Joplin automated shade company expands operations

Aug. 26—A technology-driven window shade manufacturer has reinvested in itself and in Joplin by continuing to expand sales and manufacturing operations, and now has consolidated all of its operations into one building.

PowerShades makes custom manual and automated window coverings for residential and commercial use. The operation, which started in a business incubator space with help from the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, grew in a short time to use three buildings.

It has now moved all operations under one roof at 2925 S. Range Line Road. The building is a former warehouse that has been remodeled to provide space for offices, sales, inventory, manufacturing, shipping and a technology lab.

In addition to consolidating operations, the space has been needed because the company has grown from 20 to 50 employees and has seen sales double, which required more manufacturing space. It also formerly contracted for the manufacture of its blinds with other companies but has moved all manufacturing in-house. The new building allowed the company to double its operational capacity.

Efficiency resulting from consolidating operations should also serve customers by streamlining order fulfillment and by increased quality control, company officials said.

PowerShades founders Jason Turner and Ryan Chacon combined their experience in furniture automation and product innovation and development to start the company in 2017 with the help of some investors. They previously had worked in other industries, including Leggett & Platt Inc.

They decided to strike out on their own to develop a company based on their idea to design the first and only fully automated roller shades operated by the ethernet. That was a gap they saw in shade manufacturing that they believed would make their products more convenient to customers.

"When we started this, Jason and I, we looked at window treatments as being old technology," Chacon said. "Not too much excitement with them. So we put quite a bit of technology into them. I would say that PowerShades is as much as of a software company as we are a shade manufacturer.

"The software lends itself really well for hotels and Airbnbs and timeshares because they can manage opening and closing the shades through our cloud. We have a cloud database that manages the shades. They can be powered by ethernet as well as solar energy, AC or DC electrical current, or radio frequency."

The company currently is making window covering systems for several hotels.

"We're just completing one in Connecticut that is all very automated," Chacon said. "They open and close when customers come and go out of their rooms, but we can do them or they can be based on where the sun's at, but it's all driven with our software, and that's given us a pretty competitive edge."

Residential shades still are the largest sector of the company's business.

"I think our commitment is to provide smart home integration and make it accessible to everybody and to increase a sense of convenience and lifestyle to an average homeowner," said Blake Ramsey, a marketing representative of the company. "As we move on through the 2020s and on to the 2030s, smart homes are becoming more prominent. People enjoy the convenience and being able to control things in their home with a touch or voice command."

The blinds also add style, Ramsey said, with a variety of fabrics, decorative and functional elements.

While some window covering systems require computer setup, PowerShades are already programmed to operate when they arrive. Customers can opt to control the blinds by internet to set times they want the blinds to open or close or even control them by voice through digital assistants such as Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant.

Another reason sales are growing is because the blinds can save energy and money on utility bills, Ramsey said.

"A homeowner can save up to about 30% on energy like heating and air conditioning costs by programming your shades to raise and lower at the right time to block the sun," Ramsey said.

Shade availability is not limited to use indoors. Shades also can be made for patios or decks and other outdoor installations. PowerShades were used at Guy Fieri's Branson Kitchen & Bar and Andy B's Tiki Bar at Branson Landing.

PowerShades is ready to hire more employees, including regional sales managers and quality assurance personnel at its new Joplin location.