For a recent project, Insolroll and a design firm worked with a client who wanted shades for sun control and privacy at their urban waterfront residence but didn’t want a closed-in feeling. The designer came up with a concept to capture the feel of the city and waterfront by including a series of silhouettes of sailboats, seagulls, trees, cityscapes and bicyclists on gray translucent roller shades. Insolroll provided the technical support and printed the shades for the project.
In 1980, longtime friends Rick Pease and Dave Friedlander saw an opportunity to pioneer a new market in the U.S. Due to the ongoing energy crises in the 1970s, fuel prices had been high for much of the decade. Government agencies were pushing conservation and offering tax credits for solar and energy-efficiency programs. Both men had experience with building product distribution and installation, and they wanted to use that knowledge to serve the group of builders excited about using the sun to heat homes.
“With $500 in the checking account and a lot of youthful enthusiasm, we started offering high-performance shading solutions and shade automation for the passive solar construction industry,” Pease says.
That decision marked the birth of Insolroll. Pease and Friedlander started by selling insulated shades and solar screens designed to hold in the sun’s heat overnight and keep homes from overheating in the daytime. By 1982, they were making exterior rolling shutters at their facility near Denver. “When the solar tax credits expired in 1985, we found solar screen shades were the perfect fit for us as a technical glare control solution that was missing in many passive solar designs,” says Pease. “In 1986, we manufactured our first patio shade and began distributing Insolroll rolling shutters and patio shades through dealers in the Rocky Mountain region.” The pair also used their technical expertise in solar shades to consult with builders and designers on residential and commercial projects.
Insolroll’s next big milestone came in 1996, when it moved into a larger facility and added interior solar screen and blackout shades to its manufacturing program. “This finally put us in full control of our product quality and service level, and allowed us to grow in the high-end residential and commercial glare control markets,” says Pease. “We saw early growth and picked solar screen shades to become our flagship product 25 years ago while it was still a specialty product.” Today, the company is focused exclusively on interior solar screen shades and patio shades, including Insolroll Solar Shades, Insolroll Elements Roller Shades and Oasis Patio Shades and Retractable Insect Screens.
Founders Rick Pease (l) and Dave Friedlander (r)
Pease attributes much of the company’s success to its 96 employees, several of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years. “Dave and I have built our business with great people and have had very low turnover over the years. Even in tough times like 2008-09 and this year, when we stopped production for a month, we have never had a layoff. Many of our decisions over the years were based on creating opportunities for our employees and having key employees instill the knowledge, experience and passion that made Insolroll successful.”
He also believes that Insolroll’s ability to stay nimble enough to adapt to new opportunities in the industry has helped it thrive. “We like technical products, high-performance solutions and automation,” he says—all things that have done well in recent years.
During his 40 years in the window covering industry, Pease has seen many changes. “We have observed many products, like miniblinds and verticals, come and go through their natural product life cycles,” he says. “Distribution channels have changed significantly, with globalized supply chains, online retailers, big-box stores and specialized healthcare and hospitality distribution channels gaining significant slices of the window treatment industry.”
Like many people, he is looking forward to putting the COVID-19 era in the rearview mirror. “It will be nice to get back to interacting in person with our customers and seeing business get back to normal,” he says. He is also excited to begin promoting two new products the company hopes to roll out this fall. The Insolroll Dual Shade Pocket System is a shade with a smaller-format housing that makes it ideal for inside-mounts on small windows in hospitality projects.
For residential applications, the Oasis 2700 Sun Shade Driven by Lutron (below) will provide a smaller-format motorized shade option. Pease is confident these products will continue the company’s tradition of providing quality products that serve the needs of modern professionals.