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Question time - Masterblinds

Kevin Keegan, managing director and owner of Masterblinds, gives us an insight into a company that believes in innovation and a ‘can-do’ attitude.

 

How did you get started in the blinds & shutters industry?

As a very young man I was working for a window cleaning company and we were doing a lot of renovation work on venetian blinds as well as cleaning them.

I was always good with my hands, so the owner of the company asked me to learn up on venetian blinds so that they could start to build and sell them from scratch. We also used to recover and do the maintenance on traditional foldaway blinds.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

An old salesman who passed away many years ago called Fred Meach. He could sell snow to an Eskimo but he couldn’t measure to save his life. One job I recall he went into a boutique with no pattern books or sales materials and actually sold a job to them. Unfortunately, he also didn’t have a tape measure so he guessed the size by counting paving slabs along the pavement! Unsurprisingly he was two foot out. His sales skills were admirable and I’ve never met another sales person like him.

What would you consider your greatest achievement at Masterblinds?

My greatest achievement at Masterblinds is that we are still in business after 30 years and survived through two recessions. My workforce is like a family to me, so I’m very proud to say that I have never had to lay a single worker off during rockier times.

How has the company itself changed in your time there?

We originally started off as a small retailer selling external blinds – we got into trade through heavy investment. We realised that we weren’t happy with the quality that we were getting from our suppliers, so we decided to start making them ourselves. People started asking us to make blinds for them and, before we knew it, we were selling to the trade more than fitting ourselves!

How would you define the Masterblinds brand?

We are a family run business, who care about quality and innovation.

What do you feel is the greatest threat to the industry today?

Ikea! (laughs). Not really. There’s always worries about cheap imports, the recession and red tape, but in all honestly I don’t think there is anything that we need to be worried about.

What have you learned from the most recent recession?

To not let it scare you; to invest in your company and marketing.

Can the market look forward to a less turbulent 2013?

I don’t think it will improve anytime soon, but we are already starting to notice a slight growth, so anything is possible.

What is the best thing about your job?

I have 30 staff who, like I said, are like family (and in some cases actually are my family!) I love blinds and I love pushing the boundaries of blind technology manufacturing.

And the worst?

There is nothing about my job I don’t like. I’m a man with a big shed at the end of my garden. I get to play with blinds all day and it makes me happy.

What does a typical day at work involve at Masterblinds?

Anything from technical problem solving to design and development. I love tinkering with the machines and helping all my departments run smoothly.

From where does Masterblinds draw the inspiration for its products?

Customer demand as, ultimately, our business is driven by their needs.

Is there room in the industry for product innovation?

It is the cornerstone of our business. From day one we have worked with the attitude that if a product doesn’t work the way we want to, we’ll do it ourselves. And do it better!

Who do you most admire in business and why?

Richard Branson. I know people who have worked for him; he looks after his employees and, like all good entrepreneurs, he follows his gut and isn’t afraid of taking risks.

How do you enjoy yourself away from work?

Family life, the odd game of poker and walks to the local pub with my dog (and head of security!) Buddy.

What can we expect from Masterblinds in the near future?

Innovation and expansion. We have several new products coming online and continue to develop in-house ideas.

What advice would you give someone entering the industry today?

Don’t be scared to think big.

What do you think will be the future big changes for the industry?

I can see more companies developing more child safety aware products, more motorisation for internal blinds and more intelligent fabrics.

Masterblinds

 

 

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