KALAHEO — William Bruce Grantham looking up from his desk remembers the day following Hurricane Iwa in 1982.
“The front awning had blown away, the roof was gone,” Grantham said. “All I saw was open sky.”
Grantham was selling furniture at that time, working out of the Garden Island Motors building in Lihue.
“We had Levelor blinds as part of our offering,” Grantham said. “We sold a few, here and there, and I thought I could sell this.”
That thought spawned the birth of Window Trends, which survived two hurricanes and several location changes to its current site in the Rainbow Plaza in Kalaheo.
On Friday, Grantham was in Honolulu to accept the Small Business Administration County of Kauai Small Business Person of the Year award.
“This is quite an honor after being Window Trends for 35 years,” Grantham said.
The owner of the Hunter Douglas line of window fashion and gallery said he never thought about the possibility of being an SBA award winner.
“When Joyce Vidinha of First Hawaiian Bank spoke to me about nominating myself as an SBA Small Person of the Year, I had never thought about it,” Grantham said. “It was only 20 years ago that my wife Nancy was named as an SBA Small Business Woman of the Year for her work in the hotel industry.”
The awards luncheon celebrated National Small Business Week and was one of the events that recognizes top small businesses, individuals, organizations and leaders from across the country who won a competitive nomination and selection process.
Joining Grantham at the Honolulu luncheon, Jerry Ornellas, owner of Agland Management, nominated by Larry Dresslery of the Bank of Hawaii, was honored as the SBA Small Business Advocate for Home Base Business. Former president and executive director of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce, Randall Francisco, nominated by Kamika Smith of Smith’s Motor Boat Service, was honored as the County of Kauai Small Business Advocate.
“After surviving two hurricanes, I realized that the day after the hurricane has to be the most beautiful day with clear blue skies and clean air,” Grantham said. “But after looking up from my office and seeing the sky, it was time to get out of the store.”
Grantham moved into an office offered him by Mel Ventura, developer of the building near Kukui Grove where the Kauai Athletic Club was formerly located.
“I took one person with me from the furniture store and we sold blinds out of the office,” Grantham said. “It was mostly word-of-mouth. The business grew slowly and when a spot opened up behind the Sueoka’s Store in Koloa, we moved there, upstairs of where Nancy was doing hotel work.”
Hunter Douglas approached him in the early 2000s about the possibility of becoming a gallery.
“I thought about it,” Grantham said. “Being a gallery, Hunter Douglas would supply a showroom and supplies, but it was costly. Hopefully, we would get back more than what we put in.”
The Kalaheo location became available and the move was made.
“I was never really trained in window fashion,” Grantham said. “But it’s amazing how much you learn over 35 years. We’ve been to seminars where we learn something each time, many of those things being unique to Hawaii and Kauai.”
Through the 35 years, Grantham said the customer has always been at the forefront.
“We are fortunate that Hunter Douglas shares the same philosophy,” Grantham said. “A few days ago, a customer called expressing concern that a piece had lost its memory. I spoke with Hunter Douglas and they said they would do it over. If they had said there would be a problem, we at Window Trends would have figured out a way to get the problem resolved. The customer is always first.”
Window Trends is located at 2-2514 Kaumualii Highway, Suite 106 in Kalaheo.
The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Info: Call 332-9844.