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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

See what a real Cherokee looks like! Soon to be as well-known as McDonald's!

Quick Starter
by Jonathan Sweet

In 1997, Jose Luna started Cherokee Windows & Sunrooms with $6,000 and a used Chevy S-10 given to him by his father. "I started out in the window business selling them," Luna says. "From watching the business, I saw this was a wide open industry. You can still find your niche and make money."

For Luna, that niche was high-volume work in replacement windows, siding and enclosures. He started with a showroom in Evansville, IN, opened a location in Indianapolis, IN two years ago and earlier this year opened a third store in Louisville, KY.

The Power of the Indian

When Luna started the business in 1997, he knew he faced two challenges: he was young (24) and a minority.

"I had to break down a lot of barriers when I started Cherokee," Luna says. "There were a lot of people who told me I wouldn't succeed, but I was motivated and driven."

From the beginning, Luna didn't want to be selling his products door-to-door or through telemarketing.

"I knew I had to advertise and separate myself," he says. "I had to find that niche and get them to call us."

To accomplish this, Luna set out to build a strong brand for his company.

"Image is very important," he says. "Perception is reality."

The first step in building that image was selecting the name Cherokee.

"A name like ‘Cherokee' gives the impression of strength, of stability," Luna says. "I knew I didn't' want to be ‘Jose's Home Improvement.'

"You need the customer to trust you, and we've built that brand and that trust in a very short time. The name and the logo have been very important in that."

The logo, a drawing of an American Indian chief, appears on everything the company has, from letterhead to jobsite signs, to the shirts the installers and salespeople wear on the job.

"When you see that logo, you know it's Cherokee," says Luna. "We want it to be like the golden arches of McDonalds."

The branding has been the single biggest reason behind the company's rapid growth, Luna says. The company has become so well-established in the last few years, that its not that uncommon for people to assume the company has been around for decades, or that it's part of a huge national chain.

"Around the office, we say it's ‘The Power of the Indian,' " Luna says.

Related links
The big chief

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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