Playing it safer: performance and protection for sports and recreation

June 1, 2018

Today, people of all ages are embracing active lifestyles: playing team sports, hitting the slopes, biking, climbing and hiking in all kinds of weather conditions, testing their mettle in boxing rings and martial arts classes or going for the gentler forms of exercise, like yoga. People are on the move, including retiring baby boomers who …

Geoff Kilmer at PhotoWorksGroup matches technology with clients to stay successful

We focus on identifying industries versus just finding customers to generate new business,” says Geoff Kilmer, founder and CEO of PhotoWorksGroup, Charlottesville, Va. “When we specialize in an industry, we become better known within it, which results in more references so we don’t have to sell as hard—and we can concentrate on doing a good …

Selling shade, comfort, health and weather protection-in style

Who could have predicted, even 10 years ago, that Amazon would have driven shade and awning companies, let alone everyday retail stores, into changing their operations to meet the demand for overnight response rates? Yet today, more than we’d like to believe, sales behemoths like the online portal Amazon and similar services have taught consumers …

How to succeed in the health care market

It’s probably safe to say that producing fabrics for the health care industry involves challenges unmatched by any other market. To start with, protective properties obviously need to be a key component of all medical fabrics, given the presence of pathogens in health care settings. At any given time, one out of 25 hospital patients …

Help wanted: the next generation of manufacturing workers

May 1, 2018

The dearth of skilled labor is an increasingly common lament heard from manufacturers of all stripes. It’s not a sudden or inflated complaint. According to recent data provided by the Manufacturing Institute (the Institute, or MI), an affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) based in Washington, D.C., 364,000 manufacturing jobs are going unfilled. …

Mike, Joe and Dan Reilly: leadership transition for Miami Awning

“A lot of what I’ve accomplished in this industry was about survival—being able to have what I need to get the job done,” says Mike Reilly, owner and CEO of Miami Awning Co. in Miami, Fla. “Now, my aim is to convey what knowledge I can to my sons to make it easier for them …

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Strategies for keeping busy year-round

Roller coasters belong in amusement parks, not on the balance sheet; yet for many specialty fabricator businesses susceptible to seasonal ups and downs, it may sometimes seem as if the operation is being taken for exactly that kind of ride. Not every business is prone to periodic slowdowns in work. But for those that are, …

Amy Poe builds Wyckam from a marine canvas business into a custom sewing shop

April 1, 2018

As a small business owner you have to be able to adapt to many different situations and needs,” says Amy Poe, owner of Wyckam in Portland, Ore. “You pretty much need to be able to do everything. Even if you hire something out you still have to have a basic understanding of what it is …

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Fabric graphics dazzle outdoors

Branding has become a major fixation. From people who carefully curate their social media postings to large corporations with entire brand-focused departments and everything in between, it seems as if everyone is intent on cementing public perception of their brands. And although we’ve all likely encountered individuals who are obsessed with their “personal brand,” for …

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Shade-product manufacturers are making outdoor spaces more comfortable—and smarter

While many manufacturers concentrate on making smart products that give people convenient and luxurious control over functions in their homes and businesses, others are finding ways to make the outdoors equally responsive and comfortable to lifestyles in the Internet of Things age. A robotics company in Pasadena, Calif., is, in fact, throwing all its weight …