Window View - April 2013

Trending Up
By Wanda Jankowski

Alternative window, motorization and decorative hardware suppliers report an upward trend for 2013 in business across the board

There is cause for celebration at the Vision13:International Window Coverings Expo, which takes place in New Orleans from April 19 to 21, 2013. As reported here by leading suppliers of alternative window coverings, motorization options and decorative hardware, some of which are exhibiting at Vision13, business is trending upward as consumer confidence stabilizes.

“Business at Hunter Douglas began to improve late last Spring and maintained itself through the end of the year. We had a very, very good year,” says Jim Mathews, senior vice-president of marketing for Hunter Douglas.

“What’s happening now with consumers is a confluence of a lot of elements: people are feeling more secure, employment is up, interest rates are low, people are refinancing,” he explains. “Consumer confidence has renewed. The housing market is rebounding. It has a positive impact; people are moving ahead and making decisions. Our customers are ready to start making home investments again and to consider our brand.”

Mathews believes that the rebates offered by Hunter Douglas have helped draw in consumers, along with the reinstatement of the Federal Tax Credit for energy-efficient products, which applies to Hunter Douglas Duette Architella shades.

Denise Schenck, marketing manager, Lafayette Interior Fashions, also notes her company’s growing success. “It appears that consumer confidence, a better financial climate and a surge of homegrown innovation is boosting U.S. manufacturing,” she says. “Made in the USA is definitely catching on and becoming more important to folks.”

Thomas Marusak, president, Comfortex, confirms his company’s upward revenue increases in 2012 over 2011. “We see that trend continuing in 2013. We see growth in both the Internet Retail Channel as well as the brick-and-mortar retail channel (mostly in Shop at Home),” he adds.

Phifer’s 2013 sales growth, according to Bill Strickland, national market manager, Sun Control Products for Phifer, is attributable to the growth of the economy as well as “unique products within the [Phifer] range.”

“Shading solutions are a growing part of Lutron’s overall business,” says Ed Blair, vice-president and general manager, Commercial Systems Business, Lutron. “I think the popularity is due in part to the realization that automated window treatments can benefit a space by saving energy, regulating temperature and preventing sun damage to furniture, artwork and flooring.

“We significantly expanded the market with the addition of our Serena battery-powered shades, which are priced from $279,” Blair continues. “This product makes automated shading available to a whole new level of end-users who realize that it’s not a luxury, but rather a necessity for hard-to-reach windows, ensuring privacy and preventing sun glare.”

Deirdre Brower, product marketing manager, Interior Residential & Internet, Somfy Systems, Inc., believes the company’s marketing efforts in increasing awareness of motorization have played a role in its 2013 growth.

“Additionally, we recently launched our new Somfy Expert 2.0 program which provides training opportunities and a wide array of marketing tools and benefits to those that make Somfy motorization part of their business,”

Brower says. “We feel that interior window covering motorization will continue to be a high growth business.”
Decorative hardware suppliers are experiencing the same upswing seen in other categories.

According to Sunil Patel, ceo, Orion Ornamental Iron, “Revenue in 2012 has been up 20 percent over the previous year. There was a pent-up demand for products, which we came to realize in 2012. In addition to this, we have always focused on new product sales.”\

For Alhambra Hardware Company Inc., 2012 was a year of consolidation. “Cost saving initiatives undertaken since the downturn began in 2009 are well established and bearing fruit,” explains Bernard Snitman, managing director of Alhambra. “This has resulted in stabilized earnings and a smoother running operation. Sales were in line with projections. After months of ‘roller-coaster’ sales, we are seeing a small growth trend. I think this is due to the U.S. economy and the housing market in particular finally shaking off the trauma of the downturn.”

Steven Shelly, sales director, Classical Elements, is seeing orders up over last year. “Our new decorative trimmings and hardware collections are receiving tremendous responses from our customers leading this growth,” says Shelly. “In addition, the stability and growth within the housing market should benefit our entire industry. The one question mark is Congress and how its decisions will affect the economy and growth throughout 2013.”

New Product Directions

In addition to the new products shown, window suppliers are also introducing a variety of other innovative resources to capitalize on consumers’ renewed interest in alternative window and hardware options.

