Generations at work

May 1, 2015

We’re not from different planets, though sometimes it seems so. There are ways to work together effectively. When you interview that candidate, do you invite the parents? Forty- and 50-something jaws might drop, but executive recruiter Eric Herrenkohl says two of his big-company clients want to talk to Mom and Dad at the interview as …

From surviving to thriving

Dan Hooks propels his organization to new heights by maximizing regional opportunities and building a management team. “Surviving the latest recession taught us several lessons about the financial health of our company and what we needed to change in order to go from surviving to thriving,” says Dan Hooks, CEO of Party Reflections Inc., Charlotte, …

Productivity paired

April 1, 2015

Father and son team Stewart and Ross Brown embrace the challenge of change by making the most of their strengths.

Your taxes at work

March 1, 2015

The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014.

The passage of the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 late last year retroactively extended 54 tax breaks—but only for the 2014 tax year. The so-called “tax extenders” law opens the door for specialty fabric professionals to claim many of these popular (but temporary) tax incentives when 2014 tax returns are filed, or even after they have been filed…

Good better best

Charles Webster uses lean techniques to continuously improve production and efficiency. What we try to do better than other companies is give our customers more than they ask for, sooner than they expect it, in higher quality than they’re used to,” says Charles Webster, president and CEO of DOWCO® Inc., Manitowoc, Wis. “When we are …

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State of the Industry 2015: Part 2

It was a year of respectable growth in the specialty fabrics industry and hope for an even better future, grounded in promising statistics. IFAI surveys specialty fabrics industry end product manufacturers (EPMs) once a year to learn how they are doing and what they anticipate for the future. All but one of the traditional end …

Your taxes at work

The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. The passage of the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 late last year retroactively extended 54 tax breaks—but only for the 2014 tax year. The so-called “tax extenders” law opens the door for specialty fabric professionals to claim many of these popular (but temporary) tax incentives when 2014 …

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The value of collaboration

Turning today’s students into tomorrow’s engaged and educated industry professionals. While textile students are the future designers and manufacturers for the textile industry, students in areas such as architecture and product and graphic design are our future textile specifiers. Multi-disciplinary design has become a buzzword in education, but unless students are convinced this can help …

Stress fractures

February 1, 2015

Don’t let workplace stress undermine your operations. Fortunately, headline-making instances of deadly violence are a rare consequence of workplace stress. More often, it simmers just beneath the surface, eating away at morale, productivity and profits. And if you think that workplace stress doesn’t exist in your business, think again. “Emotional pain exists in every organization …

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Succession planning

From a financial standpoint, selling or transferring your business requires setting and communicating a clear set of goals and procedures to avoid risk and possible conflict. Sooner or later, everyone thinks about retirement. For those who own a closely-held or family textile products business, retirement is more than just a matter of deciding not to …

Trendsetter

Vern Schaefer is what is known as an “early adopter,” trying new equipment as soon as it’s available. As he transitions company leadership to his daughter, he’s still setting trends. “I don’t believe in being locked into one way of doing things,” says Vernon Schaefer, MFC, CEO of Glawe Awnings & Tents, Fairborn, Ohio. “If …

Lease or buy?

January 1, 2015

New rules may make a difference in your decision. Whether to buy or lease new equipment is a tough question for many specialty fabric professionals to answer, even as credit becomes more readily available. There is no one correct answer to fit every situation or business, but compared to the simplicity of buying, leasing is …

Rest stops on the road to success

David Snoad implements systems and empowers employees so his business can flourish—and he can take a vacation. “I’ve been away six months of this calendar year and we’re about to have our most profitable year ever,” says David Snoad, managing director of Pinz Pty. Ltd., Seaton, Australia. “Because of my time away, I’m more productive …

Create a self-sustaining business

December 1, 2014

Stay on track with the Entrepreneurial Operating System®. Are you currently experiencing one or more of these common frustrations of owning a business? You feel your business is controlling you. If you didn’t need people (employees, vendors, partners…)— your business would run beautifully. There’s never enough profit. You have hit a plateau in the growth …

Everything’s connected

Mr. Sadao Izumi moves the tent industry forward—by keeping the big picture in mind. “There are two Japanese characters that make up the word ‘manage’—and these characters represent how interdependent the process of running a business is,” says Mr. Sadao Izumi, owner and president of Izumi Co. Ltd., Toyoma, Japan, and chairman of the Japan …

The human factors

November 1, 2014

Dr. Aris Makris and his team keep their sights on the end user when developing personal protective equipment for Soldiers. “A lot of the necessary skills for this job grow from being in contact with the end user community,” says Aris Makris, Ph.D., vice president of research and development (R&D) and CTO for Med-Eng in …

The secret sharer

October 1, 2014

There are some not-so-obvious benefits to attending industry events. You already know why your upcoming convention and trade show is important: it’s a chance to discover new products and new suppliers, discuss emerging industry trends and best practices, and learn from the people who make up your industry, as they learn from you. New products, …

