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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Dirt: Women-owned company fills niche market

A growing number of customers are seeking the help of a Spokane window-coverings company to improve the look of their homes but also to save on energy costs, the company spokeswoman said.

On Monday, workers at Fabric Works LLC will open their new location near Five Mile Prairie to sell Hunter Douglas-brand products. This comes after operating 23 years at their previous location where they sold a wider variety of brands.

The Hunter Douglas Gallery Showroom, at 814 West Rosewood Ave. will give customers the opportunity to see the product and interact with the experts, office manager Kat Warnock said.

“We used to sell different brands,” Warnock said. “But when it comes to quality and service, there is nothing better in the market.”

Though the top-of-the-line company offers blinds to meet any look, they also are good for the environment.

Because the specially-designed window coverings help insulate windows, homeowners will require less energy to heat or cool down their living areas.

The Hunter Douglas Smart Energy Tax Credit offered by the federal government lets customers earn 30% of the purchase price back, according to a company news release.

“Windows coverings aren’t only aesthetically pleasing but very functional,” Warnock said. “Spokane is an all weather city and windows coverings aren’t very cheap, but they’re a big investment in your home.

The company is owned by Brianne Stretch, who bought it from her aunt three years ago. Since then, they have doubled their all-women staff.

According to Warnock, the growth is a testament to service that keeps customers coming back to do other rooms at their properties but also because service is needed in the niche industry.

“Our customers are really happy to have a showroom where they can see the investment in person,” Warnock said.

In addition to sales, the company provides installation and repairs, which she said are important.

“People try to measure windows themselves and order window coverings online and often have problems with them not fitting right – it’s not as easy as it seems,” Warnock said. “So customers are coming us, rest-assured, they made a great purchase.”

Aero-Flite Inc. expansion plans

Early last month, Spokane-based Aero-Flite Inc. submitted pre-development plans to build a new 100,000 square-foot hangar for maintenance for its growing fleet of airplanes.

Earlier this year, Greater Spokane Incorporated was awarded a $450,000 grant by the Washington state Department of Commerce to help financially support Areo-Flite’s expansion at its headquarters, located at Spokane International Airport.

According to the GSI news release, the company is the largest private operator of large airtanker aircraft in the U.S. The company sends airplanes all over the country to fight wildfires.

After a nation-wide search, the wildfire suppression company located to Spokane in 2014, leasing a World War II-era former military hangar.

According to the permit application, the project is estimated to cost $8.7 million.

The contractor of the project is Spokane-based Garco Construction, Inc.

Aero-flight could not be reached this past week for comment.

In a statement released from GSI, Chris Niemann, general manager at Aero-Flite said he is excited to grow in Spokane.

“We are thankful for our partnerships with Spokane International Airport, Greater Spokane Incorporated, the City of Spokane, and the State of Washington,” Niemann said. “We believe that our growth will benefit the local economy while allowing us to continue providing critical aerial firefighting capabilities to the state.”