Austin Window Treatments – A History of ABC Blind & Drapery: Part I

The ABC Blind & Drapery building was originally painted purple in 1986.
The ABC Blind & Drapery building was originally painted purple in 1986.

ABC Blind & Drapery has been a local business in Austin for over 65 years.  Ken McWilliams, the current owner has been inviting Austinites to “Consider the possibilities” for Austin window treatments since 1985.  

Through an interview Ken shares the history of his company, his challenges and successes.  

Does the “ABC” in ABC Blind & Drapery stand for anything?

KM: Yes, the Austin Blind Company.

How did ABC Blind & Drapery start?

KM: After World War II the VA (Veterans Administration) and FHA (Federal Housing Administration) were created to help finance mortgages on homes.  The access to financing resulted in a housing boom.  At the same time, both the VA and FHA financing required that homes have venetian blinds.  In 1947 Austin locals, Ed Daugherty and John Reeves, saw the market opportunity and created Austin Blind Company (ABC) and located the business at 6th and Lamar Boulevard. Ed and John started the business fabricating 2’ basswood blinds to meet the home financing requirements.  

They would call on home builders in the mornings, and measure windows in homes being sold.  They would return to their fabrication facility in the afternoon; cut the wood slats, head and bottom rails; then paint them.  The following day they would assemble the blinds and then schedule installation with their customers.  The partnership lasted 3 years.  In 1950 Ed bought out John and moved to a new location; 6221 North Lamar Boulevard, where ABC is located today.

During the 1950s and 1960s, ABC added new product offerings: roller shades, wall paper, fabric roman shades, draperies, upholstery, etc.  With the addition of the new products, ABC became a company offering a complete line of custom window treatments.  This resulted in the name change to ABC Blind & Drapery Company.

How did your association with and ownership of ABC Blind & Drapery come about?

KM: I was in the real estate business from 1970 to the spring of 1985.  I took over ABC in 1985 and began to learn about retail sales, fabrication, and installation of custom window coverings.  Sales were the easy part as I had been in sales all my life.  The real learning curve came in becoming knowledgeable about all of the different treatments, the fabrication process, and how to install all of these treatments.

The interview will continue with Ken sharing his proudest accomplishments, challenges and observations about how Austin and ABC Blind & Drapery have changed over time.