Suffolk Business Awards: Family values and teamwork secure award for Caribbean Blinds

Caribbean Blinds Ipswich outdoor living space

As people spent more time at home in the pandemic, demand for Caribbean Blinds' outdoor living and solar shading products boomed - Credit: Caribbean Blinds

Sudbury-based Caribbean Blinds was named Scale-up Business of the Year at the 2021 Suffolk Business Awards. “The pandemic made it tough for businesses across the board, so winning this award is a boost for the whole team, who have put their blood sweat and tears into Caribbean Blinds,” says MD Stuart Dantzic.

Stuart Dantzic MD of Caribbean Blinds

Stuart Dantzic says the award is a tribute to the hard work of the Caribbean Blinds team - Credit: Caribbean Blinds UK

“It was a great team effort and this award is for all of them. They have put in the hours and reaped the rewards. It’s great to be recognised by our peers and see what we have achieved, with so many amazing businesses around us.”

Caribbean Blinds collect the Scale-up Business of the Year award in the Suffolk Business Awards

Caribbean Blinds not only survived the pandemic but also grew, earning the Scale-up Business of the Year award at the Suffolk Business Awards - Credit: Matthew Potter Photographer and Videographer

The firm’s success has not gone unnoticed. “We have had really great support from local press as well as the trade press, who published news of our win - and of course we have promoted this across our social media channels,” Stuart explains.

“Customers have commented and been really positive,” he says. “I think this kind of win reinforces to the team and to our customers that we are doing the right thing, taking the family business in the right direction and are here to stay.”

The award, sponsored by Ashtons Legal, is all the more impressive given the challenges posed by what Mr Dantzic describes as a “perfect storm” of a boom in demand for the firm’s outdoor-living and solar-shading products colliding with raw-material shortages and spiralling costs. 

Caribbean Blinds Antigua external roller blind

External roller blinds can keep rooms cool - and improve security - Credit: Caribbean Blinds

“By keeping communication channels clear and open, we managed expectations and really have to thank all of our clients - from trade installers to the end user - for their trust and understanding during these exceptional times,” Stuart says.

The challenges of 2021, he says, highlighted the importance of being ready for anything and being agile enough to adapt. “If you dig deep, there is always a solution,” he says. “I have seen how a team can pull together to make things work. 

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“We are a family business, run on a strong set of core values. We ensure the employees understand who we are, what we do (our visions and values), the role they play and their importance to enabling the company to achieve its goals and for everyone to succeed.

“This year has taught me that these core values hold fast, even when things get tricky. No matter what we face as a business, we are strong together,” he concludes.

Caribbean Blinds Hemel Hempstead outdoor living pod

A new showroom in London's Canary Wharf will promote products like the Hemel Hempstead deluxe outdoor living pod - Credit: Caribbean Blinds

As the Scale-up Business of the Year award confirms, Caribbean Blinds is going from strength to strength. It is bringing a brand-new product to the DIY market and has a new office opening in Canary Wharf. 

Back in Sudbury, it is also adding a 10,000 sq/ft extension to the current facility and has invested heavily in its processes, including staffing, along with overstocking raw materials to ensure nothing will disrupt production for the 2022 season. 

Worker at the Caribbean Blinds factory in Sudbury, Suffolk

Caribbean Blinds is increasing capacity with a 10,000sq-ft expansion of its Sudbury factory - Credit: Caribbean Blinds

“In 2021 we had to absorb all cost increases, to support our trade installers and help them grow while maintaining healthy margins,” says Stuart. “This means there will inevitably be price increases in 2022 but these will be kept to a minimum.”

Moving forward, Mr Dantzic aims to make sure every aspect of the business is growing and developing in parallel, to ensure scalability. “My brother Brad and I have an ambitious strategy to more than double the size of the company by 2025 to in excess of £10m turnover,” he says. "Currently we are on track to do so.”

For other businesses looking to grow in a similarly impressive fashion, he has some advice. “Be consistent in your messaging, with honesty and integrity at the foundation of everything you do,” he says. “Welcome feedback – successful companies grow by acting on constructive feedback, improving products and/or services based on this.

“Suffolk is a really strong business hub - so use it! Network with like-minded businesses and opportunities and potential partnerships will arise. Your message will reach a wider audience, enhancing and widening your reputation.”

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