Midwest Iron Doors’ designer Dan Cullinane designs unique metal artworks for building exteriors and interiors. His creations grace the doorways of some of Omaha’s finest residences. We asked Cullinane about the design process, where he gets his inspiration, and how the company is poised for growth.
Q: Tell us a bit about your personal background. How did you come to work for Midwest Iron Doors?
A: I grew up in Papillion and went to school there as well. I’ve always had an interest in art, and I enjoyed drawing a lot as a child. My family’s business was in construction, so I grew up enjoying building and creating things. I still do. For years, I worked for the owner, Ryan [Steele], on and off between my deployments in the Army and while I worked for OPPD. Then, Ryan offered me a full-time job, and I left my position to help him grow Midwest Iron Doors. Ryan is definitely my mentor. He is successful at everything he does and is very dedicated to all aspects of his companies. He’s not afraid to take risks.
Q: Tell us a bit about your product and the company. What makes Midwest Iron Doors unique?
A: We are the only iron door company in the U.S. that offers a true thermally-broken door. These doors provide thermal insulation while maintaining maximum structural strength. This is our own patent-pending design. The thermal break design is the brainchild of me, Ryan Steele, and Lane Hinton. We started the design with a simple drawing on a dry erase board two years ago and after working long hours to create prototypes and deal with redesigns, we came to where we are today. Our doors range from around $3,000 to whatever the customer wants. We’re in the middle of transitioning to a supplier and setting up dealers across the U.S. We currently have five dealers in Iowa, three dealers in Nebraska, and one dealer in Kansas.
Q: What is the process for creating one of your original works?
A: Our doors start out as an openingdrawn into a blueprint. We take that opening and the vision of the homeowner and create something that is not only a door but an expression of who they are. The most creative part is taking what a customer has in their mind and turning it into a design on paper. The most challenging is definitely the construction aspect of the doors and ensuring that the customer gets the highest quality.
Q: Besides ideas from customers, what inspires your designs? Tell us about one of your
A: There are many things that inspire our door designs. We take into account shapes from nature, the architecture in surrounding buildings, and pieces of art that may have a special meaning to someone. One of my favorite projects was last year’s Street of Dreams home for Absolute Customs. The home’s interior designer, Sallie Elliott, went with a vintage Omaha decorating theme. We were asked to contribute, and I drew inspiration from the Joslyn Castle when creating a front door for the home.
Q: Who makes up Midwest Iron Doors’ clientele? How do you market your products?
A: Our customers are generally mid- to high-end homeowners who want to add a detail to their home that sets them apart. Our doors are used for home entries, wine cellars, and even commercial and apartment buildings. We recently supplied doors for a historic dorm remodel at Kansas University. We market our product by putting ads in numerous direct mail publications. We also do four home shows a year, and we supply doors to builders who are in the Street of Dreams. We had four doors in last year’s Street of Dreams and already have two doors in progress for this year’s Street of Dreams and are hoping to add to that number.
Q: Tell us a bit about you personally.
A: My wife, Jessica, and I have been married for over five years now. I have one boy, 18 months, and a newborn son born in April. I enjoy spending time with my family, whether that means walking the trails by our home or catching a bite to eat somewhere in town.