Boldly genuine

Bob Jacquart uses the “power of pluck” to expand his company and build a strong brand identity. “If you’re going to really ramp up your business you have to have that world of brand strategy experts look you over,” says Bob Jacquart, CEO of Jacquart Fabric Products Inc. (JFP) in Ironwood, Mich. “You have to …

The next generation

September 1, 2014

How to develop future leadership and ensure a smooth transition for your business. Over the past eight years, I’ve had the opportunity to research hundreds of family businesses to better understand what makes some family businesses thrive over generations while others fail. One thing has become clear: active development of the next generation is critical …

Entrepreneur in action

Steve Frost advances his company by standardizing processes—and being willing to change. We try to develop best practices and focus on repeating them, which includes making lists and standardizing problems,” says Steve Frost, president of Stamford Tent & Event Services, Stamford, Conn. “But you can write all the forms you want—they’re not going to cover …

Working with difficult clients

August 1, 2014

Pre-solve problems by anticipating conflicts before they arise. By Melynda Norman-Lee So you have a client you don’t like to work with. Have you taken the time to figure out why? What is it about working with this client that bothers you? Is it the client’s lack of communication? Or too much communication from the …

Economic influence

A bill for women-owned small businesses; SBA award winners; new AAFA president. Legislation to encourage women’s business ownership and give women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) more opportunities to win federal contracts was introduced in late June by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D–NH), Maria Cantwell (D–WA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D–NY). The Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act …

STOPfakes

Safeguard your intellectual property, in the U.S. and overseas. By Dr. James Chan Theft of intellectual property (IP) causes U.S. manufacturers and service organizations $25 billion in lost sales and 75,000 jobs each year. This is a central message in a series of nationwide “STOPfakes Road Shows” sponsored by the U.S. Commercial Service, the trade …

Protect your people

July 1, 2014

And keep workers’ compensation costs under control. By William J. Lynott If you’re a typical specialty fabrics business owner, workers’ compensation costs—or the threat of them—can quickly become a major expense burden. Almost every business in the United States that has employees must deal with the cost of workers’ compensation; it’s a perennial issue, but …

Trust the process

James Gallagher manages projects from conception to completion–by paying attention to detail and practicing transparency. By Sigrid Tornquist At the end of the day our work isn’t only about making a sale; it’s about engaging in relationships where we understand client application, identify and capture projects’ needs and then see them all the way through,” …

NWBC public meeting: Innovative strategies for women to raise capital

June 17, 2014

June 25 webinar to feature Tina Tchen, chief of staff to Michelle Obama The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) will hold its quarterly virtual public meeting June 25 to communicate its efforts in advancing the women’s entrepreneurship agenda. The focus is women entrepreneurs’ access to capital, one of four main pillars of NWBC’s portfolio. Special …

New rules for repair

June 1, 2014

The IRS has issued final regulations: Is it a deductible repair or a capital expenditure? By Mark E. Battersby Since the inception of the Internal Revenue Code, the IRS and specialty fabric professionals have often been at odds over whether expenditures made are currently deductible as repair costs, or whether they must be capitalized and …

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The next steps

Carol Racine takes on one challenge after another as she and her husband build a business and make plans for a sewing school. “I know my limitations—but I’m always challenging those limits,” says Carol Racine, president of Racine Design in Jacksonville, Fla. “I don’t let the fact that I haven’t done a certain type of …

First impressions…last chance?

May 1, 2014

First (and fast) impressions can have lasting impacts on customers and business relationships. First impressions are often lasting impressions. When you meet a business acquaintance for the first time—a customer, a colleague, a vendor or a manager—you make an impression on that person. When a potential client or customer (or future partner) comes into contact …

Supporting small business

SBA awards funding entrepreneurship training for veterans; Surety Bond Guarantee program contracts increase 61 percent in 2013. As part of its “Boots to Business” program, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that it has awarded a $3 million grant to Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) to deliver entrepreneurship education …

The structure of success

Jeremy Calhoun builds strong dealer networks to support customer service. By Sigrid Tornquist Our strength is in our structure,” says Jeremy Calhoun, president of Calhoun Super Structure Ltd., Tara, Ont., Canada. “And that structure includes our diligent pursuit of excellence in product design, manufacture and supply—and also our ability to build long-term, long-standing relationships with …

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Sharp focus, broad impact

April 1, 2014

Hal Lapping tightens his company’s focus to make quality products affordable. We remain focused on our core products, and because we stay focused we offer the best quality products at the most competitive prices,” says Hal Lapping, president of Economy Tent Intl. (an Anchor company), Miami. Fla. “And part of that mind set is that …

Seven steps to success

A professional shares his formula for improved sales and customer relationships that last. By Bill Foster There is certainly no lack of advice on how to increase your sales success. Books and seminars can be counted by the hundreds, and many of these are quite good. Firsthand experience working for others in sales positions and …

No guessing game

March 1, 2014

Getting good at estimating taxes. By Mark E. Battersby It will come as no surprise to anyone that Uncle Sam wants taxes paid in full during the course of the year. Avoiding the penalties associated with guessing wrong about estimated tax payments is easy—with some preparation. Any person, and any business—large or small—can usually avoid …

