Over the years the demand for fine, decorative ironwork increased. Enter the DBA known as Le Fer Forgé with the furniture and accessory division to fill that demand. The name may be French but it is actually an American company. Fer Forgé by definition means wrought iron or wrought ironwork. It is the French art of forging steel. The word “Le” was added to give it a unique twist. Le Fer Forgé specialized in manufacturing custom furniture, accessories and anything decorative. When visiting the factory I always enjoyed seeing the beautiful, handmade, one of a kind pieces of art they fabricated. The ornate look was popular back then, so much of the work produced was of classical design. They would produce pieces based off of photos that were brought to them or they would create their own original designs. Each item was hand painted with love.
Ever so often Le Fer Forgé manufactured drapery hardware for window treatment specialists, workrooms, interior designers and homeowners. In 1996, I partnered with the company and it didn’t take me long to see the need for a high-quality line of drapery hardware made in America. At the time the company was only selling locally in the South Florida area. I wanted to see this beautiful handmade drapery hardware adorning the windows of homes everywhere. That’s when we began to design a standard collection that could be cataloged. In 1999 the opportunity arose to purchase Le Fer Forgé and make it its own entity. The new focus was to manufacture and sell exclusively to the trade. We focused on reaching designers nationwide and in the Caribbean because of our proximity and the fact that we specialized in manufacturing exterior drapery hardware. At that time customers would find us exhibiting at trade shows. It has been a long time since we have attended trade shows because in our industry good news spreads fast. Our loyal customers keep us very busy all year round with new customers finding us through referrals unless they happily stumble upon us by accident.
Another niche of ours was to furnish the lobbies, restaurants and guest rooms of the hospitality industry with commercial quality drapery hardware. Le Fer Forgé’s specialty has always been custom work made easy. Our talented artisans learned their trades growing up in the Caribbean. From our inception, we saw the importance of effortlessly manufacturing whatever the customer desired. The value of being able to customize was priceless. It made us an important partner in our customer’s success. Designers always know that no matter what installation obstacle they run into, we can provide a solution. It saddens us to say that our weak spot still lies in photographing our custom work. After 23 years we could have published many books of our work. Feel free to challenge us with anything that you need to be made.
All was smooth sailing for many years for our customers until the low quality imported drapery hardware started flooding the market. It became apparent to us after speaking with our customers and seeing and feeling this imported hardware that our American drapery hardware
was superior. Every job demands a certain quality and we knew that we were not interested in competing with theirs. Designers had the option to purchase the inferior hardware and endure the missing element of customer service. To this day we have our share of customers who come to us to replace the hardware that was not right for the job. My twenty-three years of experience in the drapery hardware manufacturing industry has taught me to be able to distinguish the quality of hardware simply from the photographs that represent them. The true gauge of quality is the opinion of your installer and the testimonials of your fellow trade members.
The temptation during those years and even up until today is to have the drapery hardware manufactured overseas because it is less expensive. We the consumer turn a blind eye to the fact that underage labor is responsible for producing a certain portion of the work. The solicitations from manufacturers overseas never seem to end and we have yet to understand the benefit except financially. My philosophy has always been to make less profit and sleep well at night knowing we are the quality control.
What makes us unique is that our poles are manufactured in the USA. It was our decision from the beginning to make aluminum the material of choice for our poles knowing that our costs were exponentially higher than most poles on the market. We intentionally extrude our poles with the proper wall thicknesses because we do not want to skimp on quality. Aluminum by nature is a more rigid material for a drapery pole. It also plays perfectly into our niche of manufacturing exterior drapery hardware. Our poles can be interchangeably specified for interior or exterior use.
Le Fer Forgé was instrumental in popularizing the use of drapery hardware for exterior installations. What makes us unique is our attention to detail in using materials that eliminate the rusting issues so many of our clients have experienced. We want to educate our customers to ask the right questions before selecting hardware touted for exterior use. Be wary of hardware being sold for outdoor use solely based on the coating it is finished with. This is not enough because a clear coat or a powder coat finish is literally the thickness of a hair. When the coating is compromised rust can form leading to possible damage to your draperies. We manufacture with non-ferrous metals like aluminum and stainless steel materials. A powder coat finish that has been formulated for exterior use is then baked and cured on. Not all powder coat finishes are created equal. Many powder coat finishes will powder up and flake off as they are exposed to the extremities.
As Le Fer Forgé continues to grow alongside our customers, we know that if we continue to do the right thing – take good care of our customers, employees, suppliers, and your customer’s windows then we will all naturally thrive together.