D&WC: Please give a detailed description of your company and its history.
Viken Ohanesian:US Polymers (USP) was founded in 1983. By 1998 we were one of the largest vinyl vertical blind extruders in the country. We sold that division to the industry leader.
Today USP has three divisions: vinyl-clad wood shutters under the ShutterSmart brand name, vinyl storage sheds under the DuraMax brand, and vinyl piping systems under the Sunstop brand. We have three facilities in Los Angeles, CA, totaling more than 180,000 square feet, and our team is 127 associates strong.
In 1993, we introduced the award-winning vinyl-clad wood shutter system under the name Resiloy. We made a separate division for shutters in 1998 and launched the product nationally under the brand name ShutterSmart.
D&WC: What best describes your niche in the marketplace?
Ohanesian: Our niche is the shutter segment. It's a very demanding segment as shutters are the most challenging window covering available. Our goal is to be "The Shutter Professionals" every one can count on for instant expertise, reliable manufacturing and the absolute best in shutter quality.
How will we do this? We have a spectacular vinyl-clad wood shutter, our team has more than 28 years of shutter experience and we have all the resources to take on this challenge.
D&WC: What are your strengths in the marketplace?
Ohanesian: Our greatest strength is our exclusive product. ShutterSmart uses the vinyl-clad wood technology that is the absolute best shutter system available. The product is built with solid wood making for strong and light panels. It looks like a classic wood shutter, and it has all the advantages of a durable vinyl surface.
We have patented a tilt rod system that won't pull out like staples in wood shutters. We have patented the wood construction and the list of advantages goes on and on. Don't take my word for it, the Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) recognized ShutterSmart with the award for the most technically advanced shutter in the industry.
D&WC:What are some of the key factors involved in your growth and success?
Ohanesian: No matter how great a product you have, the key to success is systems and service. Let's talk about service: We service our customers as if our lives depended on it; and they do. We love to do things that are unheard of in the shutter industry like remake a miss-measured shutter from scratch in 72 hours or overnight a frame replacement to Florida with a two-hour notice. Our customers are gold. Period.
The other side of success is systems. If you are to grow your business, every last detail must be systematized. So we just obey the rules and systematize everything. From customer service to manufacturing to handling problems to training our associates, our goal is to get everything systematic, predictable and consistent every time. These are the key factors to our success.
D&WC: Who are your customers? What parts of the country do you service?
Ohanesian: ShutterSmart is a growing national brand. The product is aimed to reach homeowners nationwide through designers, blind retailers, shutter specialists, wholesalers and fabricators. We have a program designed for every link in the chain from manufacturer to designer.
We have fabricator, distributor and dealer partners in every state. Our full fabrication program offers regional manufacturing for larger fabricators. The panel express program offers panel fabrication for middle-sized wood shutter and retail fabricators.
And finally, we offer finished shutters to distributors and dealers nationwide. If you want a vinyl-clad wood shutter, we'll find the right program for you.
D&WC:What distinguishes you from the competition?
Ohanesian: In the last two years, more than five new non-wood shutter systems have entered the shutter segment of our industry. There are companies supplying fabrication systems, kit programs, finished shutters and who knows what else. Two things set us apart from the competition. The first is our expertise in reliable manufacturing systems. It's one thing to have a product, it's quite a different thing to produce and deliver it to the customer reliably, consistently and right—every time. And shutters are an expensive item to mess up.
The second advantage we have is our tried and proven shutter system. We have paid the price to learn all the dear lessons in product development that exist. It has taken us over 10 years to master and debug every aspect of our shutter system. Most of this we learned after the product was developed. It's very hard to imagine someone rolling out a brand new shutter system and having no major problems. Shutters are just too complicated. I'd be cautious.
D&WC: Do you educate your customers?
Ohanesian: We educate our customers all the time. We have a full house of experts available every day to all our customers. Our customer service team, our tech support expert, our sales consultant and our product engineer are always available to answer, teach and educate all our customers. We do this all day long—it's part of the job.
We also have training seminars, hands-on installation sessions with our installers, factory tours and various other types of training. These are all geared at educating and helping our customers grow with us. If a customer is new to shutters and has never touched them before, we can train him over the telephone without ever meeting face to face; it's that easy.
We are really in the midst of an exciting time for shutters. The category is booming, alternatives to wood shutters are getting popular and there's opportunity for everyone involved in window coverings. I am very happy we have this opportunity to add so much value to the industry and to really help all our customers grow and succeed.
6915 E. Slauson
Commerce, CA 90040
fax: (323) 727-6891