Sometimes it takes a larger perspective to really see developments within an industry and to plan a successful course for the future. Vertilux has such a perspective—a world view, actually, encompassing Europe and Latin America—that informs its business decisions and its view of the U.S. window coverings industry, which it believes is in for some changes.
Vertilux was founded 23 years ago by José Garcia-Garcia and
his brothers to distribute fabrics for window treatments across
the United States. As the company grew it became involved in all
aspects of window coverings including hardware and components and
in all types of products. Headquarted in Miami, FL, it has since
opened warehouses in Dallas, TX, and Los Angeles, CA. It has several
exclusive distribution centers throughout Latin America—Brazil,
Mexico, Puerto Rico and El Salvador among others.
“In addition to our wide network in the U.S and Canada, we
sell to nearly every fabricator all the way from Mexico to Argentina,
including the Caribbean,” Garcia-Garcia says. “Everybody
who is involved with making blinds buys some kind of product from
Vertilux. Some of them buy everything, others buy some products
from Vertilux and some from other sources.”
Today, Vertilux is a quintessential manufacturer supplier, the one-stop
shop for its customers. “When you talk about vertical blinds,
we have everything: we have components, we have fabrics and we have
four different types of hardware for vertical blinds,” Garcia-Garcia
“When you talk about Venetian blinds, we are the worldwide
distributor for the coil stock from Chromagraphic Processing. We
resell their coil around the world. We also have the components
for mini- and micro-blinds.
“For wood blinds, we import basswood and resell it also from
our facilities here in Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, Mexico, Brazil,
Puerto Rico and elsewhere; and we also have complete componentry
“For roller shades we have fabrics and the components. Our
main roller shade focus is on our premier screen line, Vision. We
also have two beautiful collections of bamboo shades. We have complete
programs for cellular and pleated shades, sliding panels, and Roman
shades—basically the full-line of window coverings.”
D&WC: What, in your opinion,
is the current state of the window coverings market in the United
José Garcia-Garcia: We
see the market as very good for us, but that doesn’t mean
that the market overall is good. We have a specific niche in the
market. The market has been good for us because we go to more independent
fabricators, and we have been successful in tailoring our efforts
D&WC: So what role does
Vertilux play in the U.S. market?
U.S. market is led by companies that do hundreds of millions of
dollars a year in business because they are part of a group of big
companies—huge groups—and there are not many companies
like Vertilux in the middle level. You don’t see many companies
like Vertilux in the market. We are probably the company, as an
independent supplier, that has the most penetration in the entire
United States with a big customer base, and this is getting better
and better for us.
Our company is getting more mature, is gaining more of the confidence
of the customers and every year we are getting customers who were
difficult before to get, but they are opening their doors for us
D&WC: How has the U.S.
window coverings industry changed since you started nearly 25 years
many years, the biggest part of the industry was vertical blinds—and
vertical binds made with PVC, which are very easy to make even for
very small companies. The business is getting more and more specialized.
What I see right now is that all the mom-and-pop companies are getting
into trouble. For inexpensive things, consumers increasingly go
to mass merchants and they get ready-made blinds. For custom-made,
consumers are becoming more demanding and they ask for more specialized
things like motorization and automation. The small guys, they are
not really prepared for this.
Only a few companies in the entire country have the knowledge to
work with motorization on blinds. This is becoming a big issue.
You can see that here in South Florida in all these nice big condos
on Miami Beach, some of these jobs go to $30,000 and $40,000 in
blinds because they all have remote controls, computer-control of
blinds, or intelligent houses. I see the market going in that direction.
Actually, two directions: the low-end product will be sold, and
is being sold, through the mass merchants; and the high-end product
is becoming more and more specialized and more sophisticated so
it will require more knowledge and more modernization from the fabricators.
The fabricators really need to move forward and be prepared for
manufacturing more technical blinds and shades.
D&WC: Is Vertilux helping
fabricators move in that direction?
An advantage that we have is that one of our affiliated companies
in Spain, Bandalux, has a whole department just for automation and
motorization, so the people there are very knowledgeable. Also,
our distribution centers, in Mexico and other places, have very
well trained people for motorization.
