Blind ambition: Budget Blind owners, Buckley & Laura Armacher, find a new home for their business | TheUnion.com

Blind ambition: Budget Blind owners, Buckley & Laura Armacher, find a new home for their business

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union

For 15 years, customer service has been their foundation. Now they finally have a building.

Buckley and Laura Armacher, owners of the Grass Valley franchise of Budget Blinds, have long worked out of their home. Last year, they bought a building near downtown Grass Valley, and they couldn't be more thrilled.

"We were working sometimes until 10:30 at night," said Buckley. "It's way too easy to keep working when your business is at home. Finally, when we walk away from here at the end of the day, we're away from work."

The couple had an office in their home near Cedar Ridge, rented showroom space at a downtown carpet store, and used an offsite receiving center.

"Now everything is all in one spot," said Laura. "It's wonderful."

With 1,200 franchise stores, Budget Blinds is an international company that sells more blinds than any of its competition.

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"It's the strength of the company with 1,200 franchises that gives us our exceptional prices," said Buckley. "We combine the buying power of a large corporation with the customer service of a small, locally-owned and operated business."

'We sell service'

Simply stated, the Armachers sell and install custom window coverings, but that's just a starting point.

"Anyone can sell blinds, but we sell service," said Buckley. "We go into a person's house or office and educate them rather than sell to them. Customers always say, 'Others have tried to sell me blinds but no one told me all the information you're giving me.' We want them to buy informed."

"We like to help them design the right treatments, whether for sun exposure or keeping the home warm in winter, or adding a pop of color," said Laura. "It's important because their home is their sanctuary."

Lisa Cowden said she appreciated Laura's interior design advice in February when choosing blinds for her new home in Nevada City.

"The colors Laura helped me select are perfect," said Cowden. "Her design knowledge is great. They measured all my many different- sized windows, educated me on the options, and installed all the blinds perfectly even though some were tricky. It was great, pain-free, trouble-free customer service."

Prompt service and Budget Blinds' favorable reviews online drew Denise Calef of Lake Wildwood to become a Budget Blinds customer last month.

"I was looking for a local company that handled shutters," said Calef. "I found their website with their 4.9 out of 5 Facebook rating and sent an email. The next day Buckley came out, did measurements, and showed us samples. Very few companies respond the very next day. Buckley got everything perfect. It was a great experience. Their work was outstanding and very professional."

Blind devotion

During the past 15 years, the Armachers have sold and installed close to 90,000 window treatments, from Cool to Truckee and everywhere in between.

After so many years of working 11-hour days, what this couple doesn't know about blinds probably isn't worth knowing.

In an ironic twist, their blind devotion to blinds played a role in the purchase of their new showroom and offices.

In 2006, the business then operating at 310 Colfax Avenue hired the Armachers to install shutters and blinds. Buckley went home that night and told Laura he thought the building would be perfect for their business.

More than a decade later, the Armachers were called to install blinds in a house that was owned by the owners of the Colfax Avenue building.

"We agreed on a price and bought it July 1 of last year, then moved here in October," said Buckley, adding that the building is receiving a facelift that includes corrugated tin siding that will complement Grass Valley's historic charm.

"While we love our new offices, our business model remains focused on the free in-home consultation," said Laura. "We meet customers at their home or office, take measurements, and help customers select the right products at the right price. That's what we do. We want to go to them."

Business beginnings

The couple met on the shores of Bullards Bar Reservoir in 1995. Both avid water skiers, they quickly became friends and eventually married in 2002.

He lived with his children in Grass Valley and worked for Federal Express. She lived with her children in Los Angeles and worked in information technology.

For 11 years, they took turns commuting between Grass Valley and Los Angeles until Laura's children were out of school.

"We began looking for a business we could operate out of Grass Valley," said Laura. "We wanted a business where there was no heavy lifting because we figured we'd be doing it until we retired."

"We looked at many businesses," said Buckley, "until something happened that I call divine intervention."

One evening in 2003, he was patiently deleting 56 spam emails on his computer. All except one.

"Something in the back of my head said, 'Don't erase that one,'" recalled Buckley. "The subject was, "Franchise Opportunity." It was the only time Budget Blinds emailed a solicitation for franchise owners, and I was the only one who responded to it."

The couple met with Budget Blinds officials in Los Angeles and later hired lawyers and accountants to review contracts and paperwork.

"We liked the Budget Blinds culture," said Laura. "It's very family-oriented."

In fact, all three of Buckley's children worked in the business while attending Nevada Union High School, then went on to their own careers.

"We have the best crew of employees," said Buckley, referring to their two sales people, one installer, and one administrative assistant. "We consider them family. We've taken them with us on vacation to Mexico. Every Christmas, we buy our installer an airline ticket so he can be with his family in North Carolina."

"Now that we have a new home for our business and our dream team in place," said Laura, "we look forward to giving more back to our community that we feel so fortunate to be a part of."

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. To suggest a business news feature, contact her at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.

BUSINESS BASICS

WHO: Owners: Buckley and Laura Armacher

WHAT: Budget Blinds of Grass Valley

WHERE: 310 Colfax Avenue, Grass Valley

INFO: Call 530-274-1122 or visit BudgetBlinds.com/Grass” target=”_blank”>Valley”>BudgetBlinds.com/Grass Valley for more information

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