Donald R. McIlnay, president, Levolor Home Fashions: Levolor Home Fashions (LHF) was formed in 1994 when Newell Co., owner of Levolor, purchased Home Fashions, Inc. Joanna Window Fashions was acquired in 1995, and the company now features the product lines of Levolor, LouverDrape, Del Mar and Joanna brands.
LHF is headquartered in High Point, NC, with approximately 50,000 square feet of office building and an approximate 193,000-square-foot plant. We employ 2,300 associates. LHF's other locations include Athens, GA; Garden Grove, CA; Westminister, CA; Rockaway, NJ; Ogden, UT; Salt Lake City, UT; South Holland, IL; and Mexico.
Richard Boyle, vice president, retail sales: More specifically, Del Mar, a brand of Levolor Home Fashions, was founded in 1947 by T.H. Liken and his sons in Long Beach, CA. Woven woods and blinds, popular during the 1950s and 1960s, became the primary product line and Del Mar soon grew to be the industry leader.
D&WC: What window coverings products did you handle initially? What products do you handle today?
Boyle: Del Mar actually began as a local two-inch Venetian blind and screen door company. Woven woods, however, propelled Del Mar into a national company.
Today, Del Mar is a multi-million dollar national brand. It encompasses a full-service, full value, complete product line offering traditional Venetian and wood blinds, pleated and cellular shades and vertical blinds. Plus, Del Mar will introduce two new sampling programs in September.
D&WC: What one product or line stands out above the rest?
Boyle: Del Mar possesses an even mix in sales. Being a traditional market share leader, this is evidence that Del Mar is a "meat and potatoes," full-service brand, evenly distributed and not limited.
D&WC: Is your business computerized?
McIlnay: Yes, in fact, our company has recently converted to Newell's state-of-the-art operational and order processing system. Not just a window coverings company, but a retail industry leader and a national retail sales guru, Newell's operating system allows us to give fast, accurate and timely customer service.
This fall, LHF will introduce Custom Express, the most sophisticated custom ordering system on the market with ease of use. Custom Express will assist the sales associate and consumer through the process of ordering a custom window covering error-free.
D&WC: How is your sales staff organized?
Boyle: Primarily, we target direct regional retailers on a national basis and key national department stores.
Del Mar is supported by a national selling organization and a specific customer service group. These associates specifically call on retailers, not national accounts. For infrequent purchasers, we have a professional staff of inside sales representatives totally focused on this group and available by telephone to answer questions and to help customers build their businesses. The result is a more focused, customer-oriented group of sales professionals.
D&WC: How has your segment of the industry changed since you first began?
McIlnay: In the 1980s, the regimen was the more products you had, the more you had to sell. By selling the LHF philosophy (one company/four differentiated brands), we are stating that there is a stronger need for customer market differentiation. Its is imperative that those in the industry go with a product and service regimen to differentiate themselves and their product offerings from that of the competition.
At Levolor Home Fashions, we believe simple is better. We believe in cutting through the confusion by offering a simple selling proposition to the customer.
D&WC: Where do you see yourself and your company in five years?
Boyle: We envision Del Mar as becoming a cornerstone of the LHF approach to its direct retail business through focused sales and service and by taking a growing part in fashion leadership.
D&WC: What are your strengths in the marketplace?
Boyle: Again, focused sales and service, fashionable choices, simplified propositions and ordering procedures, we feel is our key within the industry.
D&WC: What advice would you give to other window coverings professionals?
McIlnay: Do not let your business get too complicated. Have a specific and dynamic selling proposition.
D&WC: What trends and cycles do you see occurring in the industry?
McIlnay: In the 1980s, there were more choices in product categories. In the 1990s, specifically the latter '90s, we saw an upsurge in simplicity, fewer yet more diverse choices with a clear, definitive selling proposition that allowed for a clearer value choice by the consumer.
D&WC: What distinguishes you from the competition?
McIlnay: Levolor Home Fashions is comprised of four nationally known brands with the ability to focus on specific products. Most of our product lines stand for the categories they represent. for example, Levolor is horizontal blinds, LouverDrape is vertical blinds and Joanna is roller shades.
D&WC: Do you educate your customers?
McIlnay: Absolutely! Our sales representatives train our customers regularly through product seminars and training videos. Our national account representatives have just completed a training series entitled "Levolor Olympics" that included not only teaching new product knowledge, but also added a little friendly competition. "Levolor Olympics" was a great success with the accounts.
D&WC: Do you work through distributors or sell direct to retailers?
Boyle: We primarily sell Del Mar direct to the retailer. But, on a limited basis, we also sell through our fabricator division and inside sales.
D&WC: What distinguishes your products in the marketplace?
Boyle: Del Mar is a targeted brand supported by a very specific sales and service team. Plus, the brand is a full product line positioned at the leading edge of "meat and potatoes" fashion -- not to the point of taking risks on fashion, but offering fundamentals. Del Mar offers the consumer lots of fashion, which is represented in its new vertical blind sample book featuring a complete fashionable product line.
McIlnay: LHF has provided new products in the market as the result of the financial strength of our parent company, Newell. Such new products include beautiful, fashion-forward sampling devices updated for the first time in four years, new product lines, new technology, such as deep embossed finishes in vertical blinds, and new accent pieces, such as wood cornices. Del Mar, a brand of Levolor Home Fashions
Del Mar, a brand of Levolor Home Fashions
4110 Premier Dr.
High Point, NC 27265
Fax: (910) 881-5700
Manufacturer and fabricator of a complete line of alternate window coverings.