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Quality and professionalism are secrets to longevity in custom framing industry

By Jen Gramm, Tru Vue® Director of Marketing

For over 45 years, Tru Vue® has worked hand-in-hand with independent framers to deliver proven and affordable glazing solutions and industry-leading support. In our continued commitment to the independent framing market, Tru Vue is launching a series of ads recognizing the talent and expertise of custom framers. In our blog, we are going behind the frame to share more about the framers in these ads, starting with Charlie Barnes, owner of The Custom Framer.  



The custom framing industry was very different when Charlie Barnes first launched his business 32 years ago. It wasn’t too long after he opened The Custom Framer in one of Chicago’s North Shore suburbs that he understood how important quality and expertise would be to his success.



“When I first started in the business, I wouldn’t turn any projects down. It’s different now,” said Charlie of why his customers come to his shop. “Quality is very important. Higher quality materials equal a higher quality final product.”



Over the years, he has experienced major shifts in the industry. Training, continuing education, and adaptability have helped him endure through those changes in demand for custom framing. He is a PPFA™ Certified Picture Framer® and stays up-to-date on new techniques, design styles, and materials. For him, the focus is always on the artwork, and he has seen how materials and conservation techniques have helped him deliver even better framing to his customers.



With glazing, in particular, Charlie has seen significant improvements in the range of options available. When he first opened his shop, glazing choices were far more limited. In the mid-1980’s Conservation Clear® was just introduced, and Museum Glass® was still several years away.



“With glazing, the main concern was always protecting the art,” said Charlie. “But more and more people are choosing anti-reflective glazing. I have the Glass Choices display on my counter, and when people see the difference, most of the time they choose Museum Glass.”



The quality of the products  and the innovations over the years are not the only reasons why Charlie is committed to Tru Vue. His appreciation goes beyond the glazing. “It’s not just the quality of their glazing products but the accompanying level of service that Tru Vue provides, from the responsive customer service, convenient packaging, to the gloves and stickers they offer.”



“Tru Vue is always working to come up with a better product,” he said. “The company stays in contact with framers and is very responsive to the rare issues that come up.”



When asked what he thinks will bring framers success in the next decade, Charlie said that quality would remain one of the most important factors. With the rise of online retail in custom framing and price sensitivity, custom framers need to offer something more than just price. “The only way to survive in this business will be with quality, service, expertise, design, and a great product,” he said. “Having a friendly rapport, talking to customers and having that personal connection is something that brings people into a local shop, something they can’t find on the internet.”



Charlie believes that solid training and experience will also make the difference for longevity in custom framing. People that are new to the custom framing business should be prepared to train beyond introductory courses because customers rely on their framers for guidance.



“People come to our shop because they appreciate our design,” he said. “Customers feel confident when you can give them direction and even push them to consider choices they might not do otherwise.”



Look for Charlie’s ad in the September issues of Picture Framing Magazine and Art World News. For more information on the Tru Vue and the innovations over the years, click here to see a creative take on milestones in glazing.


This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

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