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Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Riad Shakeer, owner of Calypso Marine Canvas Ltd. and Calypso Fabric Architecture Caribbean Ltd.

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You have two separate companies: Calypso Marine Canvas and Calypso Fabric Architecture Caribbean. Do you share resources for the two companies?

Right now the two companies are residing in the same building and sharing equipment, and the office staff and management staff, though the accounts are separate. We have applied and have been approved to set up the fabric structures business in a light industrial park that is currently under construction. That will give us more space, which we need for this business, and at that point we will separate the companies completely.

Why is it so important to establish branding for the two companies?

When we moved away from auto and furniture upholstery and established the marine business, I changed the name of the company from Shakeer & Sons to Calypso Marine Canvas. The problem we saw happening was that there were other furniture upholstery shops using the same materials for both marine and furniture, and that you cannot do. In the case of expanding to include lightweight structures in the marine business, we saw that we were losing awning and fabric structure business to the other canvas shops—we needed to make it clear to our clients what it is that we offer, and that we have the expertise to back it up.

Sigrid Tornquist is a freelance author and editor based in St. Paul, Minn. She is also the associate editor of InTents magazine.

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