‘Blind’ Ambition Key to Gordon’s Window Decor’s Global Success

September 10, 2009  
Filed under Business

By Stephanie Choate

Gordon Clements is helping to put Vermont on the map – both across the nation and around the globe.

His company – Gordon’s Window Décor – has developed a following in Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as across the U.S.
“It’s just really a great product,” Clements said. “I decided early on that window treatments could be not only attractive but also very efficient,”

The international customers found his company on the Internet, Clements said, and were especially interested in his energy-saving EcoSmart Insulated Shades. Sean O’Hara of Sentanta Building Products, located in Dublin, Ireland, is now a dealer for the company.

“He ordered some products and he really, really liked the product,” Clements said

“There wasn’t a comparable product available over there, so he decided he wanted to buy and distribute EcoSmart shades in Ireland.”

Clements started Gordon’s Window Decor in 1986, building it from a one-man operation in his basement to a four-office company employing over 25 professionals. Most of the products are made in the Essex Jct. factory and showroom.

Aside from a steady stream of residential customers, Gordon’s has made shades for over 200 colleges, from UVM to Harvard. The company also handles the shades for the Federal Deposit Insurance Company building in Washington, D.C.

Clements said one of the best parts of his job is the people he works with. Many of them have been with him for 20 years, he said, and when people join the team they tend to stay.

“When I drive to go to work I’m going to be with my friends for the day,” Clements said. “Working in such a positive place makes you feel really good.”

The staff often jokes that they should be on a reality show, since they are like a big family, he said.

Clements didn’t always plan to be a businessman, however.

He grew up in Peterborough, Ontario, a town he described as “a hockey hotbed,” and got a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. After working at Colgate-Palmolive for a few years, however, he realized he preferred spending time with the employees in the marketing division.
“I really enjoyed being on the people side of it, rather than working on heat transfer equations and stuff like that,” he said. “Getting out from behind the desk and thinking of ways to reach people.”

Clements got a master’s of business administration from McGill University in Montreal, then worked his way up the ladder at Hunter-Douglas, a major window treatment company. In 1981, he bought a window treatment company in Montreal.

While he and his wife, Dianne, loved the city, they were less enthusiastic about the school system, he said. The Clements’ moved to Essex in 1982 with their three daughters, Sara, 34, Shelley, 32, and Kelly, 29.

“We tried living in Montreal for a year, but then we decided we wanted to raise our family in Vermont,” Clements said.

Clements commuted to Montreal for several years, but when the hour and a half drive began to wear on him, he sold the company.
“We really, really wanted to stay in Vermont at that point in time, so I started Gordon’s Window Décor,” he said. “It was the only thing I knew.”

The Clements’ now live in Swanton, and Clements said he and his wife have been very happy in Vermont.

“I could go on forever,” Clements said of the reasons to love Vermont. “My love is to ski and to be on the lake, so I get to have both –  how good can life be?”

Next up is a very different job for the seasoned businessman.

The Clements’ are about to welcome their first grandchild. Their oldest daughter, Sara, is due next week. She just moved back home to have the baby – a boy to be named Elijah.

“It’s exciting,” Clements said. “She just got her doctorate as well, so there’s a lot to celebrate around here.”

 

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