Growth By Design
D&WC: Please give a detailed
description of your company and its history.
Ed Caplan, National Sales Manager:
Century Window Fashion Inc. has been in the window coverings business
for more than 10 years. The company’s origins were as a distributor
of PVC slat material and components for vertical blind fabrication
to retailers in the New York metropolitan area.
The timing was right for the window covering market’s growth
and Century grew along with it. Not being satisfied with just a
successful distribution business, the company invested in fabrication
equipment and became a full-line fabricator of window coverings
as well. The increase in product lines allowed the company to invest
in the machinery and technology to weave and fabricate woven wood
shades. The explosion of woven woods has enabled the company to
grow to more than 300 employees around the world with over 100,000-square-feet
of manufacturing facilities in the United States, China and Europe.
D&WC: What window coverings
products did you handle initially? What products do you handle toady?
Caplan: At first, we distributed
PVC and vertical blinds components. Then we fabricated one-inch
mini-blinds, two-inch horizontal blinds with different material,
and vertical blinds.
As the trend in the market changed, we accumulated experience in
fabricating shades and blinds. We then started to manufacture woven
wood shades and fabricate honeycomb and Vienna shades. With more
than 10 years of experience, we have learned how to manage the life
cycles of different products and how to market products in this
quite competitive industry.
D&WC: Give a percentage breakdown
of these products. What one product or line stands out above the
Caplan: The majority of our
business is from woven wood shades, which is over 50 percent of
our business volume. The other products we have are 0.5-inch and
one-inch mini-blinds, two-inch PVC, real wood, fake wood, plantation
and aluminum horizontal blinds, honeycomb shades and Vienna shades.
We are planning to fabricate roller shades for the coming year.
D&WC: What is your approximate
sales volume? What was it after your first year in business?
Caplan: With the continual expansion
of woven woods globally the company has grown in annual volume to
over $6 million per year. This is quite a huge difference from when
the company first started as a local distributor.
D&WC: Is your business computerized?
Do you have a company Web site, and how is it used to communicate
Caplan: Our company is computerized
and we continue to update our computer system. We also have an EDI
ordering system on our Web site where customers can place their
orders online. Customers also can place their orders by fax or telephone.
On our Web site—www.centurywindow fashion.com—we show
every single woven wood pattern we have, and customers can easily
find the right pattern and right color for their window coverings.
D&WC: Who are your customers?
What parts of the country do you service?
Caplan: We mainly sell our products
to distributors throughout the United States and Canada. Right now,
we are still looking for distributors in some West Coast and Midwest
We are trying to establish a complete distribution channel by cooperating
with our distributors. At the same time, we also have international
customers in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, China and South
America. Our company brand has been established very well in the
D&WC: How many salespeople do
Caplan: Century Window Fashion
has an international sales force consisting of a VP of sales to
coordinate worldwide sales and a sales team with representation
in the United States, Europe, Far East, South America and the Pacific
D&WC: Do you work through distributors
or sell direct to the retailer?
Caplan: We work through distributors
and sell direct to retailers in our tri-state area. We always appreciate
the opportunity to do business with our distributors because we
cannot complete our distribution channel of nationwide marketing
We depend on them and they trust our company as well as our products.
Some distributors have had long-term relationships with us for more
than five years. Some of them just started to develop the distributorships
within the past few years.
D&WC: How has your segment of
the industry changed since you first began?
Caplan: In the beginning, we
distributed PVC, then fabricated one-inch mini-blinds and verticals.
Today, we weave the roll goods in China and fabricate woven wood
shades here in the United States. Woven woods have become a fast
growing product in the last three years. We are continuing to add
new patterns as well as new products to our line.
D&WC: What best describes your
niche in the marketplace?
Caplan: Our niche in the marketplace
is that we are a professional woven wood manufacturer who can design
patterns, weave fabrics, fabricate shades and distribute products.
We think we have the expertise to make good quality woven woods
correctly for customers because we have much more manufacturing
experience than our competitors.
D&WC: What are some of the key
factors involved in your growth and success?
Caplan: The ability to hire
the right personnel who can help the company grow around the world.
Good employees are always the most important asset for a successful
company. Employees are the key to keeping a company moving well
and efficiently. Without good employees, a company cannot function
D&WC: What are your strengths
in the marketplace?
Caplan: Woven wood products
and patterns continue to grow and expand. We will do the same. We
always do our best to match the demands of customers and follow
the changes in the window coverings market. For example, we created
fabric valances to satisfy some high-end customers who want their
woven woods with a different look. We got very good responses about
this fabric valances from trade shows.
D&WC: Where do you see yourself
and your company five years from now? Are there additional areas
within the industry that you would like to get involved in?
Caplan: We foresee the company
will continue to grow year by year and will concentrate on our main
business: window coverings. We expect ourselves to be a professional
window fashions company that can provide customers with a variety
of products and services.
Besides improving product and service, we will be expanding to Europe
and South America as well as looking for the opportunity to grow
in other parts of the world. We hope we can globalize our company
to decrease our manufacturing costs by taking advantage of economy
D&WC: What advice would you
give to other window coverings professionals?
Caplan: How to manage different
product life cycles and how to make products unique are always the
main issues in this industry. The company that can satisfy the most
demands of customers will be the final winner in this industry.
But how to find and understand what customers need is always the
issue for window covering business.
D&WC: What trends and
cycles do you see occurring in the industry? How is your business
Caplan: The business of vertical
blinds is diminishing, honeycomb and Vienna shades are flat and
woven woods are growing. We tried to run different marketing strategies
to deal with those situations. Different products have different
life cycles. We have to market a product properly at different stages
of its life cycle. Good marketing strategies always bring more business
or avoid unnecessary costs for a company.
D&WC: What distinguishes you
from the competition?
Caplan: Our woven wood selection is one of the largest
and best collections in the industry today. Quality is our No. 1
objective. For us, how to satisfy the customers’ demands is
the biggest challenge. We always stimulate ourselves to design new
patterns and improve our quality in order to obtain competitive
D&WC: Do you educate your customers?
Caplan: We usually invite our
distributors to come to our New York facility to understand our
operation and to learn how to make woven wood shades. We also visit
our distributors for hands-on product seminars.
Communication is the bridge between customers and a company. Good
communication contributes to winning customers’ trust and developing
a long-term relationship with customers. Bad communication always
triggers negative things for a company and hurts its reputation.
Century Window Fashion Inc.
6020 59th Place
Maspeth, NY, 11378
Fax: (718) 418-0951