October 2010

Reel Screens - The Product That Sells Itself

Author: David Zunker | Photographer: John Brackett

Okay everybody… who in sales wants a product that sells itself?

Rhetorical question. No need to raise your hand. But get ready for a bit of product envy, because Chip Bailey and Eric Schoeppe believe they have just the thing in Reel Screens, a remarkable bit of home amenity magic that, despite the name, has nothing to do with the film industry.

They represent and install a product whose reputation for remarkable sleekness, durability and convenience spreads from house to house by word of mouth. If you see one you want one. In fact, you may want more than one for your doors, your windows, even your garage doors.

Decades after the concept was first tested and implemented in a limited fashion by Pella, the high profile window people, the idea of screen doors and windows sliding out from apparently nowhere and collapsing back to disappear inside a thin trim piece has gained traction.

Bailey, who represents and directs dealers for Reel Screens nationwide from a distribution hub right here on Hilton Head Island, says that he was first trained on Reel Screens sales by a slightly smug, completely confident comrade who maintained that a demonstration would likely result in the client’s attempt to pay for installation right on the spot.

“Yeah, right, I thought. But we went out to this lovely lady’s house with the product demonstration and she was just amazed,” said Bailey. “And sure enough, she was pulling out her checkbook before we were done, wanting to know how soon we could install Reel Screens in her house. It was pretty astonishing.”

Schoeppe, who owns the Hilton Head Island area distribution rights for sales and installations, has had the same experience and estimates he closes 90 percent of the sales that involve a demonstration.

“We take a miniature model of the screens out to the homes to show and tell,” said Schoeppe with a laugh, “and it’s really true. These screens are so slick, so futuristic, so safe and so simple that everyone wants them.”

Gone are the old days of the swinging screen door with the distinctive “creak, twang, slam!” In fact, in some neighborhoods, especially on Hilton Head Island, weather-related ordinances require that doors open out, which eliminates the possibility of screen doors that also open out. Reel Screens can be installed instead of screen doors, because rather than opening out or in, they simply pull across with an ease that is also quite remarkable.

They’re also safer than traditional screen doors and windows, thanks to a design that allows the screens to “give” if kids get a bit rambunctious and run through them or adults forget they’re there and try to walk through with, let’s say drinks, for example. With old screens, the result would be torn out mesh, bent frames and pulled out splines. Not so these. Once the screens “give,” it’s just a simple matter of reseating them on the track, which can be done in seconds, and then pulling the screen open or returning it to the frame canister where it lives.

Here’s the secret: There’s no smoke and mirrors; it’s all about magnets, weights, springs and pulleys—that’s the magic.

“The springs are in the housing,” said Schoeppe. “They’re so well-built, I’ve never seen one go bad, and I’ve been selling these for seven years. The only thing we’ve had to do is adjust the tensioner, and that’s part of the lifetime warranty.”

Eric Schoeppe

The screens come in eight colors and can be matched to most house colors. Some customers even get a tad creative, requesting screen colors to match roofs or complement trim. The screens themselves can virtually disappear or can be opaqued to comply with design review requirements.

Bailey and Schoeppe say that now is the best time to consider installing Reel Screens. Both are willing to admit that a South Carolina summer is not conducive to open doors, even allowing for prevailing beachside breezes. But fall, when doors can be opened, allowing cooler air to come in and circulate, is the best time to have screens that allow wind in, but keep bugs out.

That’s why the strongest selling season for both Bailey and Schoeppe is autumn into early December. It’s also the reason that a relatively new product—power screens for porches, verandas and garages—has dramatically expanded in popularity.

Those who enjoy using outdoor space as an extension of their indoor space for entertaining and for workshops are most likely to love the Reel Screens power option, which is a real show-stopper. Managed by remote, the screens march into place at the touch of a button, soundlessly ascending or descending to open or close the space or soften the sunlight.

Being able to open doors, windows, porches and verandahs to fresh air is consistent with a stated mission of Reel Screens—to be energy efficient.

“The best energy you save is energy you don’t use,” said Bailey. “If you don’t have to run your heat or air conditioning, you feel better and you save money.”

Saving the customer money has also been high on the list of priorities for Reel Screens and, along with the general economy, it’s one of the reasons that prices for the entire line have stayed steady over the past three years. The housing sales slowdown has actually benefitted Reel Screens sales as homeowners have turned their attention to home improvement.

Sun City especially has been a growth market for Schoeppe, who says that reasons for power screen installations vary from artists and those who tinker with cars—both of whom need retrofitted garage space that’s open to ventilation—to guys with “mancaves” complete with “kegerators” whose spouses prefer they enjoy the great outdoors on their own.

In most cases, the concept of Reel Screens sells itself. Homeowners love the ease and convenience, spouses see the value, artists see the practicalities, mancave guys get to see the great outdoors.

Everybody wins.


Call Eric Schoeppe at 843.422.1789 for more information on Reel Screens.

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