Bea Heinz, owner of Jefferson Tent & Awning Co., St. Louis, Mo., has a bit of experience in the custom canvas industry—51 years to be exact. Established in 1911, the majority of Jefferson Tent & Awning’s business consists of the custom manufacture of commercial and residential canvas awnings as well as all types of canvas products. Heinz has been associated with the company for 51 years and sole owner for the past 30 years. Here, Heinz talks about her involvement with the industry, the challenges her business faces and the perks that come along with hard work and dedication.
How long have you worked at the company?
I, personally, have been associated with the company for 51 years, sole owner for the last 30 years. I have also been lucky to have both my daughter and my son-in-law working for me for more than 30 years. I have five beautiful grandchildren, all of whom have worked or continue to work for me over summer breaks and during the school year when possible. We are truly a family business.
The most significant technology I have seen develop over my years as a small business owner is the computer. It has greatly impacted how we handle the bidding of projects. Being able to give the customer a visual of a proposed project has greatly enhanced our bidding process and competitiveness. The computer has given us speedier communications with customers and vendors and made the processing of all the information necessary to running a business much more efficient.
How did you get involved with the industry?
I applied for a job in the industry many years ago. Eventually I purchased the business and I’ve been
here ever since.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
Outside of work my favorite hobby is golf. For many years I have been fortunate enough to golf two mornings a week during the golf season. It is a great stress reliever as well as great exercise.
what are the biggest challenges you face?
During the summer months it’s a lot of work to get people satisfied and to get the work done and out on time. Summer months are so busy for us—everyone wants things done at once. The biggest challenge for us is getting everything done on time.
What are the biggest rewards?
In 2014 we were awarded Neighborhood Business of the Year by the St. Louis Development Corporation.
WHY DID YOU JOIN IFAI? WHICH SERVICES/BENEFITS DO YOU USE THE MOST?
The association with the canvas industry is the reason we joined IFAI. Our business is a lot of word of mouth, but if we have questions to ask there are places to go and people to contact.