McIlnay brought 14 years of sales and marketing experience to Levolor Home Fashions from work in various divisions of Newell. He began with Newell Window Fashions in 1979. In 1987, when Newell purchased Anchor Hocking, McIlnay was named president of its plastics division. McIlnay also directed the startup of the Newell Industries window shade company in Canada and was president of Newell Office Products Group at the time Newell purchased Levolor on May 1, 1993.
"With my background, when I saw some of the biggest names in the window coverings business coming together I thought it would be a great opportunity to work with them," McIlnay says. "I volunteered for the job!" he laughs.
Vision and Focus
Strategic planning and bringing a long-term vision and focus to Levolor Home Fashions has received McIlnay's primary attention since assuming the position of president in June 1993.
Since then, McIlnay's goal has been to reALIGN four solid, well known brand name products and develop a single marketing strategy for them. To do that has required relocating separate facilities into the newly constructed High Point plant -- in the case of Levolor, moving it all the way across the country from Sunnyvale, CA. But more importantly, it has required developing a marketplace focus. Today, the company no longer has a division for each brand, McIlnay says. Instead, there is a retail, national accounts, fabricator and contract division, each able to offer four product names that are differentiated by market, price and quality. The idea, he says, it to present a multi-product offering to customers that will fit the needs of their markets.
Retailers won't have to stock and display a lot of products from many manufacturers to meet their customers' interests, McIlnay explains. Retailers can setup their businesses to offer products on a good, better, best quality basis, or offer standard and premium lines of products, however they choose. Whatever a customer's market demands -- horizontal or vertical blinds, roller, pleated or cellular shades, woven woods or wood cornices -- Levolor Home Fashions can supply products for each market category.
Along with the ability to offer four differentiated brand name products from one source, McIlnay says this focus on marketplace rather than products will become Levolor Home Fashions greatest strength.
Keep It Simple
Simplicity is a reoccurring theme for Levolor Home Furnishings. The industry has seen a lot of turmoil, confusion and change," McIlnay says. "We are simplifying the process to make it easier for our customers to do business with us on several levels."
A key point in this process is the fact that no matter what product a customer orders -- Levolor, LouverDrape, Del Mar or Joanna -- the customer only needs to contact one salesperson, one customer service representative and receives only one invoice, McIlnay explains. To make this process work, Levolor Home Fashions had to upgrade its equipment at the High Point headquarters. "We invested a lot in systems," McIlnay says. Basic product knowledge has been input into the ordering and customer service system, he says.
This fall, the company is planning a second big step toward simplification. It is called Custom Express. McIlnay explains that it is a Windows-based electronic ordering system that will link a retailer's personal computer or laptop with the company's internal information system. Custom Express will be an on-line process for retailers to configure custom treatments, quote prices and order. "The system will eliminate steps in the fulfillment chain, which will mean lower costs and increased accuracy," McIlnay says.
For the near future, "I see the company placing a lot of focus on service and simplification of the process of doing business," McIlnay says. "Faster, simpler ordering means more satisfaction in the whole delivery process," he says."I'm very excited about the future of this company," he adds.