Like many inspired ideas, Fix My Blinds (FMB) is the product of a momentary thought during a drive. In late 1999, Mike Yanke, the now president of Fix My Blinds, Inc., was installing blinds and doing in-home blind and shade repair. He learned to repair blinds from a friend in 1995. After restringing yet another cellular shade, Mike headed to a different customer’s home. Along the way, while he talked with God, he was given this idea. He considered how easy the repair really was and how most home owners could handle the process themselves if they had the knowledge and the parts. The internet had just come into common use in the last four years, and online shopping was a newer, hot development given Amazon’s success starting out as a bookseller in 1994. Mike’s first thought was to put together a generic restring kit that would fix most cellular shades that need new string. And this idea grew into action.
In January 2000, Mike began to build a rudimentary website using a simple hosting site that had built in templates. He spent time learning how to write basic HTML and reading as much information as possible about creating a website. He did all of this at night after he had put in a full day working installing and repairing blinds.
The website launched in April 2000 with just a few products, including the restring kits for cellular shades. Mike figured that these kits would be a solid item that would be universal nationwide. The first order, for a restring kit nonetheless, arrived on April 28, 2000 from a woman living less than 100 miles away from Colorado Springs, where Mike and his family were located. But one order turned into more and soon, Fix My Blinds was receiving 15-20 orders per day.
After nearly four years of working his day job installing blinds and managing the website and orders at night, it became too much for Mike and his family. It was time to make a choice. While Mike wrestled with this decision, which would impact how well he could care and provide for his family, he realized that there wasn’t time for each. By this time, he was installing for a local blind manufacturer. The day he gave his two weeks’ notice to exclusively focus on the website, he fell asleep and had a dream. High up over a valley, he looked out and saw that the valley was full of good things. He was eating grapes that were sweet and juicy, one after another. When he woke up, Mike realized that this dream was the affirmation from God that he was headed in the right direction. He felt it was a sign of blessing that there would be plenty to care for his family in the future. Once Mike was obedient to what God wanted him to do by quitting his day job and focusing on FMB full time, God blessed him and his family with more than enough.
At this point, Mike had been handling the web orders and returning all customer inquiries himself. Now, his wife, Paula, stepped in to assist with the day to day operations. As the orders continued to increase, Mike and Paula’s three children helped, too. They all have memories of rolling up lengths of string for customers while watching TV together. Mike paid them a quarter for each completed roll.
Much to their astonishment, the company continued to rapidly grow and had taken over their home. The basement was now full of racks of string and parts with areas for packaging orders. One of the bedrooms had exclusively become an office. They even took a daily trip to the local post office to mail the orders, being known by the Postmaster by name.
In January 2006, FMB became an incorporation, and their first employee was hired in May. November saw the addition of another part time staff member. These two women were both sisters of Paula’s. And FMB continued to add employees as needed, hiring their first non-family employee in January of 2008. We currently have a staff of over a dozen people!
In early 2008, he realized it was time to leave the home that they’d been living in since 1990 and working in for eight years. Mike and his family moved to a new home and began to use the older home as the FMB base of operations. The business had fully taken over the space, using the whole house for business matters.
FMB just kept growing. We outgrew that house and moved into our first commercial space in September 2009. At first, the space seemed too big, but we quickly filled it up, adding new employees, new parts, and new instructions and updates to our website. In December 2012, Mike purchased a commercial building with 12,500 square feet. This is where FMB is located today at 615 Conrad St. in Colorado Springs, CO.
What was first believed to be a fun side job has turned into a thriving, growing business. One man who imagined simplifying blind repair for homeworkers is now running a flourishing business that has over 3,700 website visitors per day. Two of Mike and Paula’s children currently work here and are a valuable part of the growth FMB has experienced over the years. Their third child has worked with us producing videos and commercials on and off over the years as well. Mike and Paula’s main motivation in their work is to bring glory to God. They feel God has given this business and blessings to them, and they use those to bless and help others. This truly is a family owned and operated business.
When asked what the most rewarding part of this journey has been thus far, Mike smiles and says that by far it has been the interactions and growth he has experienced as a result of his employees. He is so proud of his kids working with him, and he has enjoyed watching all of his employees grow and learn. Mike cares about connections – connections with employees, with family, with customers, and most importantly, with Jesus Christ. He knows that we’re all in this together, and he wants to make each blind repair experience as easy and as satisfying as possible. He has imparted these values to his employees and each work hard to see the repairs from the customer’s perspective, provide detailed instructions, excellent service and a wide variety of parts. As Mike says, “We still have a long way to go to fine-tune and master that,” but we are working each day to further empower our customers.