MAPLEWOOD, New York — After 32 years in the window shade business under the Color Lux brand, Tom Marusak, the 67 y/o founder of the $50 million plus operation, says that Comfortex is now moving into digitally printed draperies, valences and cornices which coordinates with its own line of hard window treatments.
He feels there is another $50 million in sales in the soft window treatment market, especially if Comortex concentrates on the 65,000 plus interior designers in North America.
Comfortex started to digitally print Roman shades, roller shades, cellular and pleated shade fabrics in utra violet inks five years ago using its own wide format printers in its 180,000 square foot plant near Albany, N.Y.
“The company employs 300 people and is taking on more of a design-driven culture due to its thirty-something aged employees,” says Marusak, a former aerospace engineer with a specialty in solar architecture.
Just two years ago, Comfortex started to print three different kinds of polyester basecloths in highly textured faux linen, matte and luster finished sateen and for draperies sourced from Turkish and Asian suppliers. The next step includes sheer fabrics from Turkey and FR fabrics for the contract business.
These digitally printed fabrics are sold to other fabricators for drapery confection.
As a result of the demand for these fabrics, Comfortex has started to print its own fabric lines of licensed and proprietary designs while color coordinating them with its lines of blinds and shades in over 800 colors. Comfortex can even match the fabrics to paint colors if that’s what the customer wants.
“Everything is color harmonized by our in-house designers which include Kate Smith, an internationally recognized colorist,” Marusak explains.
Comfortex is using stationary dye sublimation printers made by Epson to give the fabrics a soft hand.
Of course, it’s not just about the color and the ability to show the finished/layered ensemble featuring a roller shade with a drapery overlay in a virtual format. Comfortex goes the next step by sending a printed sample to the designer within 24 hours. “We don’t want thousands of samples. That’s the old way of doing things,” Marusak says.
“We’re having terrific results with this Color Lux program because we make it easy for the customer and the designer to color coordinate everything and see the finished result before they order,” he adds. John Fitzgerald, Vice President of Marketing is rolling out the program in the U.S. and Canada.
Marusak was part of the recent R+T Fair held every three years in Stuttgart, where he was able to meet many of his dealers from around the world in the 50 countries where he does business. “The Color Lux program is for the USA and Canada initially,” he says. “There may be some opportunity to roll it out internationally.”
Marusak started up Comfortex in 1986 after a stint in the construction business. Customers would complain his glass enclosed rooms were either too hot or too cold so he started to get into the hard window business to regulate the temperature of the rooms he built. One thing led to the other.