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Fireside chat with Mickey Fain, President&CEO of Stoneside Blinds and Shades

Who is Mickey Fain?

Mickey co-founded and serves as President & CEO of Stoneside Blinds & Shades. Prior to Stoneside, Mickey founded and served as CEO of the Colorado CEO Forum for 15 years growing it to over 500 attendees while also serving as chair for several Denver based Vistage CEO groups. Earlier in his career,
Mickey co-founded Smartscan, Inc, a digital mapping firm, and served as president and CEO for 17 years. Mickey has served on several boards and advisory boards including Silicon Mountain Memory, Magnolia Hotels and Aardex. Mickey received his BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas, an MBA from Rice University and obtained his CPA certification.

What’s the story behind Stoneside Blinds and Shades?

Stoneside was co-founded in 2009 by Mickey Fain. The company was created to serve a segment of the window, blinds and shades market that was not being served effectively. Mickey saw an opportunity to leverage the internet, digital marketing, and other key technologies to significantly improve the customer experience. The traditional business model for this industry was for a large brand, such as Hunter Douglas, to sell components to a fabricator who would then sell completed products to a local retail store, who would then sell to consumers. This often resulted in a poor customer experience. By creating their own brand, leveraging technology, selling direct to consumers and an unwavering focus on delivering a great customer experience, Stoneside became the highest-rated national window covering company in America based on customer reviews. Stoneside was also recently rated the best overall custom window covering company of 2021 by Better Homes & Gardens and was recognized as a finalist for the Better Business Bureau’s Large Business of the Year.
Today, Stoneside operates in ten states and 13 major metropolitan markets across the US. Stoneside has been recognized as the fastest growing company in Denver, the second fastest growing company in Colorado and a Colorado Company to watch.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

Like many startups, things didn’t always go exactly as planned – they almost never do. Even though we thought we had been conservative in our plans, most things still took longer than expected and therefore burned more cash. As a result, we were often in a cash crunch in the early days. On one occasion, we had to lay off several employees right before Christmas to survive. This was tough.
However, as each challenge arose, we focused on the things we could control, let go of the things we couldn’t and came up with creative solutions to the obstacles we faced.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

I am most proud of our culture, our values and the difference we’re making in people’s lives. Our purpose is to provide a five-star experience to our team members, clients, partners, and community.
Our values are honesty, positivity, generosity, continuous improvement, and passion. We really live by these values. We use our values in hiring new team members, we talk about them often and use them in our decision making. Our commitment to our mission and our values has allowed us to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and become recognized as #1 in our industry based on customer reviews and recognized by Better Homes and Gardens as the best overall window covering company in America.

What is your vision for the future of Stoneside Blinds and Shades?

Our vision for the future is to continue to leverage technology and continued rapid growth. In the next few years, we will substantially grow our revenues in our current markets, we will double the number of markets we serve, and accelerate our use of technology. Our continued focus on technology will allow us to improve our quality of service, improve productivity and increase our scalability.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

Focus on leveraging technology and enabling flexibility in your business model. Companies that are doing well today are doing so because they have taken advantage of new technologies including the internet and cloud-based computing. Companies that are not doing this are quickly becoming obsolete.
Further, companies that are doing well in this volatile climate have enabled more flexibility in their business models. For example, Stoneside’s business model is based around in-person services. To adapt to the environment the pandemic created, we implemented a virtual process to continue providing a five-star design experience to our customers. Now, we can reach all types of clients – those that would prefer a virtual experience, and those that would prefer to work with us in person.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

  • The internet
  • Video Conferencing
  • Configure, Price, Quote CPQ technology
  • Cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems
  • Could-based VoIP

What books do you have on your nightstand?

  • Start with Why – Simon Sinek
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni
  • The Infinite Game – Simon Sinek
  • Measure What Matters – John Doerr
  • Principles: Life and Work – Ray Dalio
  • Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne
  • The Advantage – Patrick Lencioni
  • Competitive Strategy – Michael Porter

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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