Marygrove Awnings Co.

How We Manage to Keep Our Family Business Up and Running for over 80 Years

Mike Falahee

The company earns $1.8M per year.

Mike Falahee

Marygrove Awning Co. was founded by my grandparents over 80 years ago. For over eight decades, the company has been a resource for the finest and ready-to-install awnings and facades for homes and businesses all over southeastern Michigan, Chicago and Ohio. All of our products are conceived and designed with strict adherence to the highest standards of quality, and we are proud to state that many of our innovations in awning design have set the pace for the rest of the industry. We manufacture everything in-house — from engineering and design to metalwork and fabrication, to cutting and sewing and printing. We offer you one-stop convenience for any and all of your awning and facade needs.

Marygrove Awnings Co. Mike Falahee

I grew up in the family business so I learnt the ropes from a young age, and developed and rose through the business to become the owner and CEO. We continue to finance the business using the funds from the years of business and have reinvested them wisely. We use a combination of family investment and loans to ramp up the marketing and inventory storage so that we could gain more sales and satisfy more orders in shorter turnaround time.

Our target demographic are 33-55 years old males, middle management level, high school education.

Any tips for finding first employees?

Hire on culture as well as experience/skills, as you can easily teach the latter whereas the former is where you find the best performing employees.

Did you run any companies prior?

This has been my sole for-profit company, although I have been the treasurer for the local sports club. This assisted in helping me learn more financial matters, as well as draw on the experience of the workings in a different industry.

What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?

The real test of your management comes when things aren’t going so well. Everyone can be a great boss when the grass is green, it is when trouble strikes you are tested and show your true colors as a manager.

This business has been running for over 80 years, and I don’t want to be the one responsible for it failing. The history used to weigh down on me, but now I look forward to taking this company to its 100 year anniversary, and this drives me every day, week, month and year. My advice to anyone is don’t be afraid to ask for help and recruit people who are better than you at certain things. Pride comes before a fall, and by asking for help you bring a sense of humility to your management and show that you too are willing to learn. People have been there and done it before, their advice can be invaluable.

Marygrove Awnings Product

E-Mail is by far the most profitable for ROI for us. We use email software that categorises our different targets and we send personalised, relevant and timely offers to our prospects. Not being a fashionable industry - social media is a harder medium for us to get sales and interest.

The biggest hurdle is the size of the market, we can only serve a certain amount of the market, and the awnings market becomes saturated, with an increase every couple of years as they start to wear out.

How do you protect yourself from competition?

We track our competitor’s social media, website and email (signed up with a personal account) each month, and we aim to replicate and enhance on their offerings. We also ensure our customer service is on point, as you spend 10x as much getting a new customer as you would do retaining one. Premium importance is placed on our communication.

What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without?

Tradegecko for Inventory Management

Tradegecko features were great and it synced seamlessly with our existing software and our salesandshipping processes. It is so easy to use and the training manuals and demo calls help any new member of customer service and sales staff get up to speed within a few sessions. The training element really cut down on inducting new staff into the systems, and where they or I failed, the customer service reps - over the phone were fantastic in helping our troubleshoot any issues we had.

KronoDesk CRM software

This is an intuitive software that synced well with our existing sales and inventory software. KronoDesk is great when we wanted to implement more advanced tracking and complaint management - the features were very easy to understand and the helpline and customer service was on point and helped us with any issues.

What are your favourite books and podcasts?

Favourite Book

The Idea in You: How to Find it, Build it, and Change Your Life by Martin Amor and Alex Pellew

This is a great book for people to use what they love about their life, their hobbies and passions and turn them into a profitable business. It helps you really pin down what you want and help you get it.

Favourite Podcast

Get it done Guy, A short, less than 10 minute per episode podcast that offers fantastic advice on how to - you guessed it - GET THINGS DONE. The tips are so simple you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of them yourself, but that is where the podcast excels, daily tips that will help you will long term success. Entrepreneurs have to juggle a lot of tasks, any advice that can save time and help you organise better are always welcome.

What are your next steps for Marygrove Awning Co.?

Not so much products, more service areas. We currently serve Michigan, Chicago and Ohio - we are prospecting a few more areas to setup in.

Depending on how successful the next location is , we hope to have 5-6 service areas; this would result in 2x our business revenue.

We would never sell the company because it is more than just a business, it’s family.

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