Jane Quartel | Halcyon Shades

In 2006, Halcyon Shades was owned by a global conglomerate located in St. Louis, for whom I was working, and was manufacturing its products in Virginia. The decision was made to move this Shade business, that I was leading, to Mexico in order to take advantage of lower wage rates. Halcyon was relocated in Puebla, Mexico, but it did not take long to realize that this was a mistake. While the workers were outstanding, freight costs for materials in and products out of Mexico made the operation unprofitable and unmanageable. Halcyon’s parent company sought to shut it down. I came home one night to tell my husband I would be looking for another job soon. And he said that would not happen because we were going to buy that company. I was quite shocked, but that is exactly what happened.

Despite the stock market crash in September 2008, Habitata, a local building supply company my husband owned, was able to locate investment funds to buy Halcyon Shades, a business larger than its own. Within a month, Habitata’s partners located an old grocery store in an urban renewal zone, fitted it out as a shade factory, hired and trained workers and moved all of Halcyon’s materials and equipment 4,000 miles from Mexico to St. Louis, while still fulfilling its order commitment to the customers of Lowe’s, Home Depot, and its own network of dealers across the country. Since then, Habitata/Halcyon has improved quality 80%, reduced order-to-delivery times by half and set a new standard for customer service.

Habitata is an equal opportunity employer and has hired mentally disabled employees, veterans, newly released felons and chronically unemployed people from the St. Louis area as a matter of ordinary hiring practice. In its young life, it has already paid millions of dollars in wages and taken the Halcyon brand to new heights.

They called it McRee Town and it was one of the worst neighborhoods in the St. Louis metro area. Crime was rampant and the buildings were vacant or falling down. The City of St. Louis basically flattened the neighborhood and started over. It is now called Botanical Heights and it is a model of urban renewal. Halcyon Shades chose to put its manufacturing facility in this neighborhood because it wanted to make a difference. It repurposed an empty old grocery store and turned it into a factory, storage facility and offices. We are proud to be a part of this renaissance.

We love our city, our neighborhood and the entire community of investors, managers, employees that makes Halcyon Shades possible. At Halcyon Shades we think that companies can do more than make money. They can be a good neighbor and a community resource in troubled times and prosperity.