Neon is out. Canopies are in.
One of eastern North Carolina’s premier awning companies continues to evolve and has rebranded itself as Greenville Awning and Canopy, introducing new company logos and signs along with its product offerings. But one thing remains steadfast, founder and general manager Vince Vincent said.
“It’s all about service,” Vincent said. “We do everything we can to make sure it’s the way the customer wants. And if there’s a problem, I tell them, ‘You call us, and we come take care of it.’
“Once you buy it from me, I feel responsible, so we’re going to take care of it. And we get a lot of repeat customers, a lot of word of mouth. I feel like if you sell something, you’ve got a responsibility there.”
Vincent opened Greenville Awning and Neon in 2004 with three total employees and has relocated the business twice, the last time in 2013 to make way for the 10th Street Connector project. He bought the former Van’s Hardware at 4779 N.C. 33 East near Walmart and designed a facility featuring a product display area, office space and a workshop.
Just look for the bright, royal-blue awning.
“I built this in 2013 to be nice facility and to handle any growth that we have,” Vincent said. “I’ve got it filled up right now. We’re blessed. We’re fortunate.
“Sales have been going up for the last four or five years. We’re very excited.”
Greenville Awning and Canopy has tripled its staff to nine employees, including Vincent’s son, Aaron, who plans to come on full time after graduating from East Carolina University in December, and Vincent’s wife, Terri, who handles inside sales along with longtime employee Amy Adams and Sam McKeel.
Customers can visit the store for a consultation and view samples, or Vincent will schedule an appointment to come to a home or business, take measurements, show samples and provide pricing. Production from start to finish is completed in about a month during the summer months when demand peaks.
“Right now in our busy season, about four weeks later you’re going to have your finished product on your house, no matter what it is,” Vincent said. “We’re doing a lot more commercial right now, mainly because construction has picked up in the last two years. We’re doing a lot of neat fabricating and that kind of stuff.
“I can do anything the big major people can do, plus we’re putting it up and we’re not having to crate it up and ship it, so we can save some money for folks that way.”
And even if you don’t see the Greenville Awning name, you have likely walked under one of its products. Greenville Awning and Canopy has provided services for several local shopping centers and new student housing complexes, Rock Springs Center, Coffman’s, Aquaventure in Winterville, the new Parker’s Barbecue on Arlington Boulevard and the East Carolina University Ticket Office. The range of products is wide:
· Aluminum awnings: Available in 15 different colors and a lower-cost alternative to fabric awnings.
· Carports patio covers: Made of pre-manufactured aluminum and available in a wide range of colors. Built to meet or exceed local building codes for wind and snow load.
· Permanent patio awnings: Custom made to fit a deck or patio.
· Retractable awnings: Nine different models offered or lateral-arm and drop-arm awnings.
· Lateral-arm retractable: Arms fold up and retract under the fabric roll. Can be operated manually or motorized.
· Drop-arm retractables: Supported by arms attached to wall beneath the fabric roll vertically. Designed to shade windows and porches from the sun. Can be operated manually or motorized.
· Power and vertical screens: Solair Power Screen fabrics 70-92 percent of UV rays while allowing visibility. The Solair Vertical Curtain is an economical way to block the sun from a porch during the morning and afternoon.
Greenville Awning and Canopy features fabric from Sunbrella, a North Carolina-based company, but also offer several other acrylic material manufacturers such as Recacril, Tempotest. Mainstreet, Weathermax, Outdura. Vinyl fabrics include Cooley Brite, Herculite, Nite Lite, Patio 500 and Weblon.
All production is done in-house and comes with a 10-year warranty on the frame. Most fabric manufacturers also offer 10-year warranties.
Vincent said advances in technology have made products more lightweight and durable.
“The fabrics are better, so awnings last longer,” Vincent said. “… “There’s always something new coming out. People like metal roofing that goes on houses. They’re making awnings out of those now.
“The commercial is really tending toward a heavy architectural canopy look. … Years ago, if you wanted that, it had to be made out of steel, you had to have huge I-beams in the walls and put a welder out there on site. Now we can do it all out of aluminum because it weighs so much less. We can manufacture here and carry it out there and mount it up on the wall. You get the same look for half the money.”
Most of the company’s customers are within about a 50-mile radius, but Greenville Awning and Canopy also has had clients in Knoxville, Tenn., Richmond, Va., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
It’s about always diversifying and meeting needs, Vincent said. He even retained the propane tank refull business that Van’s Hardware offered.
“Just like any business you’ve got to find ways to evolve,” Vincent said. “You can’t have all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.”