A Kansas City company helps homeowners make their houses stand out from the neighbors by hand-crafting shutters.
Dave Eidson and Dave Searls started Kansas City Shutter Co. after discovering that the options for homeowners were limited and usually considered disposable. The two men, who also co-own EnergyPro Windows & Siding, wanted to create an alternative that would last.
Eidson explains how they created the custom product and how shutters can be used to improve the look of a home.
Why create a shutter business?
We have been in the window and siding business 12 or 13 years now. We remove the vinyl shutter because it’s in the way of our window installation. Once we removed the shutters, we saw we needed something that looked beautiful on the outside of the house. Most of your options were to buy vinyl shutters or buy the wood and make them yourself. Generally, they didn’t turn out really great over time. There are wood shops in town, but no one had gotten into making custom-built shutters out of woods that were resilient to insects and moisture. We saw an opportunity, hired a guy to fill a shop and fill that market space.
How did you go about creating the product?
We went to many, many neighborhoods in the metropolitan area. We spent weekends driving around and talking to homeowners. We went into midtown, Waldo, Brookside, southern Johnson County and southern Kansas City. We literally got out of the car and talked to people saying, “If we were going to put shutters on your house, what would you like?” We looked at what was out there so we could decide what was trendy for the market, what things were available and what we could do differently.
Who do you find wants the shutters?
Most people inquiring live in a neighborhood where the houses are very similar. They want to accent their homes and stand out. They want something of high quality versus the vinyl shutters or handmade. Doing it yourself is not always the best option. We use aluminum fasteners, and it does not rust. We take a lot of time to make sure it looks beautiful on the first day and attractive from then on.
Where does a shutter look good on a house?
Generally speaking, people put them only on the front. On older homes people consider replacing all of them. Most of the time it’s on the front of the house to beautify the front.
What kind of home looks good with shutters?
There are an unlimited amount of different styles of shutters and homes they can go on. Shutters look good on a focal point of the home, like a garage area with a window by itself or two or three windows on the front that would look plain otherwise. The reason some houses don’t allow shutters is because there are different types of roof lines, and there might not be space. Some homes, like a lot of colonial homes, have shutters already. We find we are replacing vinyl shutters on those homes with good hardwood shutters, not just homes that didn’t have them to begin with.
What would you advise for people considering shutters?
If they have a focal point or want to take the front of the home and change it, shutters can really make a huge difference. We have several shutter types. We also have people who want to design something themselves because they don’t want what other people purchase. We certainly have done and can do that.
Do you ever make functional shutters?
We can do functional shutters. We can include hardware and have a functional pair or pairs on any application. That’s going to be something we do in the older areas, because the houses have those types of shutters to begin with. We can also add hardware, like strap hinges, on the shutters to make them look like they are operable.
And you do it all locally?
We opened in January. We have a shop that is 4,000 square feet. It is set up as a wood shop. We have machinery that was purchased throughout the Midwest. Everything that we have purchased has been local. I hired more people to set this up. We keep adding more equipment to make the process smoother.
How much do shutters cost?
The shutter costs can vary greatly, but will generally be a little less than the cost of the window.