Strictly shutters

48_oow_1Rick Skidmore, owner of Timberlane custom shutter company in Montgomeryville, Pa., started his woodworking business from a sales and marketing position. The company has grown to include clients from across the country who are looking for custom shutters to grace their buildings.

“I’m not a woodworker by trade. I started the business about 17 years ago when I had an old home in a historic area with old shutters that are falling apart. I went looking for a company that did that and couldn’t find anyone. I had worked for an investment firm and knew how to develop brands and service customers, so I had thoughts on how to fill that void,” says Skidmore.

The company operates out of a 70,000-sq.-ft. facility with about 60 employees, including in-house sales and design staffs.

“We have lots of different customer segments. We sell directly to homeowners and also to the design community. We sell to other woodworking firms when it’s cost-effective for them to outsource to us. We have lots of little niche segments in the marketplace, like movie-set work.”

48_oow_2The company is also tied to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and does work on numerous historically significant properties.

“The reproduction standards are really high so we have to match what would have been there originally to meet a certain code or certain standard that they have on the property.”

Skidmore says business has been challenging lately in light of the struggling economy. He concedes that shutters are a product people want, but don’t necessarily need. On the flip side, he says the company recently updated its equipment and made other adjustments to operate as a lean business and to be responsive to orders in ways that make better economic sense.

“People don’t have to buy shutters. They’re something that they can put off or delay from a sales perspective. It’s difficult to manage our margins in an environment when it’s harder to pass on price increases. The perception from our customer base is that these are tough times and these should be cheaper just by default and that’s not the case.”

Contact: Timberlane Inc., 150 Domorah Dr., Montgomeryville, PA 18936. Tel: 800-250-2221. www.timberlane.com

— Jennifer Hicks

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue.

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