Committed to Service
DWC: Please give a detailed description
of your company and its history.
Dennis Morgan, co-owner: Lafayette
Venetian Blind, Inc. (LVB) is a manufacturer and fabricator of custom
window treatments. We offer a comprehensive line of window fashions
and sell these products through a nation-wide network of retailers
and designers. In addition to being a full-line Hunter Douglas fabricator,
we also manufacture our own line of custom draperies, shutters and
alternative window treatments marketed under the brand name of Lafayette
Interior Fashions, and we distribute a broad line of drapery hardware,
trimmings and supplies.
The company was established in 1950 by Joe Morgan, my father. After
serving in the Marine Corps in World War II, Joe bought a partnership
interest in a small retail Venetian blind business in Lafayette,
IN. After a short time, Joe bought out his partner and changed the
company’s orientation from retail to wholesale fabrication.
Though the company was a very small, family business in the beginning,
Joe brought a strong work ethic to the enterprise and was totally
committed to serving his customers. Key elements in Joe’s business
philosophy were to turn around customer’s orders very quickly
and deliver the finished orders back to our dealers on our own trucks.
We still follow that business plan today.
LVB grew steadily—if not dramatically—throughout the ’50s,
’60s and ’70s. We had a growing base of customers in Indiana
and surrounding states. To our original Venetian blind product offering,
we added drapery hardware. The ’70s saw the introduction of
mini-blinds and a growing popularity of woven woods.
During the ’80s, the window treatment industry exploded. New
products were developed, refined and successfully marketed. Lafayette
had earned an excellent reputation among both suppliers and dealers,
and we were in an excellent position to take advantage of industry
growth. We expanded our product offering to include vertical blinds,
pleated shades and cellular shades to complement our horizontal
blinds, roller shades and woven woods.
In 1985, we opened a new office and production facility in Lafayette
to keep pace with dealer demand. In 1987, we opened our first regional
office in Harrisburg, PA, which allowed us to provide LVB delivery
and customer service to the northeast part of the country. In that
same year, we introduced our custom drapery line, which enabled
us to offer a complete range of custom window fashions—soft
treatments as well as alternative products—to our dealers.
In December 1989, after a decade of tremendous growth and accomplishment
for Lafayette Venetian Blind, Joe Morgan passed away. His philosophy
and work ethic continue to live at LVB. My brother Joe, sister Toni
and myself are actively involved in managing the business today.
And with the help of many capable associates, LVB has continued
to grow and flourish.
In 1992, we moved into a new, 250,000-square-foot office and production
facility in West Lafayette, IN, (and this year we expanded again
with an additional 48,000 square feet). This new production facility
gave us the room and production capability to introduce our own
brand of custom wood shutters and wood blinds.
In the ’90s, we opened regional offices in Alabama and California
and now have customers throughout the country. We are proud to have
long-standing, positive relationships with our suppliers, as well.
DWC: What window covering
products did you handle initially? What products do you handle today?
Morgan: We began manufacturing two-inch steel horizontal
blinds. Today, we are a full-line Hunter Douglas fabricator. We
also provide an extensive line of custom draperies, top treatments
and fabrics. In addition, we offer the Lafayette branded custom
shutters, wood and aluminum horizontal blinds, vertical blinds,
cellular shades, roller and Roman shades, woven woods, decorative
hardware, trimmings and accessories. We distribute Graber and Kirsch
drapery hardware and KS track.
DWC: Who are your customers?
What parts of the country do you serve?
Morgan: Our customers are independent window fashion
retailers, designers and decorators. We have customers in every
state and deliver weekly into 44 states on our own trucks.
DWC: How many sales people do you
Morgan: We have five regional sales managers and 46 territory
DWC: Is your business computerized?
Do you have a company Web site and how is it used to communicate
with your customers?
Morgan: We have been committed to using computer technology
for quite a while. In 1983, Lafayette developed a unique computerized
production and order entry system that enabled us to take orders,
produce and deliver finished products quickly and efficiently.
We equipped our territory managers with laptop computers in 1985.
Today, every aspect of our business is computerized, and nearly
every employee interacts with this technology. We track production
flow and quality throughout the process, and much of our internal
communication is computer- based.
We have had an active Web site since the mid ’90s (www.lafvb.com).
This site has a consumer-oriented side that provides extensive photo
galleries of our products and detailed product descriptions. We
also have a password-protected Dealer Center for our customers.
In this site, we offer a variety of business-to-business opportunities
including order entry, individual credit and shipping information
as well as the latest product and promotional information.
DWC: What are your strengths
in the market- place?
Morgan: Our strengths begin with our philosophy, our
people and our systems.
We are still committed to serving our customers, just as Joe Morgan
was in 1950. That customer service philosophy has many facets. It
includes having trained customer service agents on duty from 6 a.m.
until midnight—and half a day on Saturday. It includes our
Web site that offers dealers 24/7 access to product, delivery and
order entry information. It includes our next-truck delivery goal
of having products manufactured in Lafayette on the next weekly
delivery truck going to that dealer. And even orders that take a
bit longer to manufacture—such as custom wood shutters and
some soft treatments—will still be delivered faster than our
We are proud of our large network of territory managers who are
committed to making our dealers successful. And we are proud of
our marketing approach of Genuine Value retail pricing and net cost
pricing that provide our dealers with honest pricing and promotions.
DWC: Do you educate your customers?
Morgan: Dealer training is our No. 1 priority. Our territory
managers provide regular in-store training, local and regional seminars
and one-on-one product and business management training.
We also maintain the Lafayette Installation Training Center (LITC).
This 3,000-square-foot facility is designed specifically for hands-on
installation training. We offer regular shutter and soft fashion
installer training classes throughout the year. And we are able
to provide installation training on other products as needed.
Lafayette Venetian Bind, Inc.
P.O. Box 2838
West Lafayette, IN 47996-2838
Fax: (765) 423-2402