According to Orion’s Patel, “We are working to improve the functionality of our existing products through product updates. We intend to expand our current lines and introduce a new wood finial line in 2013.”
Alhambra is looking to introduce new marketing initiatives and finishes in 2013.

Somfy Systems stresses easy operation and energy efficiency in its new offerings. Its Solar Pack WireFree™ provides a solar-powered power source for WireFree™ motorized window coverings. “Not only does it offer a maintenance-free and ‘green’ power source, but it is also backed by Somfy’s five-year warranty, which exceeds the expected lifetime of any wireless battery-powered system on the market today,” says Brower.

At Lafayette, Schenck says, “With child safety concerns becoming top priority, we are working on more window coverings that feature cordless control and motorization.”

Lutron seeks to expand entries in the shade market. One new entry is Hyperion, an automated shading system that adjusts Lutron’s Sivoia® QS shades based on the sun’s position to maximize daylight entering the space, while reducing glare and heat gain.

Phifer is focusing on its sustainable SheerWeave lines, offering a version of the fabric infused with Microban antimicrobial protection that inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew. The company’s eco-friendly SheerWeave Infinity2 is a 100 percent recyclable, pvc- and lead-free shade fabric that offers sustainable interior sun control. Infinity2 is woven from the only core yarn born out of post-industrial waste by-product.

Phifer’s new GREENGUARD Select program meets requirements for voc and formaldehyde emissions.
Marusak reveals several strong product directions for 2013. “Comfortex has pioneered the ability to create custom designs and images on a wide variety of products, including: roller, Roman, cellular and pleated shades as well as panel tracks and Odysee cellular blinds,” he states. “We see very strong growth in these areas as well as in horizontal sheer shadings.”

Spring 2013 introductions for Hunter Douglas include two new fabrics for Premium Alustra™ Duette™ honeycomb shades. Architella™ Macron is a woven, textured sheer layered over a color-coordinated inner cell and Architella Myst™ features a metallic finish.

Applause® honeycomb shades with SimpleLift™ offer cordless operation and intuitive operation with an integrated bottom rail at an opening price point.

Casual Nantucket™ window shadings from Hunter Douglas has a new sample book with a refreshed offering. In addition, Cadence® Soft Vertical Blinds and Somner Custom Vertical Blinds Collection have added new styles and are combined into one sample device that creates a showcase for all Hunter Douglas vertical blinds.

Finally, the Hunter Douglas Pleated Shade Collection offers 18 new fabric collections in a smaller 20mm European pleat size.

Though the increased activity in the alternative window, motorization and decorative hardware sectors reflects continuing improvement in the economy, Mathews notes, “There are still problems. But the American psyche is robust. The current state of the stock market is reflective of that.”

Suppliers are poised to make the most of improving economic times.

Modern Spin On Traditional The Candlestick finial by Curtains Up® is part of a series of contemporary designs from Alhambra Hardware Co. available in mirror chrome, pewter and black finishes. The clean, simple lines are based on traditional shapes.
Wood Blinds Program New Parkland™ wood blinds from Hunter Douglas eliminate the need for dealers to select between two wood blind programs by providing one single program. The collection combines best-selling colors, brand new colors and designer upgrades.
Easy Draw The Unique Collection form Orion Ornamental Iron allows rods to be amply supported without compromising drapery operation. Bypass brackets allow the special “C” rings to traverse the full length of the rod to accommodate one-way or split draws. Suited for use as a single- or double-rod system, the rods are offered in 35 Iron Art and six Italian finishes, as well as in custom finishes.
Exclusive & Eco-Friendly Phifer is the only window coverings manufacturer to use Dow Ecolibrium™ Bio-Based Plasticizer in its fabrics. The plasticizer is made with 98 percent renewable feedstock and offers a phthalate-free alternative to shades made with traditional plasticizers. Shown is Phifer’s SheerWeave with Dow Ecolibrium.
Customized Switch Engraving DecoFlex WireFree™ RTS wall switch buttons (shown) from Somfy Systems, Inc. can be personalized through engraving up to nine characters for the top six buttons and five characters for the bottom two. Capitalization options also add to the customization. Custom engraving is offered as well with the DecoFlex WireFree™ RTS Tabletop Accessory that allows the traditional switch to be converted to a tabletop control.
Cordless Woven Shade The Manh Truc woven shade from Lafeyette Interior Fashions features the TLC with CareRING Cordless Control™ that eliminates dangling lift cords. Operation is easy: simply reach for the TLC CareRING hidden behind the back hem of the shade to raise and lower it. Also shown is one of Lafayette’s custom headboards in one of the new faux leather patterns recently added to the Select Masterpieces fabrics.
Energy Efficient Honeycomb A highlight of Hunter Douglas’ Duette® honeycomb shade collection, Architella® Trielle™ Elan® features five pockets of insulating air and provides light transmission similar to the original Architella shades with 20 percent more energy efficiency.
Always In Style Comfortex offers Linen Weave Light Filtering fabric from the Timeless Textures™ Collection in the heirloom color with cordless hardware.
New Twist On Shutters Uplifting Shutters from Comfortex feature louvers that can be raised for maximum view-through achieved by eliminating styles and rails. The look of Plantation Shutters exists without cumbersome swing panels.
Fashionable Fabrics The Lutron Coulisse Collection includes more than 700 types of high-fashion fabrics and materials for roller shades, honeycomb shades, innovative pleated fabrics and a variety of materials for Venetian blinds. The collection combines the functional, technological and innovative aspects of shading with design and style.
Mix & Match Classical Elements’ Zen Living decorative hardware designs feature mix-and-match elements in metal, wood and stone as well as natural bamboo that has been laminated over engineered hardwood. Zen Living is suitable for indoor use, though the bronze metal finish and Teak Pagoda or Teak River Pebble finials can be used outdoors as well.

