William Miller is the owner, manager and fabricator of Colonville Canvas, a Clare, Mich.-based company that specializes in marine covers, enclosures, bimini tops and upholstery. Miller grew up learning about the industry in his father’s shop. He opened his own shop in 2014 and has carried on the family tradition of making quality products. Here, Miller talks about the rewards and challenges of running a small business and how he continues to put to good use the “upholstery in his blood.”
How did you get involved in the company/industry?
I grew up in my dad’s shop assisting with anything that came in the door (mostly marine) in Wisconsin. In March 2014, I followed in his footsteps and opened my own shop. In October 2015, we moved to central Michigan. We cater primarily toward boats 30 feet or less.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Handling a heavy workload with a small shop. We try to be careful with what we take on outside of the marine industry; however, we aim to treat all customers the same.
What are the biggest rewards?
Watching my employee succeed is very rewarding. I also like having the ability to turn my clients’
dreams into reality.
Why did you join IFAI? Which services/benefits do you use the most?
I joined IFAI because I wanted to be connected with the industry. Specialty Fabrics Review magazine is a great source of information; I gather all I can from it.
Who has been your biggest influence, personally or professionally?
My dad has always been my biggest influence. He was a learn-it-yourself type of guy. We have our own unique way of doing upholstery and I learned it all from him. He taught me everything I know.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
My dad always said quality before quantity. Making a better quality product that will satisfy your client is more important than cheaper prices.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
When I’m not in the shop, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
What was the first job you ever had?
I worked in the woods as a logger cutting down trees for a couple years. Next to canvas and upholstery, that’s my favorite job.
What is number one on your bucket list?
I want to become a Master Fabric Craftsman or go see the boats down in Florida, whichever comes first.