The Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) this year recognized 33 winners from among 86 entries for its Product Innovation Awards. Products were entered into 10 categories ranging from drapery hardware to merchandising—as full a set of possibilities as anyone could imagine.
Anyone thinking that there’s never anything new in the window coverings industry should take another look at the winners’ list (see D&WC, March 2008, page 23). Right off the top you’ll notice an award for the Product of the Year—if that’s not saying, “Hey, look, this is new,” then I don’t know how else to say it. Continue down the list and you’ll find: Green Products. This is a new category added to reflect a growing concern among homeowners and the industry’s response to it. If your customers aren’t already asking about green products, they will very soon.
Each of the award categories seeks to recognize new style concepts, technical innovations, overall design and safety. Some of these, such as technical innovation, might sound a bit dry and uninteresting—lacking the Wow Factor of a completely new product sure to revolutionize the industry—but think again. Most often, those hard-to-notice-at-first developments are what make the products you sell and install better, safer, easier to use and longer lasting for your customer, and shouldn’t that be worth an award?
We took a closer look at the list of winners and picked a few of our favorites (page 24). The reasons for choosing these vary. The Product of the Year—well, there’s really nothing else out there like Hunter Douglas’ Pirouette. Helser Brothers’ Jewels is quite fun and gives a creative person lots of freedom. Comfortex’s Envision roller shade and EcoGreen fabric hit the mark in addressing the growing concern among homeowners. It’s so nice to see the attractive headrail Levolor uses on its Perceptions soft verticals, still a highly functional product category. And Somfy’s remote with a scroll wheel for tilting blinds shows it has control well in hand.
The Product Innovation Awards are open to all manufacturers and suppliers in the United States and Canada. The call for entries usually goes out late in the year with a deadline at the end of January. The list of winners should be on everybody’s review list, and some time should be taken to check out the progress in product development. The next innovation could be your next top seller.