There are indications that the coming year will be one for growth. We have seen the industry grow in 2004, and the expectation is that it will continue. The window coverings industry has weathered remarkably well the economic uncertainties of the recent past, and now with a national election behind us and a new year beginning, it is time to plan ahead.
The effects of low interest rates and home mortgage refinancing
are with us still. Customers moving in and out of new and existing
homes create the market. The desire of homeowners for well-appointed,
comfortable interiors opens the higher end of the market, and improvements
in production efficiencies bring a wider range of quality products
price points in the market. It’s all good.
We asked some of the industry’s top leaders to comment on what
they see ahead in 2005. Judging by these replies we’ll see
new product introductions, higher quality products marketed and
help from suppliers in creating quality and benefit awareness among
THE GOLD STANDARD
Window Fashions, Inc.
I believe the shutter business will continue to grow significantly
in 2005. Shutters are often considered the gold standard of window
coverings. Shutters address both aesthetic and functional concerns.
Springs Window Fashions, in January, will introduce a wood and synthetic
shutter line Graber Traditions™ Shutters (see page 14). It
will be the only national custom color program in the shutter industry.
The shipping time will be 10 to 15 days, which is so important today.
Roller shades also have come back strong and are being used as an
upscale window treatment.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Santa Fe Springs, CA
The best strategy for the coming year is simple: sell the products
consumers are looking for! Our industry has been buzzing about the
phenomenal increase in shutter sales. We have definitely seen it
here at Norman Shutters with our third year of double-digit growth.
Indications suggest sustained development throughout 2005.
Sales of shutters will continue to expand as consumer awareness
of the benefits and versatility of shutters increases. Shutters
are recognized by many as one of few window treatments that appreciate
the value of a home. Today’s consumer is driven to attain levels
of style and luxury that challenges our industry to deliver the
best. Homeowners have access to more resources and have become remarkably
educated and discerning about shutter quality and features.
It is no longer enough to issue platitudes about quality. Consumers
demand proof of manufacturers’ claims that must translate into
genuine benefits. They also require higher levels of shutter customization,
including colors and styles, to express the unique design aspects
of their homes. Consumers expect all of this at a reasonable price
and won’t pay for value they do not receive.
Norman Shutters exceeds industry expectations for trouble-free ordering,
delivery, installation and performance. In the coming year we will
be introducing exciting new custom shutter products, plus enhancements
to our broad line of custom hardwood and wood composite shutters,
in order to ensure growth and profitability for our customers. Best
wishes for a strong and rewarding 2005!
DON’T BE LEFT OUT
Current estimates place the size of window coverings automation
at between one and two percent of a $5 billion window coverings
market. Prognosticators predict that this share will double over
the next three to five years. That would make it well over a $200
million dollar slice. Of course, the pie will be split between commercial
and residential, but we expect residential to grow faster. Important
for the retail market is how this development will affect the distribution
channels this coming year and in the future.
In our diverse retail market this motorization business obviously
will not simply fall into the lap of one or two major manufacturers
of turnkey lift systems or low voltage and battery-operated systems.
Nor can or will most of it be forced through the channel of expensive
control networks such as lighting controls. These two channels both
introduce the risk that a large portion of the well-established
specialty window coverings dealers
will be left out of the growth curve.
These dealers have to be offered the opportunity to comfortably
participate in the motorization market that is now growing so rapidly.
BTX offers a complete program of motorized and automated systems
and a unique support system that dealers can count on and turn to
so that they also can provide their customers with motorization
solutions at all levels. We expect to work closely with many more
dealers who will actively start expanding their businesses with
motorization in 2005 and beyond.
Director of Marketing
O’Hair Shutters, Ltd.
For 2005 and beyond, the U.S. window coverings industry must redouble
its efforts in development of upscale product lines and services
along with brand name promotion to support appropriate pricing.
World market pressures are turning previously successful product
categories into commodities complete with commodity pricing. Upscale
consumers, however, will continue to pay for upscale features and
service, but they must be educated on the brand names that define
quality. This goes beyond promotion of the manufacturer’s trademarks
to even the “brand name” of the retailer.
Toward this goal, O'Hair Shutters, Ltd. will in 2005 be introducing
several product line additions and options that will support higher
retail pricing. Alongside these new items will be marketing programs
designed to assist the dealer in common brand name promotion including
the dealer’s own trademark. Central to this marketing effort
will be the Homeowner’s Transferable Limited Warranty™,
the only shutter warranty that will transfer to each owner of the
home. Through this program, dealers receive a Homeowner Rating™
certificate for use in their marketing. O’Hair Shutters, Ltd.
will be providing extra marketing assistance and exclusivity to
dealers with high ratings from the homeowner.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Forest Group USA
2005 represents a fantastic sales opportunity for Forest Group customers.
There are many exciting new products and programs that are being
debuted in the new year. In the following text I will highlight
the best opportunities and sales strategies available to Forest
We are aggressively marketing and branding our three drapery hardware
lines of KS track and components, Maderas Zabala imported Spanish
wood, and Busche imported German contemporary hardware. With these
three lines under the same discount structure we can now offer a
complete line of decorative hardware solutions that can satisfy
the most demanding customers.
On the new product front we are proud to announce three new hardware
systems: Roman Blind System (RBS), Panel System (PS) and Forest
Motorized System (FMS). The RBS allows customers to fabricate a
heavy-duty pull-up system in half of the time and cost of traditional
roll-up systems. The PS is a hot new alternative to vertical blinds.
will now be exclusively powered by Techniku, a leader in home automation.
We truly believe we now offer the most distinctive and functional
hardware collection in the world.