Decor Grates was founded in 1990 by Ralph Oosterhuis and his wife, Tiki. Ralph and Tiki initially began selling brass floor registers as an ancillary product through their former brass bed frame business. After seven years of selling brass floor registers, Ralph and Tiki recognized that decorative floor registers had come of age and went on to incorporate Decor Grates in 1990. Consumers were looking for innovative enhancements for their homes –something Decor Grates could provide.
The company initially stayed in Canada with its products but entered the US market in 1988. Less than a decade later, Decor Grates entered the retail and mass merchandising marketplace with great success; the company was nominated for an “Exporter of the Year” award by the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce and was also named one of the 200 fastest-growing companies in Canada.
In 2002, owners Ralph and Tiki Oosterhuis were both nominated for Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards. That same year, Tiki Oosterhuis was named one of the Top 100 Women Business Owners [#34] in Canada (as ranked by Chatelaine and PROFIT Magazine), making the list a second time in 2003. She was additionally nominated as Rotman Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of 2003 – another remarkable accomplishment.
At present, Decor Grates is the most versatile and innovative grate designer/manufacturer in Canada. Between the leadership of the original ownership team and the company’s innovative approach to products and services, Decor Grates has been largely successful over the past decade. The company has grown as necessary, but has never overshot its ability.
In 2004, Decor Grates set up its own injection molding operation with the purchase of six machines and ancillary equipment. However, this initial change wasn’t enough. When current CFO and Company Partner Owen Carroll worked with the SMART program in 2008, Decor Grates invested in state-of-the-art flow wrapping equipment – a first in the floor register industry. The company also updated their packaging to a more eco-friendly version, which was not only better for the environment, but also resulted in significant cost savings to make us even more competitive.
In 2010, Decor Grates moved to a more modern and efficient facility in Markham, Ontario, adding two more 500-ton injection molding machines and a second flow wrapping machine to increase capacity. All of these changes kept the company moving in the right direction.
Never Sacrificing Quality
Decor Grates has always maintained its competitiveness with pricing but has never sacrificed quality. Products are always produced and finished in house – not overseas. That has made all the difference.
“Our strategy is going to remain the same going forward,” Carroll says. “We try to get across that we’re more than price; we’re about quality. We’re about service. We are proactive with our clients and that won’t change.”
The company has always gone the road less travelled, introducing new product lines when cost was at a premium. Eventually, Decor Grates introduced premium wood registers and other types of materials that were more expensive, yet still ensuring they were affordable for customers.