Providing blinds for Australian homes and businesses for 11 years, 1800-BLINDS is a leader in the industry. We caught up with Dean Matthews, the company’s managing director, to find out more about this vibrant company.
Mr. Matthews, you’re in a fairly niche-specific industry. What prompted you to open 1800-BLINDS?
Working in the industry for many years and having worked for both small and large companies, I found there to be a large gap in the market place for a company that could provide the personal service of a small company while offering the competitive pricing that large volume company can provide. I believed then and still do to this day that a well run business with the right people should be able to deliver on all three parts of the equation: service, quality and value. Though the old business adage states you can only have two of the three at any given time, we have managed to deliver on all three and continually strive to do better for our customers. In short I started the business because I believed we could give Australian families better quality products at affordable prices without sacrificing service.
How did you prepare to offer that kind of experience to your customers?
Coming from a large family. I’m the second youngest of seven children which has no doubt help me have a very good understanding of patience, tolerance and sharing. While the family was not a wealthy one, we were always encouraged to be the very best we could be with no limits ever being set. I still remember my mother saying on many occasions, “You can be whatever you want to be; it’s up to you!”
I was educated in the public system until year eight at which time I left school to help contribute towards the family on a financial basis. My first job was in a wire factory where I earned $80 pw. From there I moved from one factory job to the next, each time earning a little more money until around age 16 when I was earning the same money as any other man in the factory, and in my mind, I had made it. Had it not been for the people around me telling me I could do better I might still be there today. I still remember a sheet metal worker in his 60s telling me, “Get out of here while you’re still young, or you will end up like me– stuck here forever.” I laughed then, but I now realise it was a turning point for me. I enrolled in TAFE to do my HSC followed by business studies and shifted my focus to sales-oriented employment. Through my 20s, I sold just about everything you could imagine, including blinds, where I stayed for many years learning every aspect of the industry hands on. I left the industry in my late 20s to enter into the IT industry where I managed a newly formed printing division for a well-known software company. In the first two years of managing the division with complete autonomy, I was able to go from zero revenue to over three million per annum. It was a wonderful opportunity to put my business principle into action and have a successful outcome. Though I was rewarded handsomely for my success, I still felt that I could achieve more and that’s when I started 1800-BLINDS.
That’s an inspiring story! Were there any bumps along the way?
I would like to say I have not made any mistakes, but the truth is that I have made plenty of them and I’m sure I will make many more. I tell my staff that I will never judge them by their mistakes. Rather, I will judge them by how they deal with their mistakes. There have been so many obstacles along the way it is hard to pick just one. That said, by far the largest obstacle to growing a business is attracting the right people to work in it. The people in the business are the business and, if you get them wrong, you have no chance of success.
The headquarters for 1800-BLINDS is located at 167 Airds Road in Leumeah, NSW. For more information about the company, visit www.1800blinds.com.au or call 1-800-254-637.
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