Probably not. Ten years ago the technology wasn't quite as sophisticated as it is today. In 1990 tubular motors had been around for a while and some fabricators were offering systems with lift and tilt functions for blinds, but motorized window treatments still were relegated to wood-paneled corporate boardrooms and the homes of the rich and famous.
Since then Baby Boomers have gotten 10 years older and their love of gadgetry has grown along with them. The terms "smart house" and "home automation system" have entered our vocabulary. More of us also telecommute from home offices. The Census Bureau reported less than five percent of Americans worked from home in 1990. Today that percentage is more than eight times higher just in our editorial/advertising office alone.
Twelve-volt motors and battery-operated systems have come along to make motorization less expensive in general and a realistic retrofit option for home owners. And today there are systems controlled by heat and light sensors, timers, remote controls, computer software and systems that use a home's AC wiring to control window treatments in multiple rooms.
Ten years ago Jim and Lyn Reed—the subjects of this month's cover story (page 28)—had an idea of what was to come. They'd be the first to tell you their business grew gradually around motorized systems, yet it was a conscious decision on their part to separate themselves from the ordinary. Lyn Reed developed and presented a half-day seminar in which motorization was a part. Only 10 or 11 people attended. Now they find devising the best design solutions for customers often involves technological solutions as well.
Much of the window coverings industry is subject to the whims of fashion. Those who are successful are those who are positioned to take advantage of the next growth market. The good news is it's not too late. There are few fashions with a 10-year history that remain as potentially promising as motorized window treatments.