Values are important.  How a company views their customers is important.  Thatcher Retractables manufactures custom retractable awnings made to order for your home.  We offer only high quality fabrics, motors and components that are either made in the US or in Europe.  We do not buy pre-made units from China or other Asian Countries. We do not do gimmicks like LED lights and “As Seen on TV”.  We do not expand into other markets and then leave customers in a lurch when the expansion is no longer profitable.

In this blog, we are going to go into the Wayback Machine and explain how companies can go different directions and end up in very different places.

In 2006, Marygrove Awning supplied Retractable Awnings to Thatcher Retractables.  Marygrove manufactured an awning system whose components came from a French Company called Mitjavelia.  These components systems were very high quality. Additionally, Marygove supplied these frames to us with real Sunbrella Fabric.  Our customers that have units marketed under the EZ Slope name can testify. These retractable awnings were well built with quality components.

With the success of these products, we were very eager and willing to work with Marygove on a new venture.  Marygrove struck a deal to import containers of retractable awnings from China. Boy, we should have known better.  It started with late delivery with the units arriving over a month after they were set to arrive. Thatcher Retractables made good on orders by upgrading customers, because, like I said above, values are important.

The units arrived and so did the problems.  The awnings had a number of “small problems.”  The biggest issue were how the motors and the tubes interacted with each other causing the roller tubes to thump when they rolled in and out.  Even worse, the horrendous “rusty gate” sound that the arms made about a month after installation. After countless emails and phone calls, Marygrove finally admitted that there was an issue, but “it was no big deal.”  There was a spot that needed to be lubricated. To make right once again, Thatcher Retractables sent our service techs out to lubricate the arms and check the motors free of charge to the customers.

After this experience, we discontinued buying frame components from Marygrove and began buying directly from European Manufacturers.  A few years later, Marygrove proposed that we put our purchasing power together and buy motors through one of their suppliers. Once again, the first year was great.  The motors seemed to work well and were priced in-line with the competition. A few years later, we had a wet spring/ summer season. As many as 30% of the motors became inoperable in the field.  When confronted, the response was a lot of gaslighting.

At this point, we terminated our relationship.  We also made a declaration that we were not going to buy any product that originated in China.  The short term benefit of buying a lesser expensive product is never worth the long-term damage to your relationship with your customers.

Now Marygrove Awning is trying to directly market to homeowners in the Chicagoland Area.  You may have seen the Try Marygrove direct mail or the TV commercials they are running during the local news.  Despite the fact that they list “Chicago” as a location on their website, as of the date of this blogpost, Marygrove Awnings has not registered as an Illinois Corporation nor has a location in Illinois.  Through sources in the awning business, Marygrove Awning is training installers from the Champaign-Urbana area to install the awnings they sell in Chicagoland.

As a homeowner, you should know that Chicago is not the first market that Marygrove has tried to expand into out of Detroit.  Both Grand Rapids, MI and Houston, TX were markets that Marygrove Awning was doing business in and now are not. You might want to ask what happens to your warranty and how do you receive service if Marygrove is no longer servicing Chicago.

Several good questions to ask:

  1. Is the reason why Marygrove Awning is trying to sell you 4 sizes and 8 fabric colors because the awnings have been imported from China and are sitting in a warehouse in Livonia, MI?
  2. Since the installation is being subcontracted, will Marygrove provide Certificates of Insurance for Workman’s Compensation and Liability for both Marygrove AND the subcontractor?
  3. What is the agreement on service between Marygrove and the subcontractor for service after the initial installation?  For example, all awning valances eventually need some minor repair. After all, we are in the windy city and you are not going to take your valance down every day.  Or, what happens when your awning needs to be washed or a minor adjustment needs to be made? Do they have a full-time service department to serve you like Thatcher does?
  4. Why doesn’t Marygrove Awning have a local Chicagoland showroom to view products?

Most important, Thatcher Retractables values you as a customer for the long-term.  We have long-term roots in this community. We will never buy product from China. Our components are made either in the US or in Europe (Italy & France), and Sunbrella manufactures almost all domestically sold product in the Carolinas.  As a local Chicagoland Homeowner, you can count on Thatcher Retractables.