This page is reprinted from Window Fashion Magazine.
When Greg Harkinson, owner and president of Amore Drapery Hardware, attended Austin College in Sherman, Tex. in the 70s, it was evident even back then that he would become a successful businessman and entrepreneur. "When I first began college, my intent was to study chemistry and work to become a doctor. Soon, however, my plans changed dramatically." Harkinson explains, "While attending school, I started a small publications business in which I provided my school with a student activities calendar. By the end of my senior year the business had grown so much that I was publishing for three other college campuses as well. I realized then that business is what I wanted to pursue."
FULL SPEED AHEAD
Armed with a degree in chemistry, a natural knack for marketing and an MBA in finance, Harkinson began his business career with Exxon Chemicals doing business analysis and planning. After 10 successful years, however, he had an epiphany. "I was in my 30's and took a vacation to Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok and it really opened my eyes. I saw that there is a huge world with boundless opportunities to grow. At that moment I knew it was time for me to move on and make something else happen in my life." Unique and beautiful metal rods and finials from Amore, like the ones shown above, can help define a room's theme. Of course, what that was hadn't yet been decided yet; Harkinson just knew it was going to be something great and very successful.
ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER
Of course Amore didn't just happen, but rather was the result of many other opportunities and contacts. "After leaving Exxon, I was on the lookout for something exciting and new. At the time my sister owned and operated a gift basket import company and asked me to consult. While I applied my business background and experience, I began to learn about the gift and home accessories industry. Using the High Point, N.C. company showroom as an incubator for new product development, I started several of my own gift and accessory lines. One such line was Ivy by the Yard, a flexible wire form adorned with real copper verdigris leaves, which could be fashioned as a drapery holdback, among other uses. This product was so hot that Pottery Barn picked it up the day it was introduced." Soon Harkinson was developing and manufacturing home accessory products for some of the best retailers in the country. With this involvement in metal casting and product development, Harkinson started a company, LaMani, named after his three daughters, Lauren, Margot and Nicole. Harkinson soon realized that the needs of furniture and accessory stores were much different from the needs of the individual drapery decorator. "Gift stores would buy stock to sell later, while decorators always sell for the job. To focus more on the needs of the decorator, a separate company was setup four years ago and that was the beginning of Amore."
Today Amore has become a leading full line decorative hardware manufacturer. Success, Harkinson shares, comes from his ability to listen to his customers. "I put myself in my customer's position and focus on what matters most," he says. "By doing this we have developed beautiful sales literature to help them in the selection process and we have also carefully planned the timing process of our products. To allay any fears that finishes may be anything other than pictured, we provide actual finishes on small casting samples. By doing this we have reduced our ship time down to two to three weeks for custom orders. By our customers telling us what they want we can then take the time to develop better products."
New successes are predicted: Amore has just introduced several new products that are so unique and customer specific, Harkinson had them patented. "Our newest product," Harkinson begins, "is a metal bay window rod, unique because of its flexible corner connecting piece. It actually flexes to fit the curves of the window, allowing for superb installation and a great look." Another new product, Harkinson enthuses, is a product called Butterfly Rings, which can be hung from a ceiling as a support for a bed canopy, instead of using traditional posts, The rings, which resemble butterflies, can also be hung on a wall to swag fabric for window treatments. Finally, a new ring and bracket product-the result of listening to what his clients were asking for-is making a strong showing. The rings are designed to slide over a rod bracket, as if like magic. This unique combination solves a significant limitation of decorative rods, allowing for split or one-way hand traverse for larger windows or double French doors.
new product, a metal rod for bay windows using a patented flexible connecting
bracket, is sure to be a big seller in 2000.
Today, Harkinson couldn't be happier with how things have worked out. "When I left Exxon, I knew I would be doing something completely different. Falling into the interior design industry has been a remarkably pleasant surprise. This industry is wonderful because of the many opportunities to interact with such talented and creative individuals." Harkinson adds that he especially enjoys exhibiting at trade shows such as the International Window Coverings EXPO and the Window Fashions regional events, where he is considered a "Gold Partner" exhibitor, supporting each of these two-day events by exhibiting the Amore product. "These smaller regional shows take the Amore name to all edges of the U.S., increasing our exposure to targeted window coverings professionals." He continues, "I like getting to know my customers. Since Amore is such a customer-driven company, exhibiting at trade shows allows for important feedback from all our customers, including many innovative, independent design firms."
All in all, Harkinson is thrilled to be a part of the window coverings industry-and watching Amore grow more successful each year is proof positive that following his instincts and building a new career in window fashions was the right decision.
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