Vision13:IWCE

Vision13:IWCE (International Window Coverings Expo) takes place in New Orleans from Friday, April 19 to Sunday, 21, 2013 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. In addition to the manufacturers’ exhibits, educational seminars are offered at a variety of price points, ranging from free to $165 in a range of time lengths from a bit over an hour to several hours.

Free sessions include: “Design Directions 2013 & Beyond,” “Vision Design & Workroom Competition Awards Ceremony” and “Future of the Industry.”

Seminars requiring fee payment include: “Website Design: 5 Key Elements,” “Innovative Display & Presentation Ideas,” “Window Design Portmanteau: Flaunting Your Talent,” “Need for Speed: Development of Best Fabrication Methods,” “Don’t Be Afraid of Shades: Safe Soft Shade Solutions,” and “How to Design Your Own Fabrics, Wallpapers & Window Shades.”

Also taking place are a variety of Construction Zone demonstrations, such as “Slipcover Embellishments,” “Controlling Panel Layers,” “Using the Proportionate Scale” and “Eliminate Light Holes from Blackout.”
For more information on registration, exhibitors and seminars, visit wf-vision.com.

 
Remote Controlled Shades Serena battery powered, remote control shades from Lutron Electronics can be easily self-installed on most windows. Serena is available in three opacities based on the room’s sunlight needs.
Wood Wonders Orion Ornamental Iron’s New York Wood Collection includes finials in a range of styles that are designed to fit 1-3/8-, 2-, 2-1/4- or 3-inch poles. Offered in 35 Iron Art™ and 11 Wood Art™ finishes, as well as custom finishes, New York Wood is part of the Wood Art™ line that features wood poles in round, rope or fluted designs, along with two bracket styles and two ring styles. All wood poles are also available with traversing motorization by Somfy, with lengths up to 30 feet.
Center Color & Texture The Alessandra Collection of classic damask patterned fabrics from World Wide Fabric features a velvet texture and luster. The line is offered in 16 vibrant colors and is well-suited for use as drapery, upholstery, pillows and other home accents.

Resources

• Alhambra Hardware Co. Inc., 800-461-0060, alhambra-hardware.com
•Classical Elements, 919-234-8025, classicalelements.com
•Comfortex Window Fashions, 800-843-4151, comfortex.com
•Hunter Douglas, Inc. 800-436-7366, hunterdouglas.com
•Orion Ornamental Iron, Inc., 877-476-6278, ironartbyorion.com
•Lafayette Interior Fashions, 800-342-5523, lafvb.com
•Lutron Electronics, 800-588-7661, lutron.com
•Phifer Inc., 205-345-2120, phifer.com
•Somfy Systems, Inc., 800-647-6639, somfy.com
•Vision13:IWCE, 866-229-2386, wf-vision.com
•World Wide, 323-263-1111


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