D&WC: Please give a detailed description of your company and its history.
Jeff Ives: Palm Beacher Verticals, Inc. was opened in Florida in 1968 with annual sales that year of $160,000 of which 90 percent was custom draperies. Sales continued to increase during the '70s and '80s real estate boom years in Florida to an annual figure of $3 million. Because of the climate and the desire of most residents (mainly retirees) for products that are easy to care for, our product sales evolved to almost 90 percent vertical blinds. However, during the early '90s, along with the general U.S. economy, sales began to slump and dropped below $2 million. This drop in sales combined with the fact that vertical blinds at the time basically were a commodity that could just as easily have been sold by the pound for the amount of creativity they required, led us to develop Vertiscapes, which we introduced in 1993.
Vertiscapes are manufactured in our 40,000-square-foot facility. While national vertical sales have dropped by 30 percent, Vertiscapes brought our 1995 sales to more than $3.5 million.
D&WC: What window coverings products did you handle initially? What products do you handle today?
Ives: Initially, our workroom supplied the customary window treatments available at the time: draperies, custom top treatments, bedspreads, woven woods and horizontal treatments. Vertiscapes currently are manufactured in our production facility in West Palm Beach, FL, and we are constantly researching and developing new products to benefit our customers.
We also can manufacture and supply our customers with custom bedspreads from fabric available from our Verti-scapes line or with C.O.M.
D&WC: What one product or line stands out above the rest?
Ives: Our Vertiscapes vertical line stands out. As vertical blinds emerged as the window treatment of choice, they still were very basic, even with ever-increasing SKUs available in PVCs and vertical fabrics. We anticipated the public's desire and need for something with a little more flair than a plain vertical blind installed in an otherwise beautifully appointed home.
Vertiscapes combined the practicality and cost effectiveness of vertical blinds with the ambiance and traditional beauty of custom draperies. This effect was due to the development of our patented multi-edge groover, a product that enables vertical fabrics, drapery and upholstery fabrics and even wallpaper to be stacked in two, three or four layers to create individual designs and combinations to suit each customer's unique decor. Hundreds of combinations are possible.
Vertiscapes have grown more quickly in the window coverings industry than any other product we have handled. Sales are second only to PVC verticals.
D&WC: Is your business computerized?
Ives: Yes, our Photoscapes line is becoming very popular. We can take any image from logos on business cards to a customer's own photograph and scan it into a computer to produce high quality images that are made into decals and applied to our verticals.
Using our multi-edge groover gives depth to these decals and a look only this product can achieve. We have made decals of everything from endangered species to logos for national companies.
D&WC: Who are your customers? What parts of the country do you service?
Ives: We currently are marketing Vertiscapes nationally, as well as internationally, and our customers range from individual decorators to some of the largest dealers in the country. In a relatively short period of time, we have established a strong dealer base in the Southeast with many other dealers and fabricators throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. We feel these customers represent just the tip of the iceberg as far as the distribution of Vertiscapes is concerned, and we now are in the process of upgrading our production facilities to enable us to handle the numerous additional dealer requests we receive daily.
We feel the development of Vertiscapes has given our dealers the additional "edge" necessary to succeed against the ever-increasing competition from home improvement retail chains and enables them to create a unique product for each customer rather than just an "off the rack" vertical blind.
D&WC: How many salespeople do you employ?
Ives: Up to now, it hasn't been necessary to hire any salespeople. Seventy percent of our customers have come from the trade shows sponsored by Draperies & Window Coverings with the remainder coming through word-of-mouth advertising. Now that we have dealers in 30 states and have instituted a sampling kit, we have hundreds of "salespeople" all over the country.
D&WC: How has your segment of the industry changed since you first began?
Ives: As has happened with the office supply, automotive supply and pet store industries, the national super stores have begun to encroach on the sales volume of independent window treatment dealers. We started Vertiscapes to bring change to the industry. Verticals have not changed substantially since they were originally patented 100 years ago. There have been new colors, weaves, prints, etc. but a vertical still was just a track with a singular slat from each hanger - one color, no depth. We have changed that with Vertiscapes; now the practicality of verticals has been combined with the traditional beauty of draperies to create a unique product.
D&WC: Where do you see yourself and your company five years from now?
Ives: Our company continues to strive to anticipate the desires and needs of the window treatment consumer. To this end, we have many additional new products in development. The most exciting of the new items is the application of decals in combination with the Vertiscapes.
This product has been exceptionally well received for commercial applications as it combines the aforementioned benefits of Vertiscapes with the additional benefit of in-window advertising.
D&WC: What are some of the key factors involved in your growth and success?
Ives: We believe a key factor has been our ability to anticipate the public's desire for change. The consumer of the '90s has been very well educated and a multi-use product such as Vertiscapes fits perfectly in today's business climate.
In all of our years in business, we have never before experienced the level of satisfaction that we have had with Vertiscapes. This customer satisfaction seems to be because each customer is involved during the "hands-on" design process and each Vertiscape is an individual creation to suit the customer's unique decor. This step is where the fun of designing comes into play. We actually had a customer who loved her Vertiscape so much she took time to compose a charming poem and sent it to us along with a photograph of her finished window.
D&WC: What distinguishes you from the competition?
Ives: Our product sets us apart as well as our constant research and development of new products such as the Photoscapes and our newest product Shadowscapes. Shadowscapes (patent pending) is the only retro-fit system on the market that converts a stock vertical valance into a two- or three-tier shadowbox valance in less time and with less money than any other valance system.
We feel that the development of new products will maintain an active interest by the consumer in the window coverings industry. Perhaps this will encourage consumers to spend their extra dollars on window treatments to keep up with innovative products to improve their homes.
The computer industry, for instance, has constantly made improvements and innovations in its field and created its own supply and demand for personal computers. Had PCs remained nothing more than glorified calculators, sales would be only a minute fraction of what they are today. This is our goal within our industry - to create an interest by the consumer to want to purchase an innovative window treatment product.
Vertiscapes by Palm Beacher Manufacturer and distributor of the multi-edge groover for vertical blinds, Vertiscapes and Photoscapes vertical blinds and Shadowscapes valances.
Address : 6598 N. Military Tr. West Palm Beach, FL 33407
Phone : (800) 228-6598; (407) 842-3710
Fax: (407) 845-2067