Lutek Shading Systems
Location: Arvada, CO
Industry: Design, manufacture and install window coverings
Kelli Beckish has successfully designed her life with fabric - and she has her mother to thank.
Beckish, President of Lutek Shading Systems, a company that designs, manufactures, and installs window coverings, said her story as the entrepreneur and leader she has become starts with her foundation, her mom, Mary Lou Ralston.
Beckish joined Lutek in 1994, though it was established in 1968 by Mary Lou who designed wedding gowns as a side business. After having children and driven by the need for flexibility in her professional life, Mary Lou started the first iteration of Lutek, Mrs. G’s. With residential installations as the company’s mainstay, everything changed in the 1980s when Mary Lou took on her first commercial project. Called on to provide expertise in a construction dispute involving draperies, Mary Lou found a solution to the nearly $1M dispute. The prominent contractor involved then hired only Mary Lou to provide window coverings and in 1985, Mrs. G’s was rebranded as Lutek to expand into the commercial industry and mini blinds. For the future of Mrs. G’s, the decision was a custom fit.
Today, as one of the few woman-owned manufacturers in the U.S., Beckish has successfully grown Lutek both fiscally and physically year over year since she has taken over. She learned the business from the ground up starting in the warehouse manufacturing shades, became warehouse manager, moved onto inventory management and later field operations. At the time, Lutek was purchasing shades, but after extensive research, Kelli pushed to manufacture their own line. Now, almost thirty years later, Kelli is President and Lutek shades are specked with architects and designers throughout Colorado.
Known for her leadership and vision for product engineering and manufacturing, Beckish has revolutionized the shade industry. Together, Mary Lou and Kelli have taken Lutek from a home-based custom drapery business to a multi-million-dollar window shading systems company that designs, manufactures, installs, warranties and services its products.
While Mary Lou built Lutek, for the past 30 years Beckish has had a hand in making Lutek the viable thriving business it has become. Privately funded all 52 years, Beckish and her team do not limit themselves to repeating a function that happens a million times across every city: building goes up, window coverings go in. Instead, she is constantly seeking to evolve, grow, and challenge the limits, and not just by taking on the complicated projects that some companies will not touch. Taking calculated risks is part of her leadership allure.
Involved in designing a line of products to distinguish Lutek from the competitors and to make shade installation easier for the Lutek team, Beckish was recently able to complete construction of a 35,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Arvada, Colorado. It is one of her greatest accomplishments.
“I’m pretty proud of this building,” Beckish said. From our humble beginnings to now work here - it was a lot of hard work and grinding.
Her additional awards and accomplishments include: Fast 50: Made in Colorado Manufacturing Top-Designed Good (Won 2019); Small Business Award Finalist 2020, Volunteer: ASL Golf Tournament (2009-2019); Arrupe Jesuit Internship (work study); Women in welding workshop sponsorship; Breast Cancer Race for the Cure, and Inventor of She Rex Arm Restriction DeviceProceeds to Breast Cancer Community.
Known for her exceptional endurance, Beckish has faced down markets, breast cancer and now stays strong during the pandemic.
“Lutek has never shut down,” she said. “Even during this pandemic, Lutek has stayed open and operated in a safe and healthy environment.”
A true Titan in every aspect, Beckish is at the office every day streamlining processes from sales to manufacturing and engages every team member in perfecting those processes. Her engagement in all aspects of the business solidifies her leadership and commitment to doing whatever it takes to support her team members and ensure Lutek’s success in the market.
And she is sure to thank her mom every day for teaching her how to lead.
"From our humble beginnings to now work here - it was a lot of hard work and grinding."