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Turning engineering into art: the heart of passionate design

July 1, 2013

Nic Goldsmith uses his architectural vision to design innovative fabric structures. By Sigrid Tornquist “I think there are a lot of areas where fabric technology could be applied and it’s not,” says Nic Goldsmith, FAIA, LEED, AP, senior principal of FTL Design and Engineering Studio in New York, N.Y. “Part of my role as an …

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Raising the bar from tent rentals to event services partner

June 1, 2013

Dan Nolan III expands services to bring clients what they need and want. By Sigrid Tornquist “We don’t want to plan your event; we want to support your event,” says Dan Nolan III, managing partner of Tents Unlimited Inc., Marietta, Ga., and chairman of IFAI’s Tent Rental Division. “We offer turnkey services so clients don’t …

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Ron Houle builds a bridge to the Capitol

May 1, 2013

Ron Houle works for defense procurement funding at the highest levels of U.S. government. By Sigrid Tornquist “To be successful in defense procurement it’s important to understand what the Department of Defense (DoD) needs, how to design to that need, how projects get funded and how they are justified in Congress,” says Ron Houle, vice …

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Cindy Boersema adapts to the unexpected—and succeeds

April 1, 2013

Cindy Boersema takes an unexpected partnership dissolution and builds a sound sole proprietorship. By Sigrid Tornquist “I think the most significant lesson I’ve learned over the past couple of years is not to get too comfortable,” says Cindy Boersema, owner of The Nautical Needle in Holland, Mich. “Being a business owner is not about relying …

Michael König plans the next move

March 1, 2013

Michael König focuses on business planning and growth—every week. By Sigrid Tornquist “You have to know where you’re going in business. You have to have a plan,” says Michael König, president of OFPANZ, New Zealand’s branch of IFAI; and owner and president of Sunshade Group NZ Ltd., incorporating Rainbow Shade Products, 0800 Sunshade and Douglas …

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Fred Tracy brings creative solutions

February 1, 2013

Fred Tracy brings creative solutions to his work in the tent industry. By Sigrid Tornquist Change is our company strategy,” says Fred Tracy, owner of Fred’s Tents and Canopies Inc., Stillwater, N.Y. “You can’t be like a horse in a harness race, with blinders on—you have to keep your eyes open and find ideas you …

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Kevin Kelly turns process to profit

January 1, 2013

Kevin Kelly increases productivity by implementing forecasting, planning and process strategies. By Sigrid Tornquist “Once we started opening our eyes to process, we were really able to take a big leap forward in productivity,” says Kevin Kelly, MFC, IFM, CPP, president of Globe Canvas Products Co., Yeadon, Pa. “Today we’re able to build more product …

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Marc Shellshear puts shade expertise and management skills to work

December 1, 2012

Nicknamed Dr. Shade, Marc Shellshear is an employee who thinks like a business owner—putting shade expertise and management skills to work. By Sigrid Tornquist “If you can’t put yourself in the shoes of the person speaking you’re not going to understand what they want,” says Marc Shellshear, IFM, senior vice president of administration for USA …

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Wm. J. Mills & Co. grows through the generations

November 1, 2012

A three-generational take on the Wm. J. Mills & Co. family business. By Sigrid Tornquist As IFAI celebrates its 100th anniversary, it’s clear that the association is only as strong as its members. For more than 100 years, many current member companies have been shaping their businesses, the association and the industry. Changes in the …

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Gary Barnes solves customer problems—and creates opportunities

October 1, 2012

Gary Barnes taps into tenacity and creativity to solve customer problems. By Sigrid Tornquist “In the Navy when the ship’s underway and there’s a problem, you can’t just say ‘I’ve got a headache and I’ve got to go home.’ You’ve got to do something,” says Gary Barnes, MFC, CDR, USN-Ret., co-owner of Tropical J’s Inc. …

Amit Kapoor finds solutions with integrated technology

September 1, 2012

Amit Kapoor applies integrated technology to meet the needs of first responders. By Sigrid Tornquist “I think the best ideas come when you’re sitting with clients away from a work environment, having a beer or lunch, and asking, ‘How’s everything going?’” says Amit Kapoor, president of First Line Technology in Chantilly, Va. “That’s when clients …

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Jeri Perillo turns walk-in requests into revenue

