TRADE EDUCATION AND ENTHUSIASM NEEDED
I have just read Kitty Stein's article in the December 2000 issue of D&WC ("Designers and Workrooms" ) concerning the shortage of workrooms and young people not entering the window treatments industry. What an excellent article and a very important issue that should not be ignored to "take care of itself."
I own a flooring and decorating store in which we constantly deal with the lack of educated and responsible flooring mechanics along with the shortage of drapery workrooms. Young people today do not want to do physical work, and I honestly can't blame them. It is becoming more and more difficult to be self-employed, and the cost of being responsible for your own business insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, self-employment taxes, social security, etc. is more responsibility than most young people can handle.
I agree that we need more education and enthusiasm for the trades in the home decorating industry. We need the person who has good business sense, a learned or innate talent to offer the consumer and a genuine sense of pride in his or her work. This person has to be willing to go that extra mile because if he doesn't, that customer may not be his client for the next job.
With my window treatments I sometimes use my fabric vendor's workroom, but in most cases I rely on a workroom that is 45 minutes from my store. It does wonderful work and is extremely dependable. I have never asked for a "good deal" and willingly pay what I'm billed. But the workroom also sells retail and its owner is actually one of my competitors! This does not make me happy, but I couldn't imagine my window treatments business continuing without her because there are so few qualified people who do this work.
I had an absolutely wonderful woman (five minutes from my store) who I encouraged to go into the window treatment fabrication business. She enjoyed the work, the end result and the self-satisfaction. I encouraged her to raise her prices (which she did), but she still could not produce enough to make a living plus pay her own health insurance, taxes, etc. She had to give it up and go back to teaching, which she also enjoys. I miss her so much, but I understand her reasons for leaving the business. She is another example of not being able to be self-employed.
Recently I had a client become upset because a flooring mechanic could not follow her home and do a flooring measurement immediately. This led to a conversation on the lack of qualified people in the trades.
She had just recently moved into a new home that needed some attention from a plumber, an electrician and others. She was amazed at how she had to wait for everyone. I asked her when was the last time she saw any of these tradesmen under the age of 40. She looked at me sort of puzzled, so I repeated the question. She told me they had all been in their 40s and older. I told her if she was impatient with the waiting now, just wait another 10 years because there will be even fewer of them than there are today.
Where are the next two generations of painters, plumbers, electricians, flooring mechanics, window treatment fabricators coming from? How many men and women today are going to be willing to crawl into tight spaces to rewire a house, how many are willing to lift and reset a toilet, how many are willing to sit at a sewing machine eight hours a day or more when the need arises?
I wanted you to know how much we appreciate Stein's articles at our store and how much her recent one hit home. When you find a solution to the shortage of good, old-fashioned work ethic, please let us know.
Wall to Wall Home Decorating
Sturgeon Bay, WI
CHILD SAFETY A WORLDWIDE CONCERN
Over the past eight years I have read Sharon Anderson's articles in D&WC and have found them to be most informative.
I would like to thank you for reproducing her article on child safety on the Internet. (See "Do Your Part for Safety," D&WC, January 2001) I came across the article while trying to find information on this issue, which, in turn, linked me to the Window Coverings Safety Council Web site.
I was most impressed with the American blind industry's response to the issue. In the past 12 months we have had two deaths and one near death in the state of New South Wales, Australia, and it has become an issue for the blind industry in this country.
We made up mock cord attachments as described in the article to see how they would work. It appears that we may manufacture our Timber blinds differently than in the United States. We knot the lift cords together at the location shown in the drawings so the lift cords cannot be drawn through the cord lock if it is not engaged. We consider that the major problem in this country will be imported blinds, as they tend to have the problem described in the article.
Our company will be proposing to our authorities that all lift cords and rotation cords be a minimum length with non-removable child warning labels attached to the lift cords plus cleats be supplied to secure the lift cords when the blinds are raised. We will also propose that child safety information be supplied with each blind manufactured in Australia, that all imported blinds must be modified to meet the safety standards and that warning labels and child safety information must be supplied with each blind.
Our company has alerted our Australian Blind Association about your article and the location of the Window Coverings Safety Council Web site.
Once again, thank you for your concern and great information.
Blaxland, New South Wales, Australia