Garage Door Industry Pioneer Ray Neisewander Jr. Dies at 81

Ray Neisewander Jr., chairman of the board of Raynor Worldwide, died on Oct. 25 at his home in Dixon, Ill., after a long illness. He was 81. “He slipped away comfortably and peacefully, surrounded by his family in his home,” said Ray Neisewander III, Raynor’s president, and CEO. “We could not have scripted a more graceful ending to his full and vibrant life.”

The depth and length of his involvement in the overhead door industry are unparalleled among leaders of garage door companies throughout the world, the company said in a press release. Active in the industry for a half-century, Neisewander operated a garage door dealership, worked at many positions in a garage door factory, ran that company for 25 years, and was active in the garage door manufacturers’ association for nearly 30 years.

Garage Door Industry Pioneer Ray Neisewander Jr. Dies at 81

After his college years and serving in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956, Neisewander began his garage door career in 1956 when he started a Raynor dealership in Bettendorf, Iowa. There he learned the daily challenges of running a business and selling and installing garage doors.

In 1961, Neisewander moved to Raynor’s headquarters in Dixon, Ill., and worked in all aspects of the company’s operations. In the factory, he unloaded lumber from the railcars, operated production equipment, loaded trucks, and learned machine maintenance. In the office, he worked in customer service, engineering, cost accounting, and elsewhere.

In 1968, he was promoted to executive vice president and a member of the management team, where he launched and managed the trucking division, Raynor Express. In 1979, Neisewander became the president, CEO, and chairman of the board for Raynor as well as the Kwik-Wall Co. and Raynor Hotel Corp. of Springfield, Ill.

Under his leadership, Raynor grew from a $30 million dollar company in 1979 to more than $100 million in 2000. Neisewander oversaw the rapid expansion of the company’s manufacturing facilities, expansion of its product line into commercial and residential operators and rolling doors, and expansion internationally to include distribution to more than 45 countries.

Neisewander’s active involvement in industry leadership extends to 1972 when he was first elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Garage Door Manufacturers (NAGDM). He then served as NAGDM president from 1973 to 1974. In 1986, he was elected NAGDM treasurer, an office he held until 1996 when NAGDM became DASMA (Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association). In 2000, after nearly 30 years of industry leadership, Neisewander resigned his position on the DASMA board of directors. In 2004, he became Raynor’s chairman of the board. In 2006, the International Door Association presented him with the industry’s first Heritage Award for outstanding contributions to the garage door industry.

Neisewander was also known as a generous and active supporter of dozens of charities, schools, and civic organizations in the Dixon area. In 1996, in recognition of his extensive community support, the Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce honored him as one of the first recipients of its annual Lifetime Achievement Award.

His survivors include his wife, Kim Neisewander, 10 children, 26 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. The funeral will be on Oct. 31 at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Dixon, followed by burial with military rites at the Coloma Township Cemetery in Rock Falls, Ill.

Raynor has been a family-owned manufacturer of garage doors since 1945. The company manufactures commercial sectional, rolling, and fire doors and operators, as well as residential garage doors and openers.