August 1, 2012

Jeri Perillo has had her share of odd walk-in requests—followed by growing revenue streams. By Sigrid Tornquist “The relationships we’ve built that have resulted in revenue streams weren’t something we went looking for; they came to us,” says Jeri Perillo, president of Custom Canvas of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. “And I think that if you …

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Gary Buermann finds a better way to do business

July 1, 2012

Gary Buermann designs shop layout for efficiency. By Sigrid Tornquist “When you tour a big awning shop you can see what money can buy in terms of equipment, how much time it will save and what you might expect when your shop grows,” says Gary Buermann, MFC, president of G & J Awning and Canvas, …

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Jim Carroll Jr. understands the cost of quality

June 1, 2012

Jim Carroll Jr. knows how to make a premium product—and price it right. By Sigrid Tornquist “Being busy is one thing. Making money is another,” says Jim Carroll Jr., MFC, owner of Hoover Canvas Products Co., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. “So many people see neighboring businesses selling product for less and say to themselves: If they …

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Chandler Clark beats the recession with hard work and ingenuity

May 1, 2012

Chandler Clark relies on hard work and ingenuity to build a thriving business during the recession. By Sigrid Tornquist “In the Navy they call it deckplate leadership,” says Chandler Clark, owner of Signature CanvasMakers in Hampton, Va. “It’s a leadership style that involves teamwork, common sense and taking care of your people—and I try to …

Cheryl Gomes emphasizes safety throughout the manufacturing process

April 1, 2012

Cheryl Gomes tracks quality and reliability from process through life-saving product. By Sigrid Tornquist “If you make a mistake when you’re developing safety and protective products, people could be injured or die,” says Cheryl Gomes, lead principal materials engineer for QinetiQ North America’s Survivability Group in Waltham, Mass. “So it becomes even more important to …

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Bryan Loane keeps his 197-year-old business focused and flexible

March 1, 2012

Bryan Loane grows his family’s company by planning ahead and thinking on his feet. By Sigrid Tornquist “We’re unusual because we’re probably the oldest tent company in the country,” says Bryan Loane, president of Loane Brothers Inc. in Baltimore, Md. “A lot of people feel that’s really important and in a way it is—but on …

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Ken Robinson’s commitment to employees pays off

February 1, 2012

Ken Robinson leverages economics and human resource strategies to increase productivity. By Sigrid Tornquist “One of the most universally disliked classes I took while pursuing my MBA at Tulane University was one about human resources,” says Ken Robinson, president of Engineered Textile Products Inc. (ETP) in Mobile, Ala. “But even while I was taking the …

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Kathy Schaefer applies science to business

January 1, 2012

Kathy Schaefer draws on a background in psychology for a smooth and productive workflow. By Sigrid Tornquist “Can you imagine sitting at a sewing machine for eight hours a day?” asks Kathy Schaefer, COO of Glawe Awnings and Tents, Fairborn, Ohio. “I learned to sew this past summer and though I’m not all that good …

Kevin Yonce outlines his leadership strategies

December 1, 2011

Kevin Yonce, IFAI’s new chair, identifies three goals to strengthen the specialty fabric industry’s leading association. By Sigrid Tornquist “I was taught early on in my experience with volunteer leadership that you should have between three and five goals in order to be effective,” says Kevin Yonce, MFC, IFM, CPP, newly elected chairman of the …

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Jim Miller unleashes innovation

November 1, 2011

Jim Miller experiments with improbable concepts until they become a reality. By Sigrid Tornquist “We love working with architects because they often have great ideas and challenge us more than anyone else,” says Jim Miller, president of J. Miller Canvas Inc. in Santa Ana, Calif. “Sometimes I think we should probably say ‘no’ to some …

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Alain Perez pushes the limits

October 1, 2011

Alain Perez embraces challenge to create extraordinary temporary structures. By Sigrid Tornquist There came a point in our business when we realized that if we were really going to make a difference for our clients and our company, we had to control the product from design to fabrication to installation,” says Alain Perez, founder and …

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Andy Morse builds a successful business

September 1, 2011

Andy Morse uses opportunities other companies overlook. By Sigrid Tornquist “The business atmosphere right now demands change,” says Andy Morse, IFM, owner and president of Ohio Awning and Manufacturing Co. in Cleveland, Ohio. “You’ve got to constantly be looking for alternatives, innovations and growth opportunities in order to keep an edge.” Keeping that edge is …

