Job costing

February 1, 2018

It’s a fairly safe bet that not many fabricators started their operations because they wanted to work on spreadsheets. But like it or not, when you hang out a shingle, only part of your work will be designing a custom awning or reupholstering seats on a pontoon boat. Figuring out how to charge for those …

Working with architects

January 1, 2018

Key to the success of a productive partnership: exploration, preparation, communication and education, with a firm grasp of details and a final vision for the project. Fabrics and architecture have been partners for millennia and have worked together to create some of the most iconic, useful and beautiful structures in the world—from traditional Mongolian yurts …

Marine tension shade options

Marine fabricators help boat owners expand shading options with stretched fabric. It could easily be argued that the pleasures of boating are best appreciated on a deck rather than in a cabin. But protection from sun exposure requires more than that provided by a wide-brimmed hat. With that kind of coverage in mind, boat owners …

Creating a welcoming workplace to retain employees

To prevent employee turnover, create a workplace that provides continuous learning, competitive pay and benefits and open-minded management. Like many industries that rely on skilled workers, the specialty fabrics industry is facing a shortage of qualified personnel. As manufacturers and fabricators develop recruitment efforts to attract the next-generation workforce, management must simultaneously find strategies to …

Inspiration-driven marine fabrication, and sheltering San Francisco’s homeless

Having a really good life is not financially driven. It’s inspiration driven,” says Liz Diaz, MFC, owner of North Beach Marine Canvas in San Francisco, Calif. “Working on and around the water is a singularly lovely employment. I am inspired all the time by my location, by the San Francisco Design Center, by my tools …

On the march

December 1, 2017

For several years the U.S. military market has been characterized by base closures and troop drawdowns, which has had an admittedly dampening effect on the need for and spending on military textiles. The United States isn’t the only geographic market for these products, nor are these textiles limited to just our military; purchasers are found …

Protect and conserve potable water

If you’ve had a glass of clean water today, you can likely thank a fabric-based product. Engineered fabrics, membranes and geosynthetics perform behind-the-scenes work to ensure that communities have access to adequate potable water and clean waterways. Creative fabric uses also hold promise in delivering clean water in emerging markets—a meteoric task considering that 783 …

Narrow fabrics’ widening reach

Corporate administrators tend to base management decisions on the Pareto Principle (80 percent of business comes from 20 percent of the clientele). Textile engineer Connie Huffa argues that can be a shortsighted way of thinking. “Opportunities lie in the 20 percent—the business we all would have turned down 10 to 20 years ago,” says the …

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Finding solutions: teamwork and initiative

Research shows that cross-functional collaboration can improve the ability to solve complex problems, deliver higher quality products and services faster, and boost customer satisfaction. To see these kinds of results means building a team that listens to customers and works across departments to find solutions. At Cooley Group, president and CEO Dan Dwight emphasizes the …

Bill Coppins turns a canvas shop into a design and development powerhouse

“We keep experimenting with a product until we get it right, which is really what we’re about,” says Bill Coppins, owner and director of W.A. Coppins Ltd. in Motueka, New Zealand. “With jobbing work you’re always competing against someone down the road. So I thought: Let’s get out there and develop our own product that …