Oftentimes, it is the smallest details that elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary. With fine cuisine, it might come from a pinch of saffron; on the facade of a historic home, it might be the custom-chiseled detail on the cedar shutters or, smaller still, the shutters’ historically authentic hand-forged tiebacks.
To Rick Skidmore, founder, president and CEO of Timberlane Shutters, shutters are often seen as jewelry for the home. For the past 19 years, his Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania, company has designed and manufactured some of the finest American-made shutters. They grace presidential homes, state buildings, Ivy League colleges, historical estates and regular homes across the United States.
When he was a hobbyist woodworker remodeling an old house, Skidmore looked for a company that made a product that would inspire his own handmade shutters. “When I found none, I saw it as an opportunity and quit my day job,” he says. “We started with custom-built cedar shutters, our flagship product, but over the years, we’ve diversified a bit.”
Along with premium wood, Timberlane now offers three other lines of shutters they manufacture in their 80,000-square-foot facility. The Fundamental line is a basic fixed shutter for the budget-conscious, Advantage offers classic beauty and style options, while the state-of-the-art Endurian line mimics the look of wood but uses synthetic materials.
“Our Endurian product has a place in many different markets, but specifically in areas susceptible to rot and high humidity, or coastal communities that experience harsh environments,” says Skidmore. “Endurian can work in virtually any application, even in historical renovations, like the H.F. du Pont estate. Review boards might not typically approve a shutter made out of a synthetic material, but they are now seeing the merits of Endurian. It is wonderful for those wishing to reduce maintenance costs over time.”
Maintenance in the shutter world means painting. Paint life varies tremendously depending on the environment, with exposure to heat and moisture taking the greatest toll. “Our paint contains a special solar reflective, like sunscreen,” Skidmore explains. “The sun doesn’t bounce completely back, but you will see a significant reduction. With our Endurian product, you’ll get about a 50 percent reduction in surface temperature, which typically translates into a 50 percent longer paint life than standard paints.”
Today, customers select shutters based on functionality, aesthetics and even their home’s historical context. Skidmore explains that in colonial times each community had its own style of shutters and hinges. Today, he says, the need to conform to a local style has become less important: “We tell customers, unless you are held to really strict standards, be creative. We try to encourage people to let shutters be their personal expression.”
Ordering is a personal experience at Timberlane. “We don’t sell through retailers or dealers,” explains Skidmore. “When you buy a Timberlane shutter, you deal with us directly, either through our website, which is loaded with tools to facilitate the process, or over the phone with us.” Onsite design professionals assist customers in every way, from sending out shutter samples and color swatches to providing resources and tools for installation.
Order turnaround is another point of distinction at Timberlane. “One hundred percent of our shutters are made onsite, so turnaround time is based on when the customer needs the shutter,” Skidmore says. “We also have a commitment to continuity, so the same shutter we sell now will still be available in five years.”
When asked about future plans, Skidmore says: “We live and breathe shutters here. It’s all we do. We could build anything out of wood—kitchen cabinets or furniture—but we’ve made the deliberate decision to maintain our discipline of doing one thing, and doing it incredibly well.”
Michelle Thompson is a writer residing in Mount Pleasant. For more information, visit MichelleMarieThompson.net.