Please give a detailed description of your company and
T. Brant O’Hair: O’Hair Shutters, Ltd. is a Texas partnership located in Lubbock. We manufacture interior window shutters made of real wood. The company is family run, now in the third generation.
Although our shutter manufacturing began in 1963, the company had its origin in 1939 as a retail shop fabricating custom wood blinds. Our first shutter production employed just 20 workers in a very small shop. We’ve since grown to 250 people in a 40-acre plant site.
D&WC: Who are your customers? What parts of the country do you service?
O’Hair Shutters supplies unfinished panels to custom shutter specialists across North America, and we supply shutter components to panel builders overseas.
Although we don’t produce a finished product, we supply local specialists who do the custom fabrication, finishing and installation. Our customers usually cater to interior designers in combination with direct retail.
D&WC: What best describes your niche in the marketplace?
O’Hair: Our niche is based on the understanding that custom shutter work requires custom capabilities at the local level. Our customers are experts in trim carpentry and custom finishing. They handle the custom portion of the work much better than anyone can from far away.
Our expertise is in volume millwork production. With our volume (1,000 panels per day) and the state-of-the-art machinery it supports, we’re better able to produce precision millwork at a reasonable cost. So our niche focus is to serve local shutter specialists with millwork that they customize. Homeowners and designers will find their best value with our local shutter customers.
D&WC: What are some of the key factors involved in your growth and success?
O’Hair: We’re known for product quality, but we’re also passionate about service. When customers call our 800 number a live person answers, and 90 percent of the time that service agent can handle any questions or problems.
When our current shipping schedule (posted on our Web site) isn’t fast enough (normally seven working days), we have an expedite service available. Our reputation for taking care of customers is excellent. We receive thank-you letters from customers often.
D&WC: What are your strengths in the marketplace?
O’Hair: Our greatest strength is in the quality of our panels. We’re known to build very straight and strong shutter panels. We can build wider and taller panels than most, and yet our louvers close tighter than practically any other shutter. We build panels up to nine feet tall without mid-rails, so we give homeowners a much more open view through the louvers.
We’ve learned the secret of straightness and strength by focusing on woodworking know-how. We dry our lumber in-house, which gives us better control for stress-free lumber. Then we use radio-frequency curing to produce an all edge-grain, edge-glued product. This is the key to straightness.
Our panels have tenoned louvers and rails and a tilt rod linkage rather than staples. These are the keys to strength. Our panels even withstand the abuse of commercial installations. Few companies can make that claim.
D&WC: What trends and cycles do you see occurring in the industry? How is your business addressing them?
O’Hair: The wide-louver trend is sill progressing. We’re selling mainly three-inch louver spacing now, but our four-inch spacing is growing in popularity and we’re getting requests for five-inch spacing. This trend will challenge installation methods with depth clearance issues.
D&WC: What distinguishes you from the competition?
O’Hair: Through all the promotion for wood substitutes we’ve remained committed to real wood. After decades of woodwork, we’re still in love with its natural beauty and are passionate about using it. In spite of all the hype about the various faux products, real wood is still the best and most appealing material for shutters.
D&WC: Do you educate your customers?
O’Hair: We offer training in shutter customizing at our facility in Lubbock. Rather than a class format, we use the one-on-one method to teach panel processing, frame fabrication, finishing, hardware and installation.
We’ve recently begun training on our new Customizer™ software for use in the home. Our customers will take notebook computes on sales calls to input product selections, installation design and measurements. They’ll be able to print sales contracts, custom work orders and material orders on-site. The Customizer even has a “Draw Shutter” feature to show homeowners how their windows will look.
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?
O’Hair: The most challenging area for future development in our industry is arch-top shutters. The vast majority of arched shutters is still handmade. This is expensive, inaccurate and slow. Quarterburst™, our sunburst shutter for half circles, was the first sunburst made using computer-controlled machining. Quarterburst is readily available, very precise and reasonably priced.
In about two years we hope to have horizontal-louvered panels with arch tops for eyebrow arch windows. These will be produced with the same type of computer-numeric-controlled machines. This will add new excitement to our company, turning arch window problems into solutions.
O’Hair Shutters, Ltd.
P.O. Box 2764
Lubbock, TX 79408
Fax: (888) 765-7140