Made in the Shade
D&WC: Please give a detailed
description of your company and its history.
Joel Berman, CEO: MechoShade®
Systems, Inc. evolved from Homecraft Drapery and Upholstery founded
in 1932 by Meyer (Jack) Berman. The firm manufactured custom upholstery,
drapery and window treatments for the high-end residential market.
I joined the firm in 1962 after having studied architecture at Pratt
Institute and having worked as a sales manager in the lighting industry.
That same year, Homecraft redirected its marketing efforts away
from the residential market to focus on the contract commercial
market servicing architects, designers and corporate clients. To
serve these markets a new company was formed, The Homecraft Drapery
& Upholstery Corp. and, subsequently, StretchWall Products Co.
We designed and developed a tackless stretched fabric wall covering
system for display and acoustics. To this day, the StretchWall system
is used extensively in corporate offices, theaters, museums, training
and media areas.
The other major component of Homecraft’s sales was window coverings,
which resulted in the invention and subsequent patenting of an energy
efficient roller shade system of hardware and shade screens engineered
to meet and compliment the heat flow and daylight transmission of
different types of glazing.
MechoShade Systems, Inc. started in 1969 with its first project
the Trust Company of Georgia in Atlanta. The contract commercial
window covering business, until that point in time, was dominated
by draperies, vertical blinds and Venetian blinds, which did not
meet the increasingly demanding commercial architectural and design
market requirements for aesthetics or functionality. MechoShade
developed a system of mechanical, manually driven and motorized
roller shades utilizing specially designed washable flame retardant
sunscreen fabrics. Each job or application was specially engineered
to provide the proper degree of sun screening depending on the type
of glass being used in the installation. The oil embargo of 1974
gave a strong impetus to the MechoShade program due to its improved
energy efficient performance when compared to the existing products
on the market.
MechoShade holds multiple product patents and proprietary fabric
designs, which it exclusively converts and distributes worldwide
under the trade names of ThermoVeil®, EuroVeil® and Soleil™
(offered to the consumer market through the MechoShade Home Shading
Division, Soleil) shade cloths.
In the summer of 1999, MechoShade launched its Home Shading Division,
Soleil Shading Systems, Inc., to introduce the patented roller shade
hardware and exclusive, residentially oriented shadecloth collections
to professional interior designers, architects and developers.
MechoShade is a totally vertical, single-source OEM designer and
manufacturer of its manual hardware system, electronic motor control
systems and ThermoVeil, EuroVeil and Soleil shadecloths. At the
present time all MechoShade products are manufactured in its New
York City facility and the new state-of-the-art plant in Phoenix,
AZ. The corporate headquarters are located in the New York facility.
We have approximately 300 employees.
D&WC: What products do
you handle today? What one product or line stands out above the
Berman: MechoShade manual and
ElectroShade motorized roller shades, StretchWall, Automated Skylight
Shades, AAC SolarTrac, ThermoVeil and EuroVeil shadecloths, audio/
video shadecloths, integrated systems for A/V, electric controls
and accessories for installation into ceilings.
For the contract and residential market the roller shade manual
or motorized for solar protection or blackout is still primary.
However, the market for Roman shades is a constant and panel track
is coming back slowly. Roller shades are the predominant product,
with increased interest in Roman Shades and SojiTrak™
D&WC: Are new products currently
Berman: Yes, our new Soleil
EasyUp™ battery-operated roller shades utilize IR (infrared)
technology, which eliminates all wiring and potential damage to
walls and ceilings. This is particularly convenient for out of reach
(clearstory) windows, as they can be adjusted via IR remote control.
An RF (radio frequency) battery-operated EasyUp roller shade system
will be available a little later this year, and offer the added
convenience of a programmable RF 24-hour automatic wall timer.
D&WC: Is your business computerized?
Do you have a company Web site, and how is it used to communicate
Berman: Yes, the company is computerized and this is
a never-ending program. MechoShade has two company Web sites, mechoshade.com
The MechoShade Web site has been updated recently to include online
order tracking and comprehensive tools to support our dealer network.
The Soleil Web site will be updated later this year and also will
offer online order tracking and support for both our Soleil Dealer
Network and our Home Automation Dealer Network.
D&WC: Who are your customers?
What parts of the country do you service?
Berman: Our customers are well-trained
dealers plus their customers: architects, interior designers, window
coverings professionals, developers and builders.
We service all of North America including Canada and Mexico, Central
and South America, Asia, the Maylay Peninsula (Thailand, Malaysia
and Singapore), Australia, the United Kingdom and parts of continental
Europe plus the Middle East including the United Arab Emirates.
D&WC: How has your segment
of the industry changed since you first began?
Berman: The roller screen has
moved from a decorative privacy product to an integrated subsystem
in building energy management. MechoShade has led the way since
1972 with automated integrated shading for buildings as part of
the energy management evolution.
D&WC: What best describes
your niche in the marketplace?
Berman: MechoShade is the only
vertically integrated roller shade manufacturer in the industry
developing its own patented shade hardware systems, electronic controls,
designing and converting our own exclusive shadecloth collections
and accessories that simplify and enable the use of our products.
D&WC: What are some of the key factors involved in
your growth and success?
Berman: A willingness to stay
on the cutting edge of innovation, substantial investment in R&D
plus continuous improvement of product hardware, shadecloth, electronic
controls and partnering with our dealers by offering one of the
best training programs in our industry to achieve the best end result
in often-challenging shading projects.
D&WC: What are your strengths
in the marketplace?
Berman: Capability and creativity.
A complete engineering staff is ready, willing and able to work
with our dealers and their clients to achieve and perform.
D&WC: What trends and cycles
do you see occurring in the industry?
Berman: There is increased interest
in energy conservation, motorization of window coverings plus personalized
controls for consumer market window treatments. MechoShade will
be motorizing all of its shading products and offering advanced
control solutions that will seamlessly integrate all of our shading
systems with all types of prestigious lifestyle technology conveniences
offered by today’s designers and builders—the goal is
to be Window Management ™.
D&WC: What distinguishes
you from the competition?
Berman: MechoShade and Soleil
Shading’s commitment to innovation and quality. Soleil and
MechoShade offer exclusive shadecloth fabrics like the 2003 award-winning
Faux Naturals™ Collection, which offers the elegant look of
woven woods, grass cloths, reeds and bamboo. Other shadecloth innovations
include 126-inch wide seamless sunscreen weaves for unobstructed
views and 100-inch wide PVC-free Equinox blackout fabric collection,
which is available in a broad assortment of colors and textured
stain resistant surface.
The company also features SnapLoc fascia, which requires no fasteners
or screws; SnapLoc shade bands, which can be easily removed and
re-attached to the SnapLoc shade tube for occasional cleaning; and
unparalleled manual and motorized elegant shading systems for any
Soleil has also recently launched an innovative factory preassembled
cassette shade option, which insures ideal shade alignment and dramatically
reduces dealer installation time.
MechoShade Systems Inc.
42-03 35th St.
Long Island City, NY 11101
fax: (718) 729-2941