Matthew Buquoi. CEO of Flower Window Boxes

As with so many stories of runaway success, the fusion of passion and acumen are the essential ingredients driving forward many entrepreneurs – especially those that seek to take things to the next level.

Matthew Buquoi, CEO of Flower Window Boxes, is such a success story. After struggling to find gainful employment after graduating from Georgia Tech, Matthew found himself deeply enmeshed in woodworking at a local millworks company. What had started as an opportunity for survival became a life-altering moment as the CEO of Flower Window Boxes discovered a deep love for working with his hands and an even keener eye for woodworking itself.

Specializing in custom farmhouse and garden pieces for homes, Flower Window Boxes originally catered to a small market that has since grown and thanks in no small part to the CEO’s hands-on approach when it comes to business fundamentals such as accounting, marketing, and finance.

Dedication notwithstanding, Buquoi is quick to credit his team with helping him climb to the summit. Commenting on how he had to hire three people to help him with day-to-day business, Buquoi is quick to remind us just how overwhelming the task of running a startup firm can be. Since its inception, Flower Window Boxes has expanded its product offerings to include gables, brackets, corbels, mantels, among others.

Whatever the project, Flower Window Boxes is devoted to realizing customers’ dreams with current and future offerings driven in part by their needs and market innovations. When discussing advice for entrepreneurs today, Matthew Buquoi talks about first-mover advantages and how it would be more difficult for Flower Window Boxes to get started today thanks, in part, to more competition than when the firm started. Here, we return to the beginning theme of honing in on one’s passion as a key element of success.  

Matthew, please start by telling us about Flower Window Boxes.

We are an online curb appeal company specializing in custom farmhouse and garden pieces for homes.  We make all of our products from high quality materials like cedar and PVC.  We specialize in custom woodworking and fine millworks.

What inspired you to start Flower Window Boxes, and how did the company get off the ground?

I graduated from Georgia Tech with a physics degree and found it very hard to find a job.  After taking a job barely above minimum wage working for a small, local millworks company I discovered I had a passion working with my hands and doing woodworking.  This company was struggling and so I offered to build a website for free for them and I quickly learned the hard way that a website without traffic has no strength.  I taught myself the online marketing side of things in my spare time and eventually left this company to start my own business specializing in window boxes, which was a very niche field at the time.

What were some of the challenges you faced in the early stages of the company?

I had to learn how to do sales, shipping, accounting, purchasing and all kinds of other skills that I had never done before.  I also to learn how to hire and do payroll.  All while doing this I also had to build, ship, and fulfill all the orders.  Within a few weeks I was so overwhelmed I had to hire three people to replace me to build all the product so I could focus on the other aspects of running the business.

Please tell us about some of the other products Flower Window Boxes makes.

In addition to window boxes and planters, we also have an exterior shutter line called Forever Shutters which is a no rot quality shutter replacement that has the look of wood but lasts a lifetime.  We also have a complete line of cedar farmhouse products including gables, brackets, corbels, mantels, and more.  We do a lot of custom work and can turn any customers drawing or architects’ blueprints into a reality.

You have added a variety of products over the years. What was the reason behind expanding the product line?

Our products have always been inspired and driven by our customers.  When we first started we just did the window boxes. Then customers wanted bigger boxes for the ground so we started doing planters.  Each time our customer asked for something we weren’t already doing, we decided to take a chance on building it and many of these custom jobs became future product lines.

Flower Window Boxes have been showcased on several home improvement shows. How were you approached to showcase the company’s products on these television shows? How does appearing on a home improvement show increase the public’s awareness of Flower Window Boxes?

In almost all cases we were emailed by a television company representative who wanted to pitch us an idea or wanted to incorporate our product into an already existing idea they were doing.  We are always honored when that happens.  We have been featured on NBC’s The Today Show, Ask this Old House, and HGTV.

What type of houses are ideal for Flower Window Boxes, and why should customers add them to their homes?

We have customers of all types of homes.  We try to offer our products in different styles from colonial, to traditional, to modern so that there is something for everyone. We also offer our window box products in PVC, wood, and wrought iron so that the customer can cater the product to their specific home.  Our hope is that the customer who buys our products can feel more proud of their home or find some utility of the product.  We have had so many calls over the years of customers who got compliments of their home from neighbors who saw a new gable accent or saw the customer working in their flower box while walking by.

With summer just around the corner, are you expecting to see an influx in business? Do customers typically order more of the company’s products during summer months?

We are definitely a seasonal company and our season picks up in March and goes through till the end of summer where it begins to fall off.  I always say that “Mother Nature never lies,” which means spring always comes and always goes every year.  Just as sure as Mother Nature is to come and go, our sales tend to follow as well.

Matthew, what is your advice to an entrepreneur who wants to start a company in the home improvement or landscape sector?

It is so much harder to do it now than 15 years ago.  Back then, there were fewer companies in our space and certainly less competition online from the big box stores.  But if I had to give one piece of advice it would be to learn the marketing side of business first.  Without marketing, it often doesn’t matter how good your product is, because no one will even know you exist.

Matthew Buquoi

If you had to do it all over again with Flower Window Boxes, what is something you would do differently?

It’s been such a fun ride and I’m not sure I would change a lot.  If I had to pick something it would be to outsource some of my responsibilities earlier though.  For the longest time I thought I was superman and I could do everything myself.  Putting people in place and giving them responsibilities was the best thing I did to gain some sanity and to help grow the company.

Matthew, how is a day in your life?

My typical day starts at 6 am.  When I arrive at work I speak with my different managers to see where we are in sales, production, and shipping.  From there I spend most of my days working on the day to day stuff, marketing, and product development.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I have a passion for physics.  My dream child growing up was that I wanted to work for NASA and I wanted to help design and build rockets. I went to Georgia Tech to pursue that dream but when I graduated I couldn’t find a job quick enough.  I’m happy that I found my way into owning my own business.  That was never a dream of mine and I never thought it was possible when I was younger.

What makes you smile?

My family is the most important part of my life.  When my day ends I find it most important to put my work down and go home.  My three kids are growing up so fast and I don’t want to miss out on any memories.  The most important job I have is not my business, but spending time with my kids and my wife Amber.

What scares you?

Running a business always comes with risk.  Some people think being a business owner is the easiest job in the world or the most fun, but it does come with a lot of stress and responsibility.  Every day I remind myself that all my workers are relying on me to provide for their families and I try to keep a healthy fear of that to remind me every day to go to work and keep pushing the boundaries of my business to grow.

If you had the power to change just one thing in the world, what would it be?

If I could let my imagination as a kid take over me today I would love to find a way to explore my passion for space.  I’m still waiting for NASA to call me to be the first person to put a window box on a space rocket.

To know more about Matthew Buquoi and Flower Window Boxes please visit https://www.flowerwindowboxes.com/

 

 

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