Stephan Kåmark is president of Oxnard, Calif.-based Advanced Canvas & Upholstery Services. The Channel Islands Harbor shop specializes in flooring, enclosures, covers, solar power and repairs in the marine, industrial, aviation and military sectors, offering quality fabric and hardware from the U.S. and Europe. Here, Kåmark talks about his biggest influence, the rewards that come with the job and how he broke the mold in an industry full of tradition.
How did you get involved in the company/industry?
I purchased the canvas shop in 2014 as I was looking for a different business. I took a little hit in the construction industry, where I had been since high school, where I started my carpentry basics that led me into being a general contractor since 2005. I spent the last ten years working on wood, stone and solar projects. So I took on an opportunity for a change.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Good help seems to be the biggest challenge. I’m also challenged occasionally with the different characteristics of the different fabrics for certain jobs, but the reps have been very helpful.
What are the biggest rewards?
Building something that is considered artistic and gets sailed around for everyone to see and gets appreciated by your customer. Creating ideas and installing them on boats/ yachts has been an impressive challenge. There’s a higher level of respect as you protect and beautify someone’s hard-earned money.
What do you anticipate for the industry in the next five years? Ten?
We just entered the digital field in the canvas world and, like the other industries, I am going to try to keep up. There’s a broad spectrum of perfection and time saving that is achievable in the digital market. Maybe the next frontier will be robots that can sew?
Why did you join IFAI? Which services/benefits do you use the most?
I joined IFAI just before the Anaheim show in 2015. My vendors highly suggested it. The experience was overwhelming. Then one conversation with Steve Szenay turned into a conversation with Mike Erickson and that turned into a massive support group of information and being able to now offer EZ2CY enclosures in our area. The benefit is being able to keep up with the Joneses. I’m “the new guy” in an industry of generational hand-me-downs of tricks and methods and style, so it’s helpful to be brought up to speed on new materials and hardware ahead of my competition.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
When I’m not working I’m around the ocean fishing, racing sailboats and surfing. That is all relative to when I can get a break from our newest little addition to our family, nine-month-old Olivia Rose. So hobbies have become dreams.
Who has been your biggest influence, personally or professionally?
My mom has paved my work ethic. “Being passionate and driven to succeed at what you put yourself out to accomplish” is her motto.
What is number one on your bucket list?
Number one on the bucket list has been achieved and that was a seven day exploration of the Galápagos Islands. Number two is Macchu Picchu.