Going the distance: Rob Kotowski rebuilds the family business

December 1, 2018

We don’t anticipate that the completion of a project is the last time we talk with our clients,” says Rob Kotowski, owner and president of Lake Shore Boat Top Co., St. Clair Shores, Mich. “We typically follow up with them a couple of weeks after they’ve taken delivery of their projects to make sure they’re …

A commitment to growth: Don Alhanati uses automation and lean manufacturing to ensure market diversity and growth for CustomFab USA

November 1, 2018

One of the keys to our success is our investment in advanced automated equipment,” says Don Alhanati, founder and president of CustomFab USA in Garden Grove, Calif. “That, and the fact that we have a creative staff. We are always looking at ways to do things smarter.” Alhanati had worked 12 years at a manufacturing …

Riding the pendulum of industry change: Awnings by Bigley and Hogshire

October 1, 2018

“We have to be diverse and knowledgeable about the various types of products people are making in the industry,” says Taylor Bigley, co-owner and president of Awnings by Bigley & Hogshire, Hampton Roads, Va. “What’s in demand changes—the pendulum swings each way—and we have to react to it.” The roots of Awnings by Bigley & …

Harold Warner and Dynamic Air Shelters develop larger and tougher inflatable structures

September 1, 2018

“I love the word resilience,” says Harold Warner, majority owner and president of Dynamic Air Shelters in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “Whether you’re operating on a physical plane or a psychological plane, resilience enables you to deflect danger and harm. What our company has done is expand and elevate the state of inflatable resilience in response to …

Brenda Hagerty and Porcupine Canvas: sales and customer-focused marketing

July 1, 2018

“Cold calls are a thing of the past,” says Brenda Hagerty, co-owner and president of Porcupine Canvas Manufacturing Ltd. in Boucherville, Quebec, Canada. “Calling someone out of the blue to try to sell them something just doesn’t work in today’s industry. What clients want are our feet on the ground.” Hagerty’s history with Porcupine Canvas …

Geoff Kilmer at PhotoWorksGroup matches technology with clients to stay successful

June 1, 2018

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 …

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

May 1, 2018

“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 …

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 …

David Murray at Fiesta Tents goes for the gold

March 1, 2018

Running a business is hard work. There’s always a time when you’ve got to change the way you’re doing things,” says David Murray, founder and president of Fiesta Tents Ltd. in Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Canada. “Every year you have to review your business—you have to review and correct.” The inspiration for starting a business came in …