Manufacturing Today
- Page 15
Porter Preston Inc. Specializes in Window Coverings and Positivity (2)

capabilities can exceed 1,000 shades per week.


Fabric arrives in 30-yard rolls and a high-tech machine cuts the fabric into desired widths and lengths. One cut does not fit all! Birtwell explained there are four cutting options: cold cut, crush cut, ultrasonic and laser. The type of cut is determined by the fabric. “Every fabric has its best way of being cut,” he said.


The Key to Keeping Employees


In addition to production workers, Porter Preston has five sales people, customer service representatives and other support teams, employing 32 people in all.


You’ll find diversity, longevity, and good morale in their workforce, which includes people who range in age from late 20s to almost 70. Why? Maybe it’s the company-sponsored outings and periodic happy hours, or the light-hearted pranks played on sales personnel or the sense of humor of the boss.


In the spring, Birtwell treated a group of 22 employees (whoever wanted to go) to tickets and transportation to a Blues Brothers concert, providing them with hats, sunglasses and ties to reflect the Blues Brothers “look.”


Birtwell said he feels that kind of expense does not really affect the bottom line of business, but goes a long way toward investing in the morale of his staff and building camaraderie among employees.


“There’s been very little attrition over the years,” he said, “We like to treat employees well, give them flexibility and responsibility and let people shine.”


Birtwell said that, especially in recent years, the company has adopted a practice of making positivity the number one characteristic they look for in new employees.


“Positive people get along with everyone, and that has contributed to us having the best team of workers for a long time,” he said.


‘A Nice Family Company’


Porter Preston also is implementing the idea of having fellow workers in the department of a potential employee be part of the interviewing process. This not only gets buy-in from the existing employees, but provides a comfort level when the new employee comes onboard.


Ana Casalinova, a 14-year employee, said, “It’s a nice place to work; that’s why we stay a long time.”


Kuntie Dindyal (known as Barbra), who has worked at Porter Preston since 2004, said, “It’s a nice family company. Everyone gets along good.”


Porter Preston is a member of the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce. Birtwell says that while a lot of their business comes from outside the region, he likes to keep the company connected with the local community and enjoys programs and activities the Chamber offers.


For example, after hearing keynote speaker Larry Janesky at the Chamber’s annual meeting and luncheon this year, Birtwell and Metcalfe visited Janesky’s company and were so impressed, they enrolled in his School of Entrepreneurship. Janesky is founder and CEO of Contractor Nation, Basement Systems Inc.


“It’s an amazing business he built,” Birtwell said. “He systemizes everything. We are applying the lessons every day.”


Birtwell and Gilmore are proud of their company and want to make sure their employees are happy.


“It’s about waking up and being satisfied every day,” Birtwell said, “What moves the needle is that they’re still here.”