Ken McWilliams, the owner of ABC Blind & Drapery, which started in Austin in 1947, shares his accomplishments, challenges and observations about how Austin and ABC Blind & Drapery have changed over time in a multi-part interview.
How have you seen Austin grow since the beginning of your time at ABC Blind & Drapery?
KM: In the mid 80s the largest employers in Austin were the University of Texas and the State of Texas government. The three independent employers were IBM, Tracor, and Dell. The economy mainly revolved around how these entities were doing. As Austin began to to attract more independent companies, a lot of which were related to high tech; we began too see growth in hiring, new home building, and our local economy. This was good for small businesses like mine.
What has remained the same at ABC Blind & Drapery?
KM: We have been in business 68 years; locally owned, and we continue to strive to give our clients the best customer service possible no matter how small or large their order may be. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our service, and appreciate feedback from our customers that may help us in that effort.
How has ABC Blind & Drapery adapted to keep up with the changing times?
KM: We keep up with the newest products on the market and add them to our offerings each year. We just redesigned our website which will help those going online to search for window treatments in Austin either from their computer or phone identify what we can offer them. The site displays many photos of the different treatments which we hope helps those looking for new window coverings.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
KM: The biggest was a major fire. On Saturday night August 12, 2012, there was a major fire at the business, which totally burned the inside of the building. Luckily I own the building next door and was able to move into part of it and not lose one day of business. We opened on Monday morning at 8:30am with a phone installed by 9:30am. I spent the next 15 months rebuilding and refurnishing the building. We moved back into our current location in mid November 2013. We have a beautiful show room, offices and fabrication facility.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your business?
KM: Helping others discover the possibilities that will make their home or office look and feel like what they dreamed and hoped it would be.
What parts of your job do you most enjoy?
KM: I look forward every morning to seeing my coworkers. We’re like a small family. Everyone works hard and pulls together to get the job done and keep our customers happy.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
KM: During the 30 years I have been at ABC I have only hired 13 people. The average number of years with the company of those 13 is currently 12 1/2 years of devoted customer service and satisfaction. It is a pleasure to work with our talented group of professionals
My general manager, Phil Figueroa, has been with me for 29 years, starting at age 17. He started as an installer, then went into fabrication, then into outside sales, next as sales manager, and finally to general manager. He is a special individual who knows the window covering business inside and out. He is great with our customers and sets an amazing example of what customer relations and service should be.