“It’s a mutual relationship,” Robert Bloch said. “I trust you, you trust me, I’m watching out for you and your family and business, and we make sure our customers are happy. I don’t want to sound trite and cliché, but [my employees and I] are like a family.”
This is how Bloch, president of BEI Window Coverings and Interiors (BEI), approaches both life and business.
BEI specializes in window treatments. This includes everything from blinds often found in family homes to convenient motorized coverings for those looking for something a bit more upscale. In addition to its Virginia location, the company has offices in the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area, North Carolina, New York City and Florida. With contractors in various corners of the country, BEI enjoys serving as many customers as it can wherever they may be.
According to Bloch, BEI has been located in Oyster Point “since the beginning.” In 1969, what eventually became BEI Window Coverings and Interiors was initially a family business operated by Bloch’s father. It gained traction slowly but increased as Bloch’s father began business with the real estate firm of Drucker + Falk. Following that, BEI began manufacturing products for the federal government.
“I [have been] working at this business since I was 10 years old,” Bloch says of the legacy his father left for him. Bloch grew up in Newport News and became an installer for BEI, then a bookkeeper and a sales representative, as the business grew nationwide and worldwide. The business expanded into audio-visual work, incorporating that into its existing expertise blinds and other types of window coverings. This included motorized artwork and electric glass, a type of clear glass that becomes frosted with the push of a button.
“We have one name-dropping claim to fame,” Bloch says. “A contractor called me and said, ‘Hey, I’m doing work for a celebrity, and I need your electric glass. I can’t tell you who it is, but I can tell you it’s an impossible mission building his house.’ So we knew it was Tom Cruise.”
As exciting as that particular job was for Bloch and the rest of BEI, most of the work they do is either commercial or residential for the general public. Due to coronavirus concerns, the company has been more involved with residential than commercial work in recent months. Bloch says his team always wears booties and masks in their customers’ homes to ensure safety and peace of mind.
Bloch continues, “As our products have evolved, and manufacturers become more aware of what consumers’ issues are, [our company] is always ahead of that curve. We always try to be experts in what we do and everything that surrounds what we do. For example, if I’m going to someone’s home and see parts of it under construction, I know something about their drywall or their windows or how their framing is done. So hopefully by the time I leave them, they say, ‘Wow, this guy knows what he’s talking about.’”
Bloch describes himself as a consumer, and to him, there is nothing worse than buyer’s remorse. He encourages his employees to learn as much as they can in order to serve their customers beyond what they might expect. “It’s a matter of trust,” he says. “With our customers, I put myself in a consumer position. With my employees, I put myself in their position.”
The Virginia BEI employees have been with the company for “a long time,” which Bloch attributes to the family dynamic of the company. He strives to make his work environment a place where his employees feel supported and genuinely valued.
“I treat my employees as family, with understanding of their lives outside of work, and that they have life concerns that they deal with every day,” he says. “It should not always be a sacrifice to come to work. I advise that family comes first.”
Bloch praises his dedicated team, saying, “Michelle, Britta, Bill, Melissa, Linda and Jay are all excellent at what they do. When you find devoted people who are great at their jobs, it works for everybody,” he says.
Bloch is married to Darcy, and they have four children, all of whom reside in New York. He enjoys keeping up with his fitness, including walking four miles every day, skiing in the winter and swimming laps.
Recently, he and the BEI team have been selling masks and donating some to those in need of protection against coronavirus. This is just another example of how Bloch’s kindness extends to all aspects of his life and work, a reason why BEI Window Coverings and Interiors is truly maintaining a “family first” philosophy.
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