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Letter to the Editor

How Country Curtains Stays with Domestic Manufacturing

There has been no industry harder hit than textile manufacturers in the last 10 to 15 years. Despite this, we are still a thriving small manufacturer of window and bed covering with a facility in Housatonic, MA and one in West Hartford, CT. MassMEP is a large reason for our success.

Our only customer is our owner, Country Curtains. Competition is still fierce as we have to compete for our business and the major competitors are in China and now India. They have the structural advantage of being very close to the textile mills, have low cost and plentiful labor, and receive a 12% to 18% export credit from their government. Country Curtains is more than just another retailer and is committed to having domestic manufacturing. Our goal is and has been to compete with our strategic advantage of proximity, our knowledge of the customer and our workers, many of whom have been here over 20 years.

MassMEP came to us in 2004 and we began our Lean journey. They helped us gain two state grants. They became a business partner in the true sense of the word. They helped us every step of the way, becoming involved at every level of our production and giving us valuable tools to face a difficult market place. 

As our volume contracted from 2008 to present, we were faced with tough choices.  These tools helped us make carefully considered decisions that reduced our operating cost, reducing our breakeven point by a third. The training empowered our workers to push for continuous improvement. It also helped us develop cross training programs building the worker’s knowledge base, allowing us to stretch our traditional product base into a wider selection of finished items.

MassMEP offered us a solution to some of our biggest problems in managing our raw materials both at the end of our latest grant and with some additional consulting. They have a seemingly bottomless supply of talent, people who can help us with the experience of having been in the same situation and having succeeded. We are grateful for MassMEP’s help and support in keeping us strong, competitive and relevant through the most difficult times.

Thom Swift, President
Housatonic Curtain Company, Inc.

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