D&WC: Please give a detailed description of your company and its history.
Michael Conforti Jr.: Suncoast Window Treatments, Inc. was founded in 1980 by my father, Michael Conforti Sr., president. With his strong work ethic and innovative mind, Suncoast Window Treatments and International Wood Shutters have grown and now employ 225 workers and occupy 80,000 square feet compared to when he started the company in 1980 with six employees and 4,000 square feet.
D&WC: What window coverings products did you handle initially? What products do you handle today?
Conforti: In the beginning Suncoast manufactured vertical blinds and distributed mini-blinds. Today, Suncoast manufactures and distributes a full line of window treatments: vertical blinds, mini-blinds, cellular shades, two-inch wood blinds (basswood and ramin) two-inch and 2 1/2-inch Imagewood (which is foam PVC), two-inch curved vinyl blinds, VertASheers, Viennas and Final Touch[TM] Arches (patent pending).
In 1985 my father and mother, Roseanne, opened a new company called International Wood Shutters. With my father's expertise in wood working, wood shutters were the next opportunity in the window coverings industry. This venture paid off and now International Wood Shutters is a fast growing part of our family business.
International Wood Shutters offers a full line of painted and stained basswood shutters with quality compared to none. They also offer a polysatin PVC shutter in two colors, white and almond. Because International Wood Shutters is a mill, we offer an unfinished panel program in any custom size that can be shipped in the United States in a two to three week time period.
D&WC: What one product or line stands out above the rest?
Conforti: Our two-inch wood product line stands out. It represents 74 percent of total sales. The reason it stands out is because at Suncoast we finish our wood in-house with nine paint lines. We can control our inventory and quality. This is unique in our industry.
Most manufacturers buy their wood already painted. We eliminate this step and paint or stain all our wood in our facility. The finish that we use is a waterborne paint that is environmentally safe and makes our finish a much harder and more durable product than our competitors'.
D&WC: Who are your customers? How many salespeople do you employ?
Conforti: Our customers are retail stores, decorators, designers and architects. We deliver or ship anywhere in the United States. Suncoast employs nine sales people.
D&WC: How has your segment of the industry changed since you first began?
Conforti: Our industry has changed in the diversification of products. Years ago vertical and aluminum mini-blinds were strong. Then came cellular and pleated shades. Currently, shutters and wood blinds have been dominant.
Service has also changed. Accounts now expect their products shipped on a quick delivery. Back in the 1980s, normal delivery was seven to 10 days. Now on some products we need to produce orders in three to five days. With today's technology in automation and new equipment we are able to accommodate these requests.
Service is a valuable tool in our industry as well as quality and price. We at Suncoast and International realize this and emphasize this, and try to delivery these important factors to our dealers.
D&WC: What best describes your niche in the marketplace?
Conforti: We are a family business. We know as owners that our business is run by people who really care. My father and mother, my two brothers, Steven and Scott, and I have been involved in every aspect of the business—from manufacturing, sales and purchasing to installing of products.
My father instilled a strong work ethic in all of us and taught us to always treat people the way they would want to be treated and to always try to be innovative and a leader in business—always try to improve service and quality and don't ever take your customers for granted.
D&WC: What are some of the key factors involved in your growth and success?
Conforti: Our niche in the marketplace is my father's ability to bring out new products. Our latest product is a patent-pending line called The Final Touch Arch treatment. My father uses it in his shutter factory for a moveable, horizontal PVC shutter arch. The Final Touch Arch can accommodate any arch top window whether it is a perfect arch, eyebrow or a straight side eyebrow arch. Even octagons and portals.
The Final Touch is used by Suncoast for multiple product lines. You can incorporate the Final Touch product with wood blinds, Imagewood blinds, cellular and pleated shades and drapery fabric. This product is an installers' dream for its ease of installation and its ability to make any arch opening look finished and complete.
D&WC: What distinguishes you from the competition?
Conforti: What separates Suncoast from the rest of the industry is our ability to change according to the demand of the market. As the needs of our dealers change, Suncoast is able to change with them and provide the products they need.
SUNCOAST WINDOW TREATMENTS, INC.
14105 McCormick Dr.
Tampa, FL 33626
Fax: (813) 854-1761