Tom Marusak: Comfortex Window Fashions was incorporated in 1986 with the help of others including John Schnebly, one of the original developers of Duette® and now president of Decotex 2000. Since then the company has transcended its early product development phase and wholesale fabrication phase to become a leading producer of window treatment products with distribution in 15 countries. Comfortex originally developed the Smart Shade solar motorized skylight shade system, which it continues to manufacture for Hunter Douglas.
The company has grown from two employees in an aging warehouse to more than 250 employees in three manufacturing sites including it headquarters in Watervliet, NY; its Melbourne, FL, facility; and its Sparks, NV, facility. Comfortex manufactures and distributes its own patented and proprietary products which are marketed under trademarks employing music as its central and unifying theme. The company's premier products include Symphony® double honeycomb shades, Perfect Pitch® nested cell pleated shades, Solo® single honeycomb shades and Woodwinds® wood alloy blinds.
During its last five years, Comfortex pioneered a brand name retail fabrication distribution channel under its Composer program. The Composer program provides turn-key fabrication support, service and product to leading retailers in major metropolitan markets throughout the United States and Canada. This program includes more than 300 licensed retail owners, representing more than 2,500 retail locations.
Comfortex is building upon the foundation it established during its first 10 years by remaining faithful to its mission which is "to develop partnerships with each of our customers, and to conduct our business affairs in a manner by which we will be recognized by them as a total quality leader, producer and supplier to the window treatment industry through the development, production, distribution and service of innovative, proprietary and new products."
D&WC: What window coverings products did you handle initially? What products do you handle today?
Marusak: During its early development phase, Comfortex operated as a licensed wholesale fabricator of Hunter Douglas, fabricating Duette shade products. Additionally, Comfortex developed a number of proprietary products using honeycomb fabric. Specifically, we developed the motorized Duette Smart Shade systems and the Sunset and Starburst movable arch-top shades.
In 1992, Comfortex completed the development of its own proprietary double honeycomb product and introduced the Symphony line of window covering products, including Perfect Pitch pleated cellular shades, Solo single honeycomb shades, Woodwinds wood alloy blinds and Softline® horizontal aluminum blinds.
D&WC: What one product or line stands out above the rest?
Marusak: Since its introduction in 1992, the Symphony double honeycomb line has dominated the company's sales, increasing total revenues by a factor of five during the past four years. Comfortex's other trademark products were introduced at the end of 1995 and early 1996. They quickly are increasing the company's sales and becoming important product additions.
Based on early market acceptance, the company views Woodwinds as its most important new product introduction, which likely will double the company's sales over the next two years.
D&WC: What is your approximate sales volume? What was it after your first year in business?
Marusak: During its first year of business, Comfortex's sales approached $150,000. This year, the company expects to exceed $25 million in total revenue.
D&WC: Is your business computerized?
Marusak: Comfortex has made significant investments in computer systems, including both hardware and software. We operate on a customized business software package developed for us by PIC Business Systems, Inc. using a UNIX platform. Additionally, the company uses a local area network (LAN), which links more than 50 PIC units to the central server.
All field sales representatives are linked to the company's e-mail and sales databases, as are each of Comfortex's satellite facilities. The manufacturing and inventory facilities are fully equipped with bar codes to ensure quality and accuracy.
This fall, Comfortex is introducing the Conductor software package for retail fabricators. This PC-based package is designed to operate with a Windows operating system. It will simplify and expedite retail fabrication and sales database management for independently owned retail stores.
D&WC: How has the custom window treatment industry changed since 1986?
Marusak: The industry has consolidated significantly. The number of wholesale fabricators has shrunk to less than a fifth of what it was 10 years ago, as has the number of primary manufacturers. The number of retail fabricators has grown exponentially.
The industry has become much more sophisticated and professional. Customers expect and demand much more timely delivery, higher quality and greater innovation and variety than they did in 1986.
D&WC: Where do you see your company five years from now?
Marusak: Through product and marketing innovations now in the works, and further development of the Composer retail fabricator program, we expect to establish a significant worldwide recognition for the Comfortex brand name as being synonymous with high quality and innovation.
D&WC: What are some of the key factors involved in your growth?
Marusak: Comfortex is filled with young, energetic entrepreneurial people who increase the company's forward momentum and determination. Part of our mission statement is to provide a work environment which enables each employee to realize the fullness of his or her creative and professional potential.
As a company, our operating principles are simple: Always be ethical, and use common sense. Our management structure is designed to provide constant examples of this philosophy, which has been the key factor influencing our success and our growth.
D&WC: What are your strengths in the marketplace?
Marusak: Our objective is to establish partnership relations with all of our customers, and to conduct ourselves in a manner by which our customers perceive us to be their partners.
Just the other day, we received a bouquet of flowers and a basket of cookies from a customer named Decor Home Fashions. When we called to inquire why the flowers and cookies were sent, we were told that the customer knew how small an account she must be relative to other Comfortex customers. Yet, she explained that whenever she calls, we make her feel as if she is the most important customer that we have.
This is a good example of how we constantly strive to address our mission of partnering with all our customers, whether large or small. It is one of Comfortex's key strengths in the market.
D&WC: What trends and cycles do you see occurring in the industry?
Marusak: Product life cycles are taking their due courses. New products and innovation are becoming more important each day. Focused, target marketing is the key to increasing market share. Comfortex is constantly pursuing these needs with investments in new product development and new marketing programs.
This fall, we are introducing a national television advertising campaign in each of our key account markets. The ad focuses on the benefits of retail fabrication for consumers, and we expect it to be the start of a long-term campaign addressing focused marketing needs in specific market places.
D&WC: What distinguishes you from the competition?
Marusak: Most of our competition tries to be all things to all customers. At Comfortex, we strive to establish special, well-defined relationships with a select group of customers. We take our partnering goals seriously, and recognize that we can't really be partners with thousands of customers. So we limit our focus to those accounts with whom we can grow profitably together.
21 Elm St.
Watervliet, NY 12189
Fax: (518) 233-1682
Manufacturer and distributor of patented an proprietary window coverings products including double honeycomb cellular shades, shades for skylights, nested cell shades and wood alloy and horizontal blinds.