A Q+A with Bob Carnes, President of Air Vent Exteriors

January 16, 2019

Tell us about your business and the role you play in it.

I’m Bob Carnes, the president of Air Vent Exteriors. As we have grown, my role has become less of a hands-on role and more one of general oversight. We have added more layers of management as we have become a larger company and that has allowed me more time to focus on the overall management and future direction of the business.

Air Vent Exteriors is a specialty contracting company offering Residential and Commercial Awnings, Sunrooms, Screen Rooms, Windows and Doors. Our mission is to help our customers fully realize the potential of their exterior spaces by providing high quality, custom designed and built exterior products for their homes and businesses. Building strong, lasting relationships with our customers, employees, and suppliers is our top priority because we know they are instrumental to the success of our company. Our goal, since our inception in 1985 and moving forward is to continue growing our business while keeping an emphasis on creating local jobs and supporting our local community.

What makes your business unique in its field?

We feel like we are unique on two fronts. First, we design and manufacture our own awnings locally in our own facility using as many locally sourced materials as possible. As we have grown, we have been able to purchase specialized machines and equipment that have allowed us to produce unique products that many awning companies are unable to offer. This equipment enables us to be more efficient and more diverse. Second, as we have grown, we have been able to expand our talent pool through the acquisition of skilled employees. This has given us the ability to design, produce, and install a larger range of products compared to other residential specialty contractors.

How many employees do you have? And what qualities do you look for when hiring?

We currently have 40 employees. We look for different qualities depending on the exact position we are trying to fill but a definite commonality is finding someone who has the ability to be a team player. We are a close-knit company, so we are as interested in hiring for personality fit for the company as we are for the person’s skill set. We look for a person who is willing to learn new things and who isn’t afraid to share ideas. We need problem solvers and people who are adaptable.

Where do you see your business in the next year? The next five?

We are definitely undergoing strong growth at this time. We just finished a year where we saw 20% growth in sales and we expect 10% to 15% annual growth over the next 5 years as we continue with an emphasis on residential specialty work and an increased focus on commercial awning projects.

What is your favorite part about doing business in the Asheville area?

It is undeniable that we have been able to locate and retain skilled employees here in the Asheville area. Geographically, it is a great area for us because it enables us to easily serve Asheville and many of the larger cities, such as Charlotte, Charleston, and Atlanta where we do many of our large commercial awning projects. Asheville is an economically thriving area which is beneficial for our business as well. Beyond work, Asheville is just a great place to live with the beautiful change of seasons and the diverse amount of activities available.