For window shade projects to run smoothly, it takes cooperation and trust between the manufacturer and the seller/installer. One way we work to build that trust is by inviting dealers to visit Spiceland, Indiana, for the “Draper experience.”

Earlier this week, Draper welcomed a group of dealers, mostly from Indiana and Ohio, for our Draper experience program. During the day we shared some of our history, shared marketing resources, and took them on a factory tour. Porter Chambers of fabric weaver Phifer was also on hand to provide shade fabric training.

Here are four key takeaways that seemed to have the biggest impact on the participants:

Architectural manager Chris Broome explains Draper’s system of stocking fabrics by American weavers Phifer and Mermet.

Innovative solutions.
Even though we say we are “focused on innovative solutions,” many dealers don’t fully grasp the depth of solutions available to them from Draper. Our variety of solutions is second to none. And whether you need one or 15,000, we have the manufacturing capacity to get the job done on time. Our drive to innovate also informs our interior processes. We are continually developing new manufacturing solutions to help us deliver the highest quality products as quickly as possible.

Discussing options in Draper’s large format print room.

Custom capabilities.
Sometimes the best solution is a custom one. We design and manufacture innovations that support even the most complex project requirements. But some of our smallest custom abilities garnered the most interest. Our ability to custom cut or otherwise incorporate logos and company names into shade hardware and the availability of custom powder coat colors were particularly popular.

Another big hit was our print room. That’s where we print our Graphic FlexShades. Custom printed shades are an excellent solution for large graphics for business, using a wall of windows as an artistic canvas, communicating a message in a restrictive environment, bringing the outdoors into your space, or printing a unique design.

Custom FlexShade Panels being packed for shipment.

Insourced, not outsourced.
Touring Draper’s Spiceland manufacturing facilities takes a few hours. By the time a tour is over, everyone is generally ready for a break. There is so much to see because Draper doesn’t believe in outsourcing. We do the opposite. We insource as many tasks as possible, including:

  • Powder coating hardware
  • Bending metal to form headboxes and pockets
  • Stamping clamps and other parts
  • Product design
  • Product assembly

While this gives us a larger manufacturing footprint, it also gives us greater control over quality and lead times.

The human touch.
More than one person remarked that the process wasn’t as automated as they had imagined.

Window shade production is significantly more automated now than in the past. Parts are tracked via bar code. Fabric cutting is done on CNC machines. Seams are welded using radio frequency technology.

But people remain the most important part of our manufacturing process. This is especially important for product quality. Throughout production, a shade is checked and re-checked for flaws. Before it is shipped, each unit is operated and viewed against a backlight.

Our commitment to maintaining the “human touch” in the manufacturing process also represents our commitment to our community. And our domestic production ensures higher quality and shorter lead times than our competitors—many of whom have moved their manufacturing to Asia or Mexico.

These Draper experiences provide us with the opportunity to develop closer relationships with our dealers. They provide our dealers with a new understanding of our capabilities and company values. But that’s not all.

A participant in this week’s experience put it best: “It gives us more tools and more knowledge going in when meeting with our customers.” For more information on the wide range of solutions offered by Draper, click here.