Last year, Sunland Shutters, Long Beach, CA, restructured its management level. The move followed the involvement of Johnny Hsieh who became the company’s COO late in 2006.
Some of the changes included naming Edward Mitcher vice president of sales and, more recently, the opening of a new service center facility, which Mitcher says will increase the company’s efforts in serving its dealer base. “Sunland’s business model has always focused on offering a high level of local service and support for our dealer base,” Mitcher says. “Along with its sales expansion efforts, Sunland will continue to establish new local service facilities in every major shutter market in the United States. We aim to offer complete repair capabilities and full turnkey installation programs at all of our new service centers.”
In the following Q & A, Mitcher explains why he joined Sunland Shutters and where he sees the company heading.
D&WC: Why did you decide to join Sunland Shutters? How do you hope to contribute to its growth and success?
Ed Mitcher: I decided to take the position of vice president of sales with Sunland Shutters for a unique opportunity to help grow a company with solid financial backing, national distribution capabilities and, most importantly, a dedicated group of people that has an incessant focus on building the best shutter company in the industry by providing consistent product quality, delivery lead times and customer service. I have worked with many other companies that claim these as their goals, but not many have lived up to their marketing.
Having worked in the shutter industry for 14 years, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to meet many influential movers and shakers in the industry and count them as my personal friends. With my extensive contacts on a national level, my reputation as a person of integrity and Sunland’s commitment to being a good employer and a good business partner, I believe I can help position the company for aggressive growth despite a weak housing market.
D&WC: Since assuming the position of vice president of sales, what areas of the company have received your primary attention?
Mitcher: You might be aware that Sunland underwent a complete management restructuring in 2007. Johnny Hsieh, a former Wall Street investment banker, started with Sunland in late 2006 as the new COO. Over the course of 18 months, he aggressively improved Sunland’s extrusion, fabrication and distribution capabilities by stressing the importance of strict quality control and consistency in delivery lead time. He also initiated new marketing programs that included the introduction of Sunland’s new Web site, new trade show efforts and new advertising and sampling program. Most importantly, he successfully built an experienced executive management support team by actively recruiting top industry veterans to advise him on sales strategy. This is where I came in.
As the vice president of sales, my primary focus thus far has been to expand Sunland’s distribution capabilities nationwide. With arguably the best synthetic and wood shutter lines on the market in terms of product build and finish quality, Sunland should have no trouble succeeding in any market place considering that our shutters are also one of the most affordable.
D&WC: What do you perceive as Sunland Shutters’ strengths in the marketplace?
Mitcher: Sunland is unique in the shutter industry and has numerous strengths. First of all, the company is vertically integrated and this allows Sunland to control quality consistency throughout the entire value chain from component extrusion all the way down to product installation—all of which is controlled by in-house personnel.
Secondly, Sunland is part of a diversified conglomerate with superb financial strengths and international capabilities in manufacturing, capital raising and distribution. With access to global resources, Sunland is unique in that it has both domestic and international fabrication and repair facilities for all of its product lines. This allows Sunland to service any dealer needs by being able to provide delivery in as fast as seven to 14 working days nationwide though it’s Express Program (service available for both Polycore and Lexwood shutters).
Lastly, Sunland is one of the few national vendors that actually set up the necessary infrastructure to provide the level of service that most dealers are used to receiving from local fabricators and distributors. For example, Sunland is the only national shutter supplier that provides a full in-house turnkey installation program in all major regions that it distributes to.
D&WC: What are your goals for Sunland Shutters? Where do you see the company one year from now? Five years from now?
Mitcher: Not be cliché, but the sky is the limit for Sunland. The management team at Sunland actually believes that this market downturn is a great opportunity for the company to grow aggressively by winning market share from weaker fabricators and distributors.
The market weakness is also allowing us to attract top talent from competitors due to our financial strength, and we plan to focus on building a top-caliber sales team and on expanding our distribution reach over the next 12 months. Five years from now, we fully expect Sunland to be the top shutter vendor in the United States.
D&WC: Please provide a general description of Sunland Shutters’ product lines and services. How much of sales is residential versus commercial?
Mitcher: Sunland offers a complete line that includes the industry’s best synthetic shutters with our Polycore line and a very high quality 100 percent basswood shutter with our Lexwood lines. Both lines offer the largest selection of specialty shape options in the industry and incorporate unique product features that allow our dealers to differentiate their offerings to command higher selling prices and larger margins.
Our Polycore line is an aluminum-reinforced synthetic shutter that is able to cover an industry-leading span up to 36 inches wide and 96 inches long in one panel with no divider rail.
Our 100 percent basswood Lexwood shutter line offers an industry leading number of color choices including 20 whites, 20 stains and 720 Designer Series colors. All of our shutters feature a highly durable water-based paint finish that contains ultra-low VOCs and absolutely no lead.
Sunland’s past and current focus has always been on the residential sector. Although we have successfully engaged in numerous commercial projects, most of our commercial sales are developed through our existing dealer network.
D&WC: Please tell us a little about yourself. What is your background and experience? In what area does your expertise lie, i.e., marketing, management, operations?
Mitcher: I have been involved with the shutter industry in one form or another for 14 years. I recognized the importance of shutters to the window covering industry many years ago prior to their rise in popularity. My more notable achievements include starting national installation programs and helping to develop and launch leading shutter lines for the largest window covering companies in the United States.
Despite my experience with leading installation and fabrication programs, my extensive contacts and strong personality always lead me back to my core strength in sales. My work ethics and integrity allows me to lead by example, and I plan to use my strengths to build the industry’s most effective sales force at Sunland.