SHANNON • Hunter Douglas, a global maker and distributor of windows blinds and coverings, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and employees of the company’s facility in the Tupelo Lee Industrial Park South had their own party Tuesday.
“We’ve had a lot of success not only corporate-wide, but here in Lee County,” said General Manager Mike Robinson, a 25-year veteran of the company. “We were one of the first businesses out here in the industrial park, and I guess now we’re the oldest business out here. It’s been a very evolutionary business like so many others, and we’ve changed with the times as well.”
The 324,000-square-foot plant opened in 1985 in the Tupelo Lee Industrial Park South in Shannon. Originally designed as a warehouse at 150,000 square feet, the facility has expanded three times and includes assembly, painting and coil lines. It produces steel and aluminum rail profiles for the company’s wide variety of window covering products made by the company across North America. The facility in Shannon also supports other Hunter Douglas plants throughout the U.S. and serves as the company’s main distribution center for the continent.
Hunter Douglas North America has 40 offices, 30 divisions and 12,000 employees. The Shannon facility employs about 130.
“We’ve had processes come and go, and we’ve done different things the company has asked us to do and we’ve implemented them,” Robinson said. “Everybody here has participated in that, and it’s been very key in making Hunter Douglas very successful.”
Hunter Douglas was founded in 1919 by Henry Sonnenberg, who opened a machine shop in Germany, In 1946, the company relocated to the U.S. in a joint venture with Joe Hunter to start production of aluminum blinds. The merged company would become Hunter Douglas. It expanded into Europe in 1960. Today, its international headquarters is in Rotterdam, while its U.S. headquarters are in New York.
“Our focus now as it always has been is customer-focused,” Robinson said. “We continue to be integral in what the company does in the United States, because we are the main distributor for Hunter Douglas goods in North America.”
The Shannon facility also has several long-time employees, and the average tenure there is 15 years.
“That’s really good for a manufacturing company,” Robinson said. “It shows that Hunter Douglas treats its people well and they don’t want to leave.”
The plant also is a seven-time Hunter Douglas President’s Safety Award winner. The award was first given out in 2006, which means the Shannon facility has won half of them over that period.