This category covers establishments primarily engaged in the manufacture of curtain and drapery rods, poles, and fixtures; venetian blinds; horizontal miniblinds; and vertical blinds in all materials except canvas. Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing canvas window shades and awnings are classified in SIC 2394: Canvas and Related Products.
Blind and Shade Manufacturing
Companies engaged in the manufacture of drapery hardware and window coverings have witnessed an astounding demand for their wares in the past two decades and have introduced many new types of products to satisfy consumer needs. However, U.S. manufacturers in this category face stiff competition from overseas companies that produce cheap imitations of higher-priced products for the consumer market. The trade gap for this industry is amongst the highest of all industries. In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 502 companies in the United States were manufacturing window blinds and shades. The states with the most companies in this industry were California and Florida.
The value of shipments generated by this industry increased steadily throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, from $2.4 billion in 1997 to $2.98 billion in 2005. Conversely, the window blind and shade manufacturing industry employed 29,536 workers in 1997, but by 2005 the number of workers employed in the industry had fallen to 20,823. Production workers accounted for approximately 70 percent of employees.
Many of the U.S. firms that manufacture and sell drapery hardware and window blinds are private companies, but some are subsidiaries of much larger publicly-traded home furnishings conglomerates. Like other manufacturers, they are comprised of several specific divisions. One of the industry's largest concerns is in providing consumers with up-to-date and contemporary styles. For this reason, research and development departments play an important role in companies engaged in manufacturing drapery hardware and window blinds. This division keeps an eye on general trends in consumer lifestyle patterns, home furnishing expenditures, and overall color and pattern changes in the interior design industry. Design analysts in the research and development departments look for certain color groups and textures that they believe will appeal to the broadest range of consumers. For instance, in the 1980s, dramatic changes in the American lifestyle and consumer spending patterns fueled by the burgeoning emphasis on high-tech products refashioned the home environment. A new edginess to interior design was manifested in sharp angles and artificial colors, such as mauve. Additionally, a downturn in the economy in the late 1980s, combined with a growing awareness of the concept of the global village, brought a new palette of colors to the window coverings industry and encouraged the introduction of the wood miniblind.
In the interior furnishings industry, window blinds fall under the category of home textiles, although they are not specifically textiles. Previously, curtains and drapes geared to match furniture and bedspreads were the dominant force in the category, but they were replaced by the popularity of miniblinds beginning in the 1980s and continuing through the 2000s. Consumers switched from buying pinch-pleated draperies and curtains to miniblinds accessorized with a "top treatment"—a swath of fabric that matched some other component of the interior. In the industry, miniblinds, vertical blinds, and pleated shades were first known as "alternative window treatments" to differentiate them from fabric-based draperies and curtains. Today, miniblinds are ubiquitous; they...