Growing In Strength
D&WC: Tell us about your
company; what best describes your niche in the marketplace?
Chris Williamson, President:
Our niche is what we do. There are fabric jobbers, hardware distributors,
trim suppliers, lining suppliers and workroom supply distributors.
Customers of Williamson Supply Co. get all of this in one phone
call and the expertise in all of these areas, “One Source,
Our father, Bill Williamson, founded the business in September 1968
with myself as the only employee. Rick (Williamson, vice president,
marketing and sales) joined us in 1974. With expansion of product
and moving a couple of times, we are currently in a 15,000-square-foot
space in Houston, TX, and a 10,000-square-foot space in Dallas with
a total of 12 employees and one independent sales representative.
D&WC: Who are your customers?
What parts of the country do you service?
Williamson: Our customer
base includes those who are involved in the custom window coverings
industry: workrooms, installers, interior designers, fabric shops.
Initially we serviced Texas and Louisiana. Today, we have customers
in all 50 states, Mexico, Canada and overseas.
D&WC: What are some of
the key factors involved in your growth and success?
Williamson: Over the
years we have grown slowly but with strength. We increased inventory
on existing lines. We added product lines to our inventory for greater
service. Additionally, we listen to our customers about their needs
and try our best to fulfill them.
D&WC: What distinguishes
you from the competition?
Williamson: Our ability
to listen, our ability to change, our ability to respond quickly
to the needs of the industry along with almost four decades as a
strong and confident supplier.
D&WC: Is your business
computerized? Do you have a company Web site, and how is it used
to communicate with customers?
Williamson: We have
been on computer for inventory and accounts receivable for more
than 15 years. The server ties both warehouses together for better
service to our customers.
Our Web site has been up for about six years, www.williamson supply.com.
We show and offer information on the product lines as well as post
new product information. Customers can e-mail us from the site with
questions and orders. The site changes as necessary and future plans
involve on-line ordering.
D&WC: What window coverings
products did you handle initially? What products do you handle today?
Williamson: In the
beginning we sold basic workroom supplies, linings and some drapery
hardware. We began to add fabric to the product line in 1973. Today
we distribute major hardware lines such as Kirsch, Graber, Paris
Texas, Western Wood Products, Select and Canadian Drapery Hardware.
We have continued to expand our initial products adding much more
to our fabric line, distributing three major motorized hardware
lines—Makita, BTX and SM Automatic—and have grown to
one of the largest distributors for drapery hardware and workroom
supplies to the industry.
D&WC: How has your segment
of the industry changed since you first began?
Williamson: The sophistication
of design, product offerings, and customer knowledge has changed
tremendously in the last 38 years. As we started, fabrics were basically
48-inch, antique satin, sheers, printed satins with some 54-inch
widths available. Now minimum width is 54 inches in all fabrics
with silk being the king.
In 1968, decorative metal hardware was just beginning, wood poles
and parts were plain and motorization was for large commercial jobs.
Today’s market offers resin finials and wood poles in any
color imagined. Metal decorative hardware has improved in styling
and color. Wrought iron 12 years ago was hard to find, now it is
abundant with up-to-date colors, style and good price points.
Motorization has become simplified and affordable. This segment
of the industry is perhaps the fastest growing due to public acceptance
of the electronic age.
Williamson Supply Co. Inc.
Houston, TX 77081
fax: (713) 661-9054