At Vertilux, here in Miami, even though we do not manufacture the
motors we are totally involved with motors. We have motors in stock—from
U.S. and European sources—so we are totally involved in motorization
of products, and we have people in our company to help fabricators.
As a matter of fact, we’ve had people come in from California
for training on motorization. We do these seminars in Miami—sometimes
we do it ourselves, sometimes we work with our vendors. We are ready
to help whoever wants to work with us on this development.
D&WC: In the U.S. market,
what factors drive the industry—price, technology, consumer
definitely a combination of factors. I will give you an example
of the everyday reality on the street. Some customers ask for a
specific brand name product. If the retailer carries that product
he can offer that product, but if they offer the customer well presented
alternatives, such as the Vertilux Collections, then the customer
will often select the alternative products.
The consumer, sometimes, doesn’t know what to buy because
they have only one person come to the home and they see what that
person has and they buy whatever that person is offering. But if
they have the choice of several options, they will go for a combination
of innovation, price and quality product.
D&WC: How would you compare
the U.S. market the European window coverings market?
are different—but not completely. To me the major difference
between the American market and the European market is that for
a big percentage of the blinds in Europe the thinking is on energy
savings and that is not the case here. For example, in Europe, for
commercial jobs, exterior shades are very popular all over. People
don’t think about that much here in the United States. It’s
the same thing with houses. Everything for a house that is made
in Europe is about saving heat and saving air conditioning—double
glass for the windows, for example—and you don’t commonly
see that here even in a very hot place like Florida. It’s
not always a part of the mentality here—not yet. But this
is going to be the major change in this market because it has to
Another difference is that technical fabrics for commercial—and
even for residential—applications are very important in Europe.
It is very important to have flame retardant fabrics because there
are countries, like France, where almost everything has to be flame
retardant—to a very high level, most of the jobs require that,
while in the U.S. these requirements are usually used only for commercial
D&WC: What accomplishments
or programs are you most proud of?
is a feeling that I have . . . We are one of the very few European
companies that came into the United States and that is still here
and doing well. The U.S. market is very, very tough. I saw a lot
of people trying to come from France, Italy, even from Germany,
and somehow you don’t see many European companies important
in window coverings here. We have made the leap from being a European
company to being an American company.
Vertilux has been here almost 25 years and is getting better and
stronger. This year we are experiencing another record year. This
is a big year for us.
A major accomplishment for our company is the position we now hold
as one of the few companies in the world that manufactures a technically
advanced and high quality screen, our Vision collection. To my knowledge,
we are the only mill dedicated exclusively to the window coverings
industry that manufactures the screen and the yarn for the screen.
This dedication to Vision has led to the product quality that I
believe is quite praiseworthy.
I am also very proud of having an extraordinary team, of working
with my brothers to build a major global organization, and I believe
that we have developed a highly dedicated staff with a partnership
that will benefit not only our group of companies, but our customers
D&WC: Where do you see
Vertilux headed in the next five years?
we would like to do—and it’s not easy, but we’re
trying to find a way to do it—is to make Vertilux a sought
after brand name in the U.S. It’s not now, but we have several
major strategic programs in place to make this objective. This will
change in the future.
Something we are considering is to establish official Vertilux distributors
across the country. We think it probably is going to take another
three or four years, but that’s the direction we may want
to go in the future. We already have this in some countries outside
of the United States and it’s working very well. We probably
will do the same here in the United States in the future and have
official Vertilux distributors all over the country.
One of the things we want to do is put more emphasis on the technical
fabrics that we do, like Vision screen fabric. There are very few
manufacturers of screen fabric in the world, and we are one of them.
We are producing an extraordinary product, and it has had the greatest
growth of any of our categories.
Screen has become a very popular window covering because in offices
there is a goal of creating the right environment as far as controlling
the light and glare and heat and the screen plays a very important
role in this. Residentially, it is also growing, as homes have some
of the same demands of offices: energy efficiency, light control
and privacy. We offer many colors and the people appreciate that.
Vision screen offers more than 65 colors in a growing assortment
of six styles. This helps us to meet the demand for style and design.