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Positively powerful

Kisha Moldovan builds relationships with sincerity and enthusiasm to boost business and advance the industry. “I don’t think about other awning companies as competition or in any way as a negative, because the more people who are spreading the word about awnings, the more we all have an opportunity to be successful,” says Kisha Moldovan, …

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Making an artful dodger

February 1, 2014

Jason Iverson’s approach is anything but business as usual. Jason Iverson is passionate about his business. It’s obvious when he talks about the details of his designs and how he works with his customers. He has been able to combine two of his passions—product design and sailing—to launch Iverson’s Design Inc., a successful business designing …

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The failsafe questions

John Conroy ensures project success by asking the right questions. “We design projects by thinking about how they could fail,” says John Conroy, owner of House of Canvas, Ottawa, Ont., Canada. “By considering all the things that could possibly go wrong, before even starting the project, we minimize surprises.” While in high school, Conroy began …

The important role of credit

January 1, 2014

Why you need to establish and protect your business credit. By William J. Lynott In the specialty fabrics industry, credit used wisely can be a profitable friend; credit used carelessly can be a destructive enemy. When your business has an excellent credit score, you are likely to be offered the most favorable rates if you …

Trends you should watch, from the Marks Group P.C.

December 2, 2013

By Galynn Nordstrom “Successful people think ahead,” says Gene Marks, president of sales and marketing consultant company The Marks Group P. C. Speaking on political, economic and tech trends at IFAI Specialty Fabrics Expo 2013 in Orlando, Fla., he emphasized three basic things that should be on every business person’s mind. First—watch C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite Public …

Health care: ACA, on the way

December 1, 2013

Is this the way to do health insurance? Stay tuned. By Marc Hequet Kevin Yonce has gone to a lot of work trying to figure it out. He may still be uncertain—and you may know the feeling. The chief executive at TCT&A Industries, an awning maker and tent renter in Urbana, Ill. (and the immediate …

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Advancing small business growth

SBA lending activity in FY 2013 tops $29 billion. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced its third highest year of SBA lending to date, surpassed only by two record years of supporting more than $30 billion in FY 2011 and 2012. In FY 2013, SBA supported more than $29 billion in lending to …

Dave Clarke’s good business

Dave Clarke’s vision for The Industrial Fabrics Association International starts with strengthening its market-specific groups–known as Divisions. By Sigrid Tornquist “Generating new revenue streams without losing focus on your mission is a challenge for any organization but it can be done,” says Dave Clarke, incoming chair of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) and global …

Business holidays and tax deductions

November 1, 2013

Parties, gifts, happy workers and tax deductions. By Mark E. Battersby The season for gift-giving and holiday parties is fast approaching. And although many specialty fabrics products business owners and managers clearly know how to celebrate and show their appreciation to both customers and employees, few are aware that Uncle Sam, in the form of …

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Sales support driving the way

October 1, 2013

Alex Kouzmanoff translates customer service into customer satisfaction—by listening. By Sigrid Tornquist “When someone is totally incentivized by sales, there is no backup after the sale is made,” says Alex Kouzmanoff, vice president, Aztec Tents, Torrance, Calif. “We wanted to focus our sales efforts on service and making sure that, whether or not the sale …

Estate planning primer

September 1, 2013

Planning and solid decision-making will help protect assets for the future. By Larry Oxenham Everyone can benefit from good estate planning. Single, married, a parent with children, a business owner—the scenarios are as varied as the lives we lead, but the principles are the same. Effective estate planning ensures that you can control and preserve …

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New tools, old school

A long-term family business embraces new methods to set the stage for future growth. By Jarrett Schechner Awning Works Inc. serves customers throughout our home state of Florida and nationwide. We recently expanded into general contracting with a new start-up firm called ABuilt Inc. Using today’s tools to build on a strong company background has …

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Win/win success through teamwork

Andrea Lampson and her husband Mark join with employees to retool a struggling business into a solid and vibrant enterprise. By Sigrid Tornquist “I remember the first time I walked onto the production floor and thought: ‘Oh, my.’ There was no water cooler, no refrigerator and no air conditioning,” says Andrea Lampson, executive vice president …

Bad debt and tax savings

August 1, 2013

Every uncollected debt will cost you money, but many business debts can be claimed as tax deductions—if you’re careful. By Mark E. Battersby What business owner hasn’t suffered from customers that do not or cannot pay? Accounts receivable are not always collected in full for a variety of reasons. Sometimes customers simply evade payment, and …

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Dave Elliot shows strength in economic turmoil

Dave Elliot distinguishes his business from the competition by slowing down and keeping strict standards. By Sigrid Tornquist “The past years’ economic challenges have not been a problem for my business—in fact, I think they’ve made my business even stronger because I’ve separated my business from the competition,” says Dave Elliot, owner of David’s Custom …

Investing in new equipment for tax relief

July 1, 2013

Large purchases have become easier and less expensive thanks to new tax breaks and financing options. By Mark E. Battersby Thanks to the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, managers, executives and owners who have hesitated or postponed making capital investments for their specialty fabrics businesses through the recent economic downturn might now want to …