D&WC: Please give a brief description of your company and its history.
Ken Gilmore: My brother John and I founded Gilmore Enterprises in 1980 with a focus on the apartment drapery replacement trade. Our company grew very quickly to be one of the southwest's largest contract drapery companies. Utilizing my previous experiences in the Orient, an opportunity to exploit lower cost components at the onset of the vertical blind trend fueled tremendous revenue growth for us.
We sensed the potential in supplying our own high-quality products to the trade, so we entered the fabricator supply channel in 1987 with vertical componentry. We then became aware of a lack of competition in the two-inch arena, so horizontal components were added in 1994.
Our low profile componentry proved to fuel demand for a higher quality alternative to the traditional two- by two-inch classic headrail. While a 15-cent part might not seem critical, without its proper operation, a $100 blind will not function. The fabricator's reliance on a dependable supplier stimulated substantial growth.
You may not know it, but the likelihood of our parts being in your completed blind is high.
D&WC: What one product or line stands out above the rest?
John Gilmore: Nineteen ninety-nine provided an exciting opportunity to develop and distribute a pioneering product that combines the appeal of a fabric shade with the operational practicality of a two-inch horizontal blind, SoftView Venetian Shades. SoftView has the type of product innovation that normally ends up owned by a major brand, but it slipped through the cracks into the hands of this group of passionate individuals we have at Gilmore Enterprises. The independent fabricator had been begging for innovation in their product offerings.
SoftView is the industry's first fabric Venetian shade. It is a narrow, woven polyester slat with integrally woven pockets on both leading edges. Inserted into each pocket is a thin stiffening rod. The combination creates a fabric slat that operates similar to any other two-inch blind.
SoftView is arguably the industry's most durable window treatment. The fabric slats are impervious to moisture. An acrylic-based coating protects the fabric against staining, static and mildew. The woven fabric offers colors and textures unavailable with other fabric shadings. It is very simple to maintain. SoftView is washable or can be ultrasonically cleansed.
SoftView can be fabricated on any two-inch operating system. Wide, continuous, seamless widths are possible—up to 16 feet wide. The program is inclusive of all componentry and branded collateral materials. A gorgeous sample album is available as well as a merchandiser for in-home sales. At retail, SoftView is positioned at the price point of a two-inch basswood blind.
D&WC: How has your segment of the industry changed since you first began?
Ken Gilmore: Recently, the trade has begun to hear from the industry leader regarding the beauty of the translucent effect at the window created by light-filtering products. Clearly, translucency is in growing demand. Our SoftView product is positioned as an alternative to much higher-priced shadings products and as a more elegant two-inch blind product.
Craig Robinson: The trade's hunger for innovative products that appeal to a wide consumer base is enormous. Gilmore's introduction of CountryView[TM] at last year's Baltimore trade show was unbelievable. Our patent-pending 2 1/2-inch shutter blind is fabricated on any two-inch operating system. The unique slat profile combines the softness of a traditional elliptical shutter slat with a flat center portion on the top and bottom for ease of manufacturing and dimensional interest. The soft shadowing that occurs at each bevel line is appreciated whether the blind is closed in the up or down position.
D&WC: What are some of the key factors involved in your growth and success?
Ken Gilmore: Obsession with details and a commitment to total customer satisfaction are driving principles of our company.
We supply componentry and products to the window coverings fabricator network, and our customers have come to rely on our competency as a company and on our products to allow for their production of the highest quality blinds.
D&WC: How are your products marketed?
John Gilmore: The industry acceptance of the SoftView product along with CountryView 2 1/2-inch Shutter Blind has been overwhelming. As a result, effective February 1, we have appointed ITA, St. Augustine, FL, a well-respected marketing and product development organization, as our exclusive sales firm. ITA is composed of passionate industry veterans that service the North American, South American and European markets.
In addition, we have agreed to take over as ITA's MikronWood[TM] distributor. The opportunity for both our companies' customers to leverage their freight costs was too overwhelming an opportunity to pass up. We both stand committed to total customer satisfaction. Between our two companies, an incredible amount of visionary products have been introduced to the trade in the last 10 years.
The depth of resources available from our two companies will be exciting to observe in the years to come. craig robinson, our vice president of sales, believes that the combined product lines will appeal to our current customer bases, which we value highly, and at the same time reach some new customers who currently don't consider us.
Bill Harris, the president of ITA, is excited about adding our products to ITA's offering of high-quality window fashions. As a group they are especially looking forward to the opportunity of promoting our SoftView Venetian Shades.