Made For the Shade Window Adornments
After getting out of the Army, Gary Pelow was a trained engineer with a passion for photography, and never would have envisioned getting into the window covering business, not to mention finding himself living in Arizona. But after starting and running a successful interior design company in Las Vegas for a few years, an opportunity presented itself in the Valley of the Sun.
Never one to back down from a challenge, and always an entrepreneur, Gary saw an opportunity to get into the window covering and fashion market and fill a void by serving the northeast metro area. Through his time working in interior design, he had established a solid relationship with Hunter Douglas window furnishings. Soon, after becoming an authorized dealer, Carefree Coverings was born.
To help him during those early days prior to having a showroom, Gary customized a 14-passenger van to help show off his inventory. The van is surrounded with 14 windows, each of which has been fitted with a different window covering, including seven different lifting systems and motorization. It is also wrapped with Hunter Douglas branding and acts as a roving billboard as it makes its way around town.
“Before that, it was tough,” explains Pelow. “I could show people different products and colors out of a catalogue, but I couldn’t show them how anything worked. But with the van, I can pull up to somebody’s house and show my clients all sorts of different options, as well as how they operate. It has proven to be a wonderful tool.”
Gary opened his first brick and mortar showroom in 2006, but was quickly faced with a struggling economy and slow sales. Rather than give up, he decided to adapt, and again reached out to Hunter Douglas to receive education and training on window treatment repair. Through that, he eventually became a Hunter Douglas master installer and a certified repairman. He then achieved a specialization in motorization, which allowed him to pick up jobs on the higher end of the spectrum where others did not have the same experience with the technology to do a quality job.
This diversity allowed Gary to actually grow through the recession, and as the economy stabilized, he decided to split the company in two. Carefree Coverings continued to focus on the sales and installation side of things, while the repairs and cleanings fell under a new sister-company known as Pro Blind Repair.
Through his company’s evolution, Pelow has been blessed with an amazingly loyal staff that shares his passion for top-notch customer service. Offering benefits such as profit sharing, he has fostered a culture in which his employees want to buy in, and one that he feels will be key to future success.
“I have the perfect group of employees, who I feel at times are more passionate about this business than I am,” says Pelow.
Among the team is Sales and Design Consultant Diane Pirman, who has owned a successful window treatment company for 17 years in Chicago, and has also been recognized by Hunter Douglas for her understanding of the functionality of window fashions. Connie and her husband Richard Kozma had also previously owned not one, but two, successful window covering businesses prior to Carefree Coverings, and believe in educating clients so they understand the full spectrum of their options and can make decisions that most strongly fit their needs.
Certified installer and repairman Michael Austin came to the company by way of the restaurant industry, where he gained a passion for customer service, and proved to be a great fit with a dedicated approach to learning and excelling in his new role.
“It really is just amazing,” says Pelow. “I am surrounded by people with so much strength, who believe in this and care about it just the same way that I do. This whole thing was a dream—and I dream big—but this one is all about the team.”
Carefree Coverings is located at the southeast corner of Carefree Highway and Scottsdale Road in the Terravita Marketplace. More information on their products or services can be found by visiting their website at CareFreeCoverings.com, or by giving them a call at 480.595.2920.