Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Outdoor Week: Achieving Outdoor Shade Success

The GHT Group sees the category as a logical extension of its shade business and a huge growth area.

Outdoor Week 2024 Logo - Draper at Home

Integration firm GHT Group has three locations — Marietta, Ga., Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., and Homewood, Ala. — and each area has a successful and growing outdoor shade business, so it comes as a surprise that the company almost walked away from the category completely not too long ago.

“The first outdoor shade partner we had got bought by another company and basically faded away,” says Eric Joy, vice president of GHT Group. “Our next partner kept shipping the wrong parts and then would overnight more incorrect parts. We had shades just flapping in the wind out there. We couldn’t find the right partner and were thinking that we were going to walk away from outdoor shades.”

Before that would happen, Draper became a partner with buying group HTSA, where Joy is a member of its board. “We were invited to come out to Spiceland, Ind., for a tour and to see what they are all about,” he says. “I was blown away by their facility, which is ridiculously phenomenal, as well as their culture. They want to be a good business partner.

“We thought it looked like the right product and we decided to give outdoor shades another shot, and now we’ve done a good number of installations, with more to come.”

The Outdoor Ecosystem

Like many dealers, GHT Group has seen a rise in outdoor AV requests that began during the pandemic and has continued since. Adding outdoor shades to the overall package increases the client’s return on investment for the entire ecosystem.

Draper Outdoor Shades Installation
An example of Draper At Home’s outdoor shades in action. Photo courtesy of Draper.

“Depending on the environment, there are different reasons why a client might want to add outdoor shades,” says Joy. “Some people might want to cut the sunlight down and change the temperature on their side of the screen by a few degrees. It’s also going to keep most bugs out, and, when it’s raining you still can use that outside space and its speakers and televisions and lighting.

Outdoor Week: Skater Park Sound and Light

“When you sell outdoor shades, you sell somebody on the proposition of having the ability to turn this outside area into a real finished living space so that during the early spring and the fall, when it might be too chilly or windy or too many leaves dropping, you will be comfortable and protected.”

Now, GHT is going back to its outdoor AV and lighting customers to see if they are interested in adding outdoor shades to their yards.

Grab a Beer, Find a Client

Draper’s website features a video of an outdoor shade installation being done in a Florida restaurant when it starts pouring rain about halfway through the job. The area that is already covered by the new shades stays dry, while the space around the old partitions is soaked.

That gave Joy an idea.

The next time he visited GHT’s Florida location, he grabbed a beer with a new member of his team at a restaurant right near the bay, facing the water and all the natural environmental issues that the stunning view creates.

“About half of their potential patrons are going to be seated directly outside or in a place where water and wind are going to come in,” says Joy. “They have the clear, hand-crank operated screens and, at this point, they’re dirty and look gross.

GHT Group - Eric Joy
Eric Joy

“I said, ‘We’re just going to enjoy this beer, and when we’re done we go back up to the bar and order another one.’ When we got up there, I asked how often they use those plastic roll-down screens and the response was, ‘Down here in Florida, you never know when some rain is going to come out of nowhere, so we use it very often.’ Then I asked if it was a pain to use, and the response was, ‘Yes — I’m the only one that does it and by the time I get out and I hand crank everything down I am soaking wet. Then the rainstorm blows through and the sun is immediately out It’s like being under a magnifying glass.’

“That’s when I explained the benefits of our system — motorized, synchronized, and breathable, but still keeps the elements out. I offered a quote and they said, ‘Sure.’

“That turned into a job and then that place’s sister restaurant down the road had the same situation, so our team got that job as well. When we went out there to do the installation, somebody came up and tapped one of the guys on the shoulder and said he could use those shades down the way for his residential property.”

Solving for Shades

There is no doubt that adding shades — both indoor and outdoor — is challenging, especially when it comes to getting the measurements right. After disposing of a pile of miscut shades, GHT made a plan to address the issue.

“It took a while for us to get comfortable with shades,” says Joy. “One of the things that we have done specifically here with our Atlanta team is we now have a designated shade team. We needed people that are consistently doing this and repeating it. We have had this in place for about a year now, and our shade business is through the roof because we have a team that knows what they’re doing. It makes it for a lot more confidence in the sales team.”

Outdoor Week: Made For the Shade…and Sun

The shade team is homegrown; made up of employees already at GHT who were interested in specializing. This is the same team that handles all the outdoor shade projects as well. GHT is planning on expanding the concept to its other locations.

With all of its outdoor shading success, it is fortunate that GHT Group gave the category one more chance.

“Draper has the manufacturing capability and, from what I have seen, the desire to want to be a good partner,” says Joy. “Our industry is full of great products with unsupportive people behind them, and then we have not-so-great products, but with people that are doing their best. When you can find that combination of a great product and great people…that’s who we want to do business with.”

For more information, visit and