
5 million doors worldwide
B&D Doors sold the five millionth garage door worldwide. A figure that included more than 2.5 million Roll-A-Doors in Australia alone. A year later, in 2001, B&D Doors was acquired by Queensland-based CSI Doors and Catalyst Investment Managers Proprietary Limited and, in 2003, acquired Automatic Technology Australia (ATA) to become Australia ’s largest door opener manufacturer.
B&d changes ownership
B&D Doors ownership changed again in 2004, this time to proud Australian company Alesco and is recognised by the National Museum of Australia as an Australian icon. In 2005 B&D Doors bought out its largest competitor in the New Zealand market, Dominator New Zealand, to become the largest door and opener manufacturer across Australasia .
50 years and still rolling
In 2006, Roll-A-Door celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Part of the 50 year celebrations included a week long display at the National Musuem of Australia, (Canberra ACT), and the donation of a Roll-A-Door, painted by artist Gary Donnelly to The Cure Cancer Foundation of Australia. The Cure Cancer Foundation of Australia (formerly known as the Leo and Jenny Leukaemia and Cancer Foundation of Australia) was the charity that B&D founder Arthur Byrne helped to create in 1979 after the death of his brother Leo from leukaemia.
In 2008 B&D introduced another world first into the Australian market with the launch of Tri-Tran Multi Frequency Technology into the B&D Controll-A-Door range of openers. Stepping away from the 433Mhz frequency means that our customers don't get caught out with the ever increasing issue of interference.
Roll-A-Door featured in Inventive Australia campaign
In 2009, B&D was proud to have our Roll-A-Door product featured in the Australia Post, Inventive Australia campaign. A collection dedicated to successfully Australian inventions - including Hills, Esky, Speedo, the Victor lawnmower and more