Industrial Louvers Inc.

During the last 40 years, Industrial Louvers Inc. (ILI) has learned how vital it is to embrace changes in the industry. Wooden louvers may date back to the Middle Ages and sunshades are as old as the branches of the oldest tree. But for modern-day needs, those ancient forms of wind, rain and sun protection do not always suffice.  Materials and technologies have evolved dramatically over the decades and ILI has evolved, as well, in order to meet consumer needs.

“The companies that can provide design solutions will continue to increase in value to building owners,” ILI President Jo Reinhardt states. “We have made it our mission and vision to provide the highest-quality products, custom design solutions and exceptional service.”

To keep with this mission, the company founded in 1971 is upgrading its finishing line that was originally added nearly 30 years ago. “In 1984, we added a finishing line to our facility here to do architectural coatings on our product,” Reinhardt says. “Over the years, technology has changed, and it’s time for us to upgrade and change that. We are going with a new conveyer line, new booth and spray-application equipment. It’s going to create some additional efficiencies and will increase our capacity, as well.”

Improvements like this will strengthen the company’s portfolio as it responds to the market’s ever-evolving trends, especially those relating to climate change and sustainability. ILI is dedicated to identifying strategies and technologies to improve existing products and develop new products. When Reinhardt’s father, James Sterriker, founded the company, louvers and vents were its main offering. Today, it has expanded to include sun-control devices, equipment screens, decorative grilles and column covers.

Adapting to Environment

ILI can provide 100 percent customizable sunshades, and these “sun-control devices” have become one of its biggest growth areas. “We have been doing sunshades since the mid-90s,” Reinhardt says. “It’s really taken off in the past several years. Prior to that you would only see it in Sunbelt areas, but now it’s all over the country. They can be installed along the roofline of the building, mounted over a window or entry.” The extruded aluminum product can be manufactured to any blade, fascia and outrigger specification. The increase in sun shade demand has come as many building owners and architects include sustainability and LEED standards in their construction projects. ILI has embraced this shift for its customers and itself. Through thoughtful design and integration of lean principles, ILI has the ability to offer products that will help building owners achieve their own sustainable objectives while eliminating waste from the manufacturing process.

For the Courtyard Marriott in Maple Grove, Minn., ILI manufactured a sunshade with tapered flat bar outriggers and extruded air-foil blades. It was finished with a Kynar 500 coating, which is resistant to abrasions, chalking and ultraviolet deterioration. The sunshade sits like a crown at the building’s top, and to further accentuate its unique shape, the contractor, Specialty Systems Inc. of Burnsville, Minn., added decorative lighting that illuminates the sunshade at night. 

Another industry trend is the improved performance of louvers. “The improvement in louvers has to do with the changing climate and more super storms happening in the hurricane coastal areas,” Reinhardt explains. “So there’s been a great demand to provide better protection. Louvers, when you get right down to it, are still a hole in the wall, but no one wants environmental elements entering their building.

“There’s been a lot of research and development to provide hurricane-proof louvers,” Reinhardt continues. “They undergo pretty stringent testing to make sure they can withstand in excess of 100-mile-per-hour winds and impact testing from a two-by-four missile to test that the louvers don’t fall apart and add to the flying debris.”

The strength of these products is matched by the strength of ILI, which still boasts some of its original employees. Reinhardt says in this value-added-driven market, customer service has become a key factor to stay a leader in this industry. “To stand out we know we need to provide a very high-quality product and a very excellent level of service,” she says. “Our employees are really dedicated to making that a differentiating factor for us.”

ILI is brought to market by an experienced network of independent regional representatives who provide the company with product requests, the company says.

Honest Partners

The company also maintains that type of relationship with core vendors and partners. Reinhardt says that open communication is key to growing positive bonds in this business. “We concentrate on developing good relationships,” she says. “It really has to do with good communication – frequent and accurate communication. In addition, we have a great relationship with our union shop which helps define us, our commitment to service and the quality of our products.” ILI’s key partners include Sheet Metal Workers Local 10.

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