With 300 sunny days a year, Las Vegas knows a thing or two about getting out of the heat. That’s where Steve Mevius, founder of Polar Shades and Las Vegas native, found himself in 1994 when he began building and installing solar-protective window screens for his friends and family in the area. Through hard work and determination over 25 years, what started as a hobby for Mevius has turned into a nationwide phenomenon.
Every entrepreneur begins with an idea and a little free time, and Mevius took full advantage of both. Working 40 or more hours a week as a Customer Service Manager in the early years, by the year 2000 he and his father had leased their first warehouse, and Polar Shades, Inc. was born. “We both didn’t take a paycheck until 2004, choosing to reinvest every single penny we could on material, equipment, and employees,” says Mevius, “The most valuable entrepreneurial lesson for me was to create relationships with our customer through honesty, integrity, and never lowering our values for a project.” This dedication to craft and customer helped Polar Shades stand out from the crowd, and soon they had contracts in New York, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, California, and other states around the nation, and now manufacture over 85,000 shades every year in their new, 50,000 sq. foot state-of-the-art facility in Las Vegas, NV.
However, Polar Shades’ rise hasn’t been obstacle free. They’ve often been overlooked by the huge hospitality industry in their own city. “The only casino owner that gave us a chance was Mr. Sheldon Adelson, in which we supplied our products for the Venetian and Palazzo, ahead of schedule,” says Mevius, “We consistently exceed the standards of our industry yet struggle with the Las Vegas hospitality business.” However, the Las Vegan is proud of the fact his product is made in Nevada, and believes more should be done to promote local business. “It starts with [the government] promoting Nevada businesses to Nevada businesses. [We] can’t stand to see similar products to our coming in from Mexico to the Las Vegas Strip properties. It instills pride in our Polar Shades team to see our shades in various resorts, golf courses, actors and actresses houses, and knowing that we are made in Vegas.”
Polar Shades has grown from one man with an idea into a flourishing business making a real splash in the industry, and this is what continues to drive Mevius. “Taking a backyard hobby into a multi-million dollar business with 60+ employees through determination and drive is definitely our biggest success.” And they have no plans to stop any time soon. In five years, Mevius hopes to “double our size and revenue and have our product in every single hotel in Nevada.” And while that may seem like a lofty goal, just look at how far they’ve come already. As a finally piece of advice to young entrepreneurs everywhere, Mevius said simply, “Believe in your dreams, and through hard work, honesty, and integrity, the ‘American Dream’ can be your reality.”