Even traditional “hard” window treatments have taken on a softer look and feel. Homeowners have gone beyond a single layer treatment, adding top treatments, drapery panels and sheer fabrics. And one of the hottest trends today is trimmings and embellishments—the details highlighting the decorator touch.
Of course, this doesn’t come as news to ADO International, Aschendorf, Germany, which has been growing continuously with this trend over the last half-century. On this side of the Atlantic, ADO-U.S.A. provides decorators with fabrics for sheers, draperies, soft shades, bed coverings and tablecloths as well as top treatments and decorative accessories—and a workroom, too.
In 2004, ADO International celebrated 50 years in business while ADO-U.S.A. turned 25 (see D&WC, October 2004, page 28). In this exclusive interview with Draperies & Window Coverings, ADO’s Klaus Wulf talks about the importance of meeting consumer demand by balancing the company’s two traditions: innovation and global trend-setting design. ADO’s innovations not only come in the machinery and processes of creating wide, seamless fabrics, but in the fabrics themselves—their stability and colorfastness. Its trend-setting designs come as a result of international design experts creating contemporary classics. The combination is hard to beat.
“ADO has been growing continuously for years as the sole worldwide manufacturer offering value-added products along the entire chain, from yarn production to the cut-to-size finished products,” Wulf states. “In addition, ADO is also a leader in design topics, offering the most beautiful, the best quality and the most representative of all fabrics in the world, designed by international top designers.”
D&WC: What factors currently drive the industry? Price? Consumer demand?
Klaus Wulf: All of the factors you mentioned—price, product, consumer demand and technology—have a very important influence on the industry. A company such as ADO, for example, must always make sure that innovative technologies and products are developed that reflect the wishes and needs of our customers. Yet, the price/service ratio must balance out.
In terms of products, ADO is a trendsetter. We orient ourselves toward the consumer. We develop new technologies to produce high-fashion, high-quality products that are guaranteed for five years to be washable, dimensionally stable, colorfast and free of manufacturing defects. We pride ourselves on our excellent ability to deliver on that commitment.
D&WC: What is ADO’s role in the window coverings industry? How did it achieve that role?
Wulf: ADO sets the trends in designs and has put its emphasis on the innovation of production technology and products, as well as on top designs.
At ADO, we focus on “innovation from tradition.” We offer
the most beautiful and most modern fabrics, but we have never neglected
the classics. With our focus on “innovation from tradition,”
we offer our customers continuity in development from the most traditional
designs and fabrics to the most modern. We continuously and reliably
serve our customer partners with the products consumers need and
Especially in turbulent times, people yearn for a comfortable home. The decorative fabrics and products offered from ADO—from draperies to top treatments, bed coverings, soft shades, swags and tablecloths—provide the desired atmosphere and cozy homes consumers are looking for.
D&WC: Where do you see ADO headed in the short-term, in the longer term? How will it get there? What do you see as your personal role in these plans?
Wulf: ADO has played and continues to play an important role in the U.S. drapery and window coverings market. The most prominent homes in the United States are decorated with ADO fabrics—you will find ADO fabrics in Air Force One.
Over the past 50 years [25 years in the United States] we have created a solid base from which we will continue to grow and develop. That base is our technical skills to produce high-quality products and the trust of our customers, which we have earned.
Over the next five years, we want to secure and expand our market share, and our goal is for ADO to become known as a brand name in people’s minds. We are also striving for market leadership in the United States. To do that, we want to reinforce our presence at the point-of-sale and to expand the collections we offer. At the moment, ADO is still like a small tender plant, but we will do our best to change it into a stately sunflower over the next five years.
In 10 years, our goal is to grow ADO into an entire field of sunflowers—in other words: market leadership. In Europe, we have positioned ourselves in the premium homeowner segment of the market and are successfully conquering this market in the high-end, high-value range.
D&WC: What accomplishments or programs are you most proud of?
Wulf: ADO is very proud of its technical, manufacturing and marketing skills and its unique ability to deliver to customers a trend-setting product, from yarn production to high-quality fabrics to cut-to-size drapery products.
ADO also offers—as a true U.S.-based company—“Made in the USA” quality, but it also has European roots and we are proud of this tradition as well.
D&WC: Have there been any surprises—programs or products that have done better than first thought?
Wulf: The success of ADOWrap has been a wonderful surprise for us. The idea to combine a vertical blind product with the benefits of a fabric curtain originated with one of our sales agents. Since we first offered ADOWrap, many other manufactures have tried to copy our product, but our original has just been too good to fully copy.
D&WC: On a more personal note, who have been some your greatest influences in business, or in the industry specifically?
Wulf: My father, Hubert Wulf, who founded ADO-U.S.A. 26 years ago is my biggest idol.
D&WC: What are your personal goals/passions?
Wulf: Two areas in my personal life are very important to me and are my best energy sources: my family and my love for horses and the sport of polo.
Currently, I own seven horses that take up much of the little free time that I have. It provides the necessary balance for my business and entrepreneurial activities. Going horseback riding clears my head and helps me to devote most of my time to my work.
During a worldwide recession in 1954, Hubert Wulf and his wife, Marianne, established ADO Gardinenwerke in the small, northern rural town of Aschendorf, Germany. The company takes its name from the city where it started: Aschendorf. ADO Gardinenwerke succeeded in part due to the Wulfs’ unparalleled vision and innovative ideas; however, the most important factor was ADO’s technical superiority and faithfulness to maintain high quality manufacturing of 118-inch seamless drapery fabrics and accessories.
Upon the success of ADO Gardinenwerke, the Wulfs envisioned an expansion across the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than merely import the finest seamless fabrics to the United States, he dedicated himself to importing the technology and knowledge of manufacturing the best seamless fabrics and draperies. Thus, ADO Corp. was born.
Wulf’s vision of success continued until his death in 1989. His wife Marianne carried on Hubert’s purview in the position of Chairperson of the Board until her death in 1994. Today, Hubert and Marianne’s sons, Klaus and Andreas, are responsible for leading ADO Gardinenwerke, ADO Corp. and all other ADO facilities worldwide.
Currently, both brothers manage ADO International. With Klaus’ and Andreas’ innovative ideas, dedication and support, ADO Corp. is poised to meet the future and continue to provide all of its partners with unlimited opportunities and success.