D&WC: Please give a detailed description of your company and its history.
Steve Vastine: HighLite, Inc. was formed in 1996 and started to market and develop a patent-pending arched window covering, now known as the HighLite Arch. We currently have 13 employees and occupy a 10,000-square-foot fabricating facility located in the industrial district of downtown Dallas, TX.
A little over a year ago I bought out my business partner and am now the sole owner of the company.
In addition to that, we have recently discontinued distribution through The Blind Maker, Austin, TX, which is a large window coverings fabricator—previously fabricating for Graber and now fabricating under the Kirsch label.
At this point, we have no sales force other than the marketing we do at trade shows and in print advertising through the trade publications. Our product is unique in that it is simple enough to train and introduce via our instructional video and print literature, which we supply at no cost to our customers. We have hundreds of customers around the country with whom we have never personally met, but have close relationships with due to our intense emphasis on customer service.
D&WC: What window coverings products did you handle initially? What products do you handle today?
Vastine: Initially, our product line consisted of an operable arch window covering utilizing a round light pattern. This is now referred to as "Style A."
Although our product line has remained limited, we now offer two styles of light patterns (round and square), non-operable arches, solid arches and solid arches with appliqués. We have recently added a sun-screen blockout for the openings in the non-operable product line which we feel will be a huge addition to our business.
D&WC: What distinguishes you from the competition?
Vastine: We are extremely distinguished and distanced from our competitors due to the fact that we have been able to reach a national customer base without a national sales force.
It is totally unique to the industry for a small company handling a specific product to be able to open hundreds of accounts around the country, service those accounts, and build the type of reputation that we have built without a single sales professional.
D&WC: What is your approximate sales volume? What was it after your first year in business?
Vantine: HighLite sales were approximately $350,000 our first year in business. We have maintained a consistent growth and will reach sales in excess of $1 million for calendar year 2000.
D&WC: What are some of the key factors involved in your growth and success?
Vastine: Our growth and success is attributed to supplying a cost-effective, functional product on time, every time with efficiency.
As window covering professionals, we believe it is important to stay at the leading edge and to always maintain a professional and organized approach to the customer. The reason individuals choose small retailers as opposed to the box stores is service. This is what we help our customers to provide.
D&WC: Who are your customers? What parts of the country do you service?
Vastine: We sell directly to retailers. Our customer base consists of window coverings professionals across the United States.
The largest segment of our business is predominantly in the southern quadrant of the U.S. Our business is stronger in this region due to the fact that our initial marketing was all through The Blind Maker and that is where their market strength lies.
To help our customers reach us, wherever they are located, HighLite, Inc. has a Web site, www.highliteinc.com, and we can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
D&WC: Do you educate your customers?
Vastine: The bulk of the education of our customers is done through our video presentation which is sent to every new account and can be requested at any time by an existing customer.
We also do between eight to 10 trade shows per year where we train designers.
D&WC: How has your segment of the industry changed since you first began?
Vastine: Our unique niche in the window coverings industry is changing rapidly and a lot of that change is due to companies attempting to compete with HighLite, Inc. There are several alternatives to our product on the market, none of which we actually consider competition.
D&WC: What trends and cycles do you see occurring in the industry?
Vastine: There is a trend in the industry towards the mass marketers. HighLite, Inc. intends to continue to be a reason to break that trend due to the fact that our loyalty is, and will continue to be, to the small- to mid-size window coverings professional.
D&WC: Where do you see yourself and your company five years from now? Are there additional areas within the industry that you would like to get involved in?
Vastine: We intend to continue a constant and controlled growth by adding quality designers to our customer base, while at the same time developing new and innovative products, several of which are currently in the development stages and will be rolled out in the year 2001.
158 Express St.
Dallas, TX 75207
Fax: (214) 741-4580