October 2017

Your Blind Spot: Budget Blinds ensures that the greatest views in your house aren’t outside

Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

The Budget Blinds Family seated in the showroom in Bluffton
Front Row (left to right) Mary Springer, Adam Clough, Owner Bob Engler, Brendan Ryan and Jessica Brown.
Back Row: Sharon George, Evan Roberts, Christie Linares, Joe Christensen, Josh Lauener and Bill Bradley
Step into the Budget Blind showroom, and you’ll be immediately impressed by two things. First, this place is huge. Stretching across three full storefronts in the sprawling plaza where Simmonsville Road meets 278 in Bluffton, the Budget Blind selection is given room to breathe—a perfect way to browse through the countless options available. The second thing that will impress you is that there are far more to window coverings than you ever thought possible.

Along a freestanding display, a rotation of plantation shutters in teak, hardwood and composite entice you with the possibilities as you reinvent your space. Each window along one wall has been graced by some sterling example of the latest and greatest shades and blinds and everything in between, with remote controls so you can try them out yourself.

And then, along one wall, backlit by LEDs to simulate sunlight streaming through them, an array of different window options is mounted and presented gallery-style like works of art. Each is even accompanied by the same descriptive card to one side you’d find at an art gallery, only instead of “Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889, oil on canvas, 29 × 36¼ inches,” you’ll see “Norman motorized composite plantation shutter, 3 ½-inch louvers, invisible tilt with ring pull, Glacier white.”

“People look at their window coverings one of two ways,” said franchise owner Bob Engler. “They either want it to blend in and do its job so they don’t notice it, or they want to transition their style with their window coverings.”

Throughout this sprawling space, you’ll find plenty of ways to do both. It turns out this massive showroom of the many artistic possibilities you can fill your windows with is unique to Bob Engler’s Budget Blinds franchise.

“The general Budget Blinds concept is not to have a showroom,” Engler said. “The showroom came out almost as a default based on the size we needed, but at the same time it gives us an opportunity to display products. It worked out for us. We wanted it to be comfortable, easy to see, and light and bright.”

It is at that, especially with the storefront on a heavily-trafficked cut through between two immensely popular Bluffton plazas. “Never in a million years did I think we’d get as much exposure as we do. When we moved out here (from Riverwalk), it was us and one other company here. We grew into another, and then three years ago into this space,” he said. It also helps that the location in Bluffton provides easy access to the wide area Budget Blinds services, from Hilton Head to Ridgeland, from Daufuskie to Beaufort. “We’re really spread out; this keeps us somewhat central.”

Forming the backbone of this multi-county empire of beautiful window coverings is a dedicated staff of 14 professionals, from design consultants to installers.

“We depend heavily on our team of professional installers and qualified salespeople to make suggestions on products and explain services and warranties, as well as our people here in the showroom,” said Engler. “Having our own in-house team of installers is a huge benefit. They do this all day every day, and they’re very good at what they do. They’re trained by us, and we’re all certified by manufacturers.”

It’s a far cry from the small operation Engler founded when he left a career as a golf pro in 2006. “I was working six-seven days a week and holidays. I had a young family and wanted to do something different,” he said. That something different was a chance meeting with a business broker who suggested Engler get into the blinds business by purchasing the local franchise rights for Budget Blinds, the national California-based chain.

“We got really lucky there was an available franchise here,” Engler said. “They say timing is everything.”
After a two-week training at Budget Blinds’ corporate headquarters (“It was a trial by fire”), Engler and his wife Kate were on their way. They started out small, with a part-time installer and a temp running the books a few days a week. Kate would use her marketing and advertising background to help get word out, while Engler would handle consultation and installs. And now, 11 years later, Budget Blinds is a team that is helping transform Bluffton, one window at a time.

Budget Blinds’ showroom is located at 880 Fording Island Rd. #8, Bluffton. For more information, visit budgetblinds.com/HiltonHeadIsland or call (843) 837-4060.

What’s Hot?

Want to know what’s going to be gracing this year’s finest windows? Ask the experts.
SMART BLINDS: “The biggest thing now is a push towards blinds and shades without cords: automation, integration with smart home technology, apps that let you adjust your blinds alongside your lighting, security system, etc. It’s not just for million-dollar-plus homes anymore. There are ways you can do it very cost effectively.”

ROLLER BLINDS: “When I first got into it, if you said the word roller shade to somebody, they’d roll their eyes. But with automation, roller shades are making a huge comeback. That’s probably one of the biggest product lines that companies and vendors are constantly updating—whether it’s control options or different motorization systems or fabrics in general. It’s massively different than it was when I first got into the business.”

PLANTATION SHUTTERS: “People look at it as a Southern look. It’s a great insulating product, there are no cords, and they can be configured in different ways so you have some ‘cake and eat it too’ options. We do them in a lot of rentals, because they’re very durable. There’s not a lot you can do to hurt them.”

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