D&WC: Tell us about your company and its history.
DOUG JONES, PRESIDENT: Shutter Productions is a fully automated producer of custom wood shutters. We moved to our 26,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Phoenix, AZ, four years ago, to accommodate the growth we experienced when our initial automation efforts proved successful.
I’ve been in the shutter industry for 26 years, which pre-dates automation. When I began my career, fabrication was all done by hand and jigs. In 1989, with the help of three employees, I started my own shutter manufacturing/retail business: Scottsdale Shutters. The business grew rapidly and we went from a 5,000-square-foot rented facility to a 16,000-square-foot facility that we designed and built. It was there that we began to experiment with production automation.
After seeing what some automation could do for my throughput, I decided to complete the automation process. In 2003, we separated the business into two distinct companies: Scottsdale Shutters, Inc. became a sales and marketing entity with a retail showroom in northern Scottsdale, and Shutter Productions, LLC became our cutting-edge manufacturing business for supplying shutters wholesale to the trades.
D&WC: Who are your customers? What parts of the country do you service?
JONES: Shutter Productions services domestic shutter professionals, including dealers, retailers and other manufacturers, from coast to coast. Having the ability to supply shutters nationwide was a strong motivator behind moving to the larger, automated manufacturing facility. I recognized the consolidation trend in the industry and understood the importance for regional manufacturers to be able to effectively serve regional and national accounts.
D&WC: What role does computerization play in your business?
JONES: Computerization drives our business. You can build the greatest automated plant in the world but without a way for that to be directly linked to the dealer, its effectiveness is limited. Our entire facility is integrated with AMI™ shutter software, which provides the dealers with a direct connection to our shutter plant no matter where they are located. The AMI software makes it easy for our customers to design, price and download shutter orders directly to our manufacturing facility, via the Internet.
When a shutter order is processed, the AMI software generates step-by-step manufacturing instructions for each item. These instructions travel from station to station on project carts, plus appear on-screen at computerized cutting/drilling stations.
JONES: In our previous facilities, all we manufactured was a simplified line of basswood shutter products with limited frame, mount and finish options. With the automation and in-line finishing capabilities in our current plant, our product line has expanded dramatically to include all kinds of solid basswood shutters such as stained and textured products, arches, specialty shapes and designs. We also produce a premium line of Bamboo Breezes™ shutters made of solid bamboo.
Even with this expansion in our product offering, we realized dealers were using three or four different types of shutter products and that we weren’t their exclusive supplier. It became clear that the answer to dealers’ shutter needs revolves around having access to all the product lines they need for their clients.
That is why I recently organized Selections United™ Window Furnishings—a partnership of domestic manufacturers that collectively produce a full range of the best shutter products the industry has to offer. To date, six different shutter lines, from vinyl-clad to exotic hardwoods, are available through one software tool that allows dealers to instantly design, price, quote and order all of the Selections United products through a single point of contact. Interested dealers will be able to learn about Selections United at this year’s International Window Coverings Expo. Representatives from each product line will be in booth #830 to answer questions.
D&WC: What are some of the key factors involved in your growth and success?
JONES: We put the control in the dealers’ hands, which makes it very easy to do business with us. Whether they’re buying shutters from us through Selections United or Shutter Productions, the AMI software makes it simple for them to quickly and accurately order any shutter we can build.
Our automation cuts a lot of waste, time and overhead from the production process, making it cost-effective for small to medium manufacturers to outsource some or all of their shutter production to us. For these customers, we build the shutter and they finish it. Some of our larger accounts have eliminated their manufacturing entirely and buy finished product from us. This allows them to focus on design, sale and installation.
Our finishing times and techniques are superb. For stained products, we pre-stain all the individual components before cutting and assembly to achieve a true furniture-grade finish. The pre-finished and pre-texturized components we bring in through our key suppliers have eliminated much of our labor, and help us make our products faster at a higher measurable, repeatable quality.
D&WC: Where do you see your company five years from now?
JONES: I believe where we’re already headed is the future in our industry for the next five to 10 years. Shutter Productions is at the leading edge of change. If we weren’t doing what we’re doing right now with automation, single-sourced product lines and dealer tools, we’d have to change course.
Shutter Productions, LLC
4346 E. Elwood Street #106
Phoenix, AZ 85040
(602) 288-1122 · Fax: (602) 288-9404