D&WC: Please give a detailed description of your company and its history.
MARCO BONILLA, DIVISION MANAGER: Superior
Window Coverings was started in 1979 with two people as a custom
workroom making draperies and Roman shades for local designers and
decorators. Later, we added custom wood shutters. In 2003 we formed
a subsidiary, Superior Roman Shades (SRS), and launched a national
wholesale program offering custom Roman shades.
Utilizing our 24 years of experience, SRS was able to offer a custom
product with a much faster turnaround. SRS was able to deliver a
product in two to three weeks that normally takes six to eight weeks.
SRS started by offering the four most popular styles, with 12 employees,
in a 4,600-square-foot facility and with 12 dealers.
SRS now offers more than 20 styles, employs 36 people in an 11,000-square-foot
facility, imports many of its own fabrics and has more than 500
This fall, we will introduce drapery, shutter, woven wood, wood
blinds and upholstery programs and will be moving into a new 20,000-square-foot
D&WC: Give a percentage
breakdown of these products. What one product or line stands out
above the rest?
Roman shades represent approximately 45 percent, with shutters,
draperies and wood blinds representing 15 percent each and wood
blinds and upholstery comprising five percent each.
D&WC: What is your
approximate sales volume? What was it after your first year in business?
BONILLA: Superior Roman
Shades grossed approximately $600,000 in its first year. Last yearís
sales volume quadrupled to $2.6 million.
D&WC: Is your business
computerized? Do you have a company Web site, and how is it used
to communicate with customers?
have a computerized order entry and production system. We also have
a company Web site that shows styles and retail pricing. We communicate
with many dealers via e-mail and will launch an online order entry
system in the near future.
D&WC: Who are your
customers? What parts of the country do you service?
BONILLA: Primarily we
serve decorators, designers and retail stores and drapery workrooms
throughout the United States. Because we introduced our program
in Baltimore in 2003, many of our clients are on the East Coast,
but we have been growing significantly in the West.
D&WC: What are some
of the key factors involved in your growth and success?
BONILLA: First, we have
a customer-orientated attitude. We view our relationships with our
dealers as a partnership. We invest a great deal of time in training
our staff so that we offer great customer service. We inculcate
in our team members that our main goal is the same as our dealerís:
to always try and satisfy their customers. Also, we treat every
dealer as our most valuable asset, regardless of whether they are
a one-person operation or a $100,000 account.
Finally, we are responsive and listen to our dealers. When a production
process or something else is not working to make a more satisfied
customer, we work to make changes or to find innovative solutions.
D&WC: What distinguishes
you from the competition?
our willingness to listen to our customers; our willingness to recognize
that we are always learning about the marketplace; and finally,
our flexibility and accessibility.
D&WC: What best
describes your niche in the marketplace?
BONILLA: Personal service,
competitive pricing and fast delivery. We try to take the extra
step to create a collaborative partnership between SRS and the designer
that opens communication and avoids problems for the end customer.
For instance, our customer care staff is trained to look at orders
for possible design issues such as alerting a customer that a turned
headboard is available for increased privacy if the shade appears
to be for a French door.
D&WC: How has your
segment of the industry changed since you first began?
BONILLA: A few years
ago, Roman shades were only available through local custom drapery
workrooms at high prices. High-end was the market for this product.
Since Superior Roman Shades began its Roman shade program directed
at the middle-high market, many other manufacturers have also begun
offering Roman shades, making the industry more competitive. This
is good because it gives more exposure to Roman shades and heightens
consumer awareness and provides more choices. The downside for the
consumer is that, unless educated, many think, based on price, that
they are comparing apples with apples in terms of quality because
many synthetic shades from large manufacturers are priced higher
than our natural fabric Roman shades. Unless they are educated about
how a traditional Roman shade is made, most are unaware of the extensive
labor, handwork and detail that originally made Romans a high-end
luxury treatment and which set them apart from machine manufactured
The Roman shade segment of the industry now consists of the middle
and high-end segments. We try to accommodate both segments by offering
two levels or programs: The first is our standard program offering
20-plus styles and numerous options with workroom quality and fast
turnaround. But we also offer a high-end designer level program
with specialties and extra details to accommodate designers servicing
a very high-end market. We still offer faster turnaround than local
workrooms and these jobs are priced on a quotation basis.
The biggest complaint we hear about our segment (and the industry
as a whole) is customer service. Most complaints are that customers
canít immediately reach a live person for an immediate answer
to a question or a solution to a problem. Other complaints are inflexibility
and long production times. In the industry as a whole, we see customer
service actually diminishing as companies attempt to trim overhead
by using automated phone systems and menus rather than live operators.
This frustrates many customers. We pride ourselves in being immediately
accessible to customers. You will always reach a knowledgeable,
live person that has an answer or that will promptly get an answer
We also are flexible. We make shades that large manufacturers and
other workrooms have refused to make because of size or complexity.
Sure, we may charge more for unique solutions, but from a clientís
perspective it is often preferable to pay a bit more and offer their
client a solution than coming back empty handed.
D&WC: Where do you
see yourself and your company five years from now?
BONILLA: We see ourselves
offering a full product lineóa one-stop workroom that offers
shades, draperies, upholstery, shutters and other hard treatments
that we manufacturer. But, although we are growing, we want to maintain
our intimate relationships so that we remain partners with our dealers
rather than just another vendor.
D&WC: What trends
and cycles do you see occurring in the industry? How is your business
BONILLA: We see a strong
future for Roman shades because it is still in the earlier stage
of its growth cycle. There is still a lot of opportunity available
for professionals to profitably sell this product.
We see the increased use of Roman shades and woven woods throughout
an entire home whereas before, they were usually found in only a
couple of rooms. We are seeing more draperies used as an overtreatment
with Romans. We also are seeing a trend towards more embellishment
of Romans with tassels, trims, bandings and different overlayers.
Of course, there is a huge trend towards motorization. SRS addresses
these trends by listening to our dealers and developing new designs
to meet consumer demand.
Superior Roman Shades
10701 Chandler Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
fax: (818) 762-3148