Jim Tortorelli walks through his 300,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and points out an employee by name.
“I brought him from California,” Tortorelli said. “He’s the best color matcher there is.”
Tortorelli, co-chief executive officer of American Home Products LLC, recently brought 216 jobs to Gainesville with the consolidation of the company’s east coast operations in a new location on Palmour Drive.
American Home Products is the holding company of The Louver Shop and Danmer Custom Window Coverings, making window blinds, shades and shutters.
“I own a shutter company in Los Angeles called Danmer, and we’re the largest shutter company in the western United States,” Tortorelli said. “I wanted to get an East Coast presence, so I put offers on a couple smaller companies.”
Tortorelli said his initial joint venture with a company out of Ellijay fell through.
“So I said, ‘All right, I’m tired of mucking around. Who are the biggest guys on the East Coast?’” he said. “That was The Louver Shop.”
The Louver Shop opened in 1972. Tortorelli opened an office in Dahlonega, but decided to consolidate a few locations and open the larger facility in Gainesville.
Tortorelli said the company struggled a little during the Great Recession, but it was still doing well when he purchased it in 2011.
“They weren’t very big at the time,” he said. “But I’ve tripled the size of the business in four years.”
Today, Louver Shop has East Coast operations stretching across half the country.
A map of the U.S. fixed to a whiteboard in the Gainesville office has a red line drawn down the middle of the country, with the eastern portion covered in multicolored lines, stretching as far as Boston, Detroit and Minneapolis.
Both Danmer and The Louver Shop are industry leaders in the window covering business and have been manufacturing “American” products since the 70s.
“It’s been a great business,” Tortorelli said. “It’s American-made stuff. We’re able to manufacture in the United States because we implement lean manufacturing processes. We have a quick delivery time. If you want it from China, you can get it and it’s cheap. But it’s five, six, seven weeks. We have a two-week delivery time.”
The new Gainesville building includes nearly 270,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 35,000 square feet of office space. Approximately 140,000 square feet are devoted to the custom window coverings, while Tortorelli leases additional manufacturing space to other local companies.
“We’re only using about 60 percent of it now,” he said. “So there’s plenty of room for expansion.”
The company held its official grand opening Thursday evening in conjunction with the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Business After Hours.
Tortorelli said the move to Gainesville was great for a number of his Dahlonega employees, who already lived in Hall County. The move also created 88 brand new jobs in the community.
“Gainesville was just a great business platform,” he said. “I loved the fact that the city was welcoming, the Chamber was welcoming. I had a lot of people who were like-minded to me that want to grow businesses. ... Between Philip Wilheit, ‘Big Jim’ Walters and Jimmy Adams, it was just a great, great feeling I got in Gainesville.”