For the past 30 years, led by Mike Heisenberg and a team of dedicated and pro-active employees, Expert Shutter Services has set the bar for hurricane shutter repairs, replacements, installations, manufacturing and design. With a focus on innovation and an emphasis on continual improvement, the family-owned business has gone from a small repair service with one employee to a leader in hurricane shutter technology and design with 75 full-time employees. Heisenberg shared the story behind Expert Shutter Services' journey from humble beginnings to being recognized as an industry leader by colleagues, competitors, customers and now as a 2018 Florida Companies to Watch honoree by the statewide economic development organization, GrowFL.
"Before I started Expert Shutter Services, I was working for another shutter company in West Palm Beach," he said. "I actually helped form and start that company from scratch. I was only an employee, but I worked just as hard as an owner. We built it up to $750,000 in yearly sales. Over time, I started thinking about going off on my own. I was confident in my abilities, I had support from my family and I saw a tremendous opportunity to start my own business just to the north of West Palm Beach. That's how I ended up on the Treasure Coast."
When Heisenberg first started the business, he only focused on repair work. Over time, he started installing and eventually manufacturing shutters. As you might expect from a forward-thinking entrepreneur, Heisenberg was constantly thinking of new ideas and concepts for shutter improvement. As such, the company began developing new products, some of which hold multiple patents and have set new industry standards.
"The success we've had with designing and developing new products has a lot to do with my beginnings in repair and installation work," he said. "By getting my hands dirty, I developed a really unique perspective of the products. The development and implementation of these innovative products is really what's at the core of our success."
Much of Expert Shutter Services' success can also be attributed to its strong focus on workplace culture. With a heavy emphasis on creating a positive, innovative and growth-oriented atmosphere that focuses on personal development and encourages employees to make improvements where they see fit, they've developed a very well-rounded workforce. "We want them to grow as people as well as employees," Heisenberg said. "As a result, they will feel more ownership and pride in who they are and what they do."
Aside from the strong workplace culture and the innovative nature of its origin, Expert Shutter Services brings a tremendous amount of value to its customers by delivering best in-class products at very competitive prices. As Heisenberg explained, the reliability and consistency of the company's products have, not only earned the trust of homeowners in hurricane prone areas, but also garnered the attention and respect of industry powerhouses worldwide.
"We had two direct hits from hurricanes back in 2004 and 2005," he said. "Then we dealt with Matthew and Irma in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Through all those storms, we had no failures in our shutter systems. To see the shutters we've installed on tens of thousands of homes and condos hold up is very rewarding. It confirms we're doing something right and it gives our customers peace of mind knowing they have a storm protection system in place that's going to do its job.
Keeping a Competitive Edge
"On a global level, we have licensing agreements with companies in France, Germany and England to produce the same rolling shutter system we've developed here. To keep our competitive edge, we're always going back to the drawing board and developing new products that are stronger and less-expensive to produce. We've recently implemented two high-tech saws along with optimization software to give us a 98% yield on our materials. Our wholesale customers enter their orders on their computers, which then go to our computers and eventually to the saw's computers. The accuracy is beyond what anyone is doing."
Mike Heisenberg and his team at Expert Shutter Services were recently recognized by GrowFL as a Florida Companies to Watch honoree. Florida Companies to Watch celebrates growing second-stage companies headquartered in Florida that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace with innovative strategies and processes, making them “worth watching.” Heisenberg shared what it means to be a Florida Companies to Watch honoree and why he believes Expert Shutter Services was selected.
"It's a tremendous honor," he said. "It's also one that Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie County and the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County has picked up on and celebrated. It means a lot to me personally, but it's also an honor that acknowledges that our employees are doing meaningful work. This award, along with our strong emphasis on employee development and practice of sharing great customer feedback with our employees, will help us to further strengthen our culture.
"As far as why we were selected, it has to do with everything. From developing new products to operational efficiencies to community involvement, we're always striving to be better and it shows in everything we do. We're dedicated to our employees, customers and to ourselves to become bigger and better. Our wages are at or above the county average, our benefits are excellent and our innovative approach helps to maintain our strong position in the market."
Looking ahead, Heisenberg and team have their sights set on the security door industry for commercial applications. According to Heisenberg, that industry is seeing an annual growth rate of 19%. They're also getting ready to start their new five year plan, something they re-evaluate and re-set every five years. The plan will focus on more management training and plotting a direction that ensures future growth is aggressive yet sustainable.
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
What advice does Heisenberg have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Do your homework, be courageous, do everything with integrity and go for it," he said. "Don’t let an opportunity pass you by. You don’t want to look back and say you missed an opportunity."
Notable Community Support
Community has always been important to Expert Shutter Services through their support of a number of charities in St. Lucie County, including the ALS Association, March of Dimes, Salvation Army of Martin County, Salvation Army of St. Lucie County, Wounded Warrior Project, Habitat for Humanity, Good Samaritan Ministries and several youth athletic leagues. Three years ago, the company witnessed ten men from the Good Samaritan Ministries riding in the back of a dump truck as this was their only way to get to and from their job sites, rain or shine. Seeing a need and jumping in to address it, the company bought and donated a twelve passenger van for them.