HUNTER DOUGLAS, the high-end window coverings company that was founded in the US in 1946* opened its new showroom — called the Hunter Douglas Design Centre — in the Philippines, at Focus Global, Inc.’s headquarters at Twenty Four-Seven Mckinley Building in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

The new showroom has interactive displays on how its products work. These were on show during the showroom’s launch on April 4. One of these is the PowerView Automation booth, that shows how blinds and other Hunter Douglas products can be controlled through apps (a swipe on a screen opens and closes a simulated skylight above the visitor), while another booth shows the capabilities of the Hunter Douglas Duette line to cast a room in total darkness. Other features of the new showroom let customers view their samples against different light settings to see how much light they can block.

Focus Global’s president, Stephen Sy, in an interview with BusinessWorld, discussed how important window treatments are in light of the fact that in furnishing a home, they are usually last on the list. “You want to have some privacy. If it’s your bedroom, you don’t want the sunlight to wake you up. You’re not going to wake up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. If the sunlight shines in, you would be awakened,” he said.

The window treatments sell well — even though some of the items we saw cost upwards of P70,000 — and Mr. Sy credits this to a building boom in the Philippines. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, approved building permits for new constructions came to 11,433 in Jan. 2024. “There’s a lot of construction; condominiums being built,” he said. “We are educating the local consumer and the developers.”

As an example, he told us about SieMatic, a German kitchen cabinets brand they also distribute. Focus Global had found out that an established local developer was using local brands for their units, but after successfully pitching SieMatic to a smaller local developer, the established one saw the quality of the SieMatic cabinets and, not to be outdone, decided to get the same brand.

Noting how often showrooms at Focus Global’s headquarters are changed — invitations come by around once every quarter — Mr. Sy said, “We have to keep it updated. Mahirap na (it would be difficult if we don’t). It will look kind of old, and boring… It’s really necessary, as far as we’re concerned… we need to make it look fresh and new again.”

Mr. Sy’s company started out by distributing the Coleman outdoor-lifestyle brand in the Philippines in the late 1980s, expanding later to kitchen appliances. While they now distribute various high-end furnishing brands in the Philippines (Fendi furniture is one), he said that they began by first distributing Ethan Allen here, and this was because the Sy family couldn’t find furniture here that they liked for their home. They flew to Houston, Texas to shop for furniture and came upon an Ethan Allen sale in the papers. Aside from buying furniture for themselves that week, Mr. Sy also called up their export manager and scored a meeting with the brand’s executives.

“We really choose. We will not just go in and take in any brand,” he said. “If we think this is a good brand… good quality and good name, then we start thinking.” — Joseph  L. Garcia

* Though it had an earlier start as a machine tool manufacturing company in Germany founded in 1919.