Sunday, May 15, 2011

Proctor Drapery and Blinds

It would probably be helpful for you to know we live in an old, abused house. There really is no end to the hours and money you could spend to fix it. So we live with it and love it (most days) and attempt one little project at a time to try to make some improvement.

Last year was the year to turn Micha's ghetto room into something less depressing. We scraped and painted and patched. It looked good. But a year later we still hadn't added window shades. I just kept procrastinating.

We'd done it before, I knew the drill: Go to the big store, wander about looking for someone to help us, pick up samples, bring them home, decide what shade of wood would match, measure the windows, go back to the big store a few days later, wander around again trying to find someone to take the order. I only have 45 minutes and the person who takes the order is out to lunch and won't be back. So leave and find a time to go back to the big store another day, finally the order is placed. Wait. Go back again, bring the shades home, skeptically hoping all the measurements were accurately taken, recorded and cut, and that we have all the parts and screws and brackets. Wait again until Bill or Will have time to install the shades after finding what ever tool or part is needed.

And hope everything is there and works because if it isn't or doesn't, it means going through the whole process again.

Is it any wonder I procrastinated for a year?

But this time I didn't go to the big home supply store. I googled 'window blinds' and found to my surprise a neighbor. There was a listing for Proctor Drapery and Blinds in Maplewood, just three or four blocks from our house

It wasn't a showroom, Mr Proctor works out of his home; he would come by tomorrow with samples and take the measurements for us! I am liking this already!

And in a couple of weeks he would be back to install them,

and he would have all the parts,

correct measurements,

and every needed tool in his handy tool belt.

He also took the extra time to fabricate an end piece for the valance, an option not even offered at the other store. It makes the window look so "finished"!

Not only that...a guarantee! If there is ever a problem, call him personally; and he will personally be back to replace the shades or fix them.

When Michael came the next day I learned he began working in the business of window treatment when he was 14 years old. His uncle owned his own business and welcomed his young nephew to work and learn with him. At 18 he was able to join his Dad who worked for a larger drapery company.

"Can you believe it," he said, "at 18 I had my own truck and was going into people's houses doing the whole job? Couldn't happen today, it was a different time."

At one point in his life he wanted to be a lawyer. He was so committed to the idea, he studied and passed the LSAT, but didn't get a lot of encouragement so decided to stay with the window business. He opened his company, Proctor Drapery, in 1974.

I wanted to ask him if he was sorry, did he regret taking the path less traveled? I loved his honest, hardworking choice to be of service to people in this very tangible way. I loved the authenticity and sincerity he brought into our home.

I couldn't quite get my self to ask the question, I didn't want to hear he had always wished he had become a lawyer. While I was pondering, he volunteered he was very happy with the choice he made. "I love what I do" he said with enthusiasm , "I wouldn't have done anything differently." Hurray Mr. Proctor!

Like so many truly skilled craftsmen there are very few to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Proctor. His ability has developed over years of hands-on experience. He has a body of knowledge that simply has not been passed along to the next generation. The new guys know what has been in style for the last 10 or 15 years, but ask them to re-string a traverse rod and you'll get a blank stare, or hang shades in a complicated window, they just can't do it.

During our conversation he mentioned he went to Berkely High School here in St. Louis and that many of his classmates have become quite financially successful. He reflected, "We didn't grow up with much, so we learned to work hard." Mr. Proctor certainly shares that work ethic and has worked very hard to build a solid contributing business in the St. Louis area. His company has the capacity to treat the windows of huge commercial enterprises, the expertise to handle the most challenging windows in town and the time to give equal attention to my two little windows in an old house in Maplewood.

1 comment:

  1. Jo Ellen, thanks for reviewing Michael Proctor. We were able to use some of your photos on his new website!