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Keith Purves customizes tools to streamline projects

August 1, 2011

By Sigrid Tornquist “It’s usually after I’ve banged my head a few times when facing a problem that I think: There’s got to be an easier way,” says Keith Purves, MFC, owner of Riverside Covers in Ft. Myers, Fla. “And then I just try it.” About five years ago Purves and his wife took over …

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Jerry Grimaud stays ahead of the game

July 1, 2011

Jerry Grimaud risks changing products and policies based on market trends. By Sigrid Tornquist Today’s business challenges are different than they were four years ago,” says Jerry Grimaud, president of Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures Inc. in St. Louis, Mo. “The market is tight, with smaller margins, and as business picks up we have to …

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David Nickerson encourages industry guidelines

June 1, 2011

David Nickerson applies high standards to building fabric structures and encourages industry players to set collective guidelines. By Sigrid Tornquist “At the end of the day, I want to be able to look myself in the mirror,” says David Nickerson, president of Rubb Inc. in Sanford, Maine. “And that means designing to the building code—period.” …

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Terri Madden creatively streamlines workflow

May 1, 2011

Terri Madden streamlines workflow while keeping a creative edge. By Sigrid Tornquist “All of the steps required to achieve Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification placed my business practices under a microscope,” says Terri Madden, MFC, owner of Sand Sea and Air Interiors Inc. in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “The procedures and trail of paperwork leave …

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Wendy Tankard builds the workforce

April 1, 2011

Wendy Tankard inspires and equips apprentices to enter the specialty fabrics industry. By Sigrid Tornquist “Without tradespeople on site we wouldn’t have the knowledge to make our products,” says Wendy Tankard, administration director of Baytex Mfg. Co., Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. “And if we don’t keep training apprentices we won’t have tradespeople on site. Apprentices …

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Mark Mordecai discovers new business opportunities

March 1, 2011

Mark Mordecai engages customers and employees in the process of creating high-performance products. By Sigrid Tornquist “Keeping product lines relevant is really a question of how we can harness the energy and talent of our whole team to make that happen,” says Mark Mordecai, director of business development for Globe Manufacturing LLC, Pittsfield, N.H. “It’s …

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Riad Shakeer builds his company with diversification

February 1, 2011

Riad Shakeer moves his company forward through product diversification. By Sigrid Tornquist As soon as my business started to grow, I started looking for something else to produce,” says Riad Shakeer, owner of Calypso Marine Canvas Ltd. and Calypso Fabric Architecture Caribbean Ltd. in Chaguanas, Trinidad. “I’ve always had that intent to go further. What …

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Bob Campbell gets it just right

January 1, 2011

Bob Campbell ignores the competition and focuses on his best small business strategies. By Sigrid Tornquist I don’t worry about the competition. They can do whatever they want to do,” says Bob Campbell, MFC, president of Mt. Lebanon Awning in Presto, Pa. “They can be more expensive than we are. They can be less expensive …

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Marco Sánchez is on a roll

December 1, 2010

Marco Sánchez turns a thesis project into a thriving business. By Sigrid Tornquist “Of course starting the business was a risk,” says Marco Sánchez, general manager of ML Ingeniería and Azoteas Verdes in Mexico City. “It was very complicated at first and we were very close to broke, but by the end of the first …

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Tony Marsh creates a package deal

November 1, 2010

Tony Marsh bundles products to offer clients valuable versatility. By Sigrid Tornquist One of the benefits of packaging product lines is that you can offer value and continuity to clients,” says Tony Marsh, managing director and owner of L.H.Woodhouse & Co. Ltd., Nottinghamshire, U.K. “We’re not the cheapest, but at the end of the day …

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Carole Bellon creates results for her clients and company

October 1, 2010

Carole Bellon’s straightforward and tough-minded approach to business results in a win-win situation. By Sigrid Tornquist When I was younger I wanted to grow up to be a doctor or a pilot—or a race car driver. I’ve always liked competition,” says Carole Bellon, owner and president of Bellon Industries, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. “Then I went …

Mark Philip commits to innovation and product diversification

September 1, 2010

Mark Philip taps into his passion for the specialty fabrics industry to update and diversify product lines. By Sigrid Tornquist “The world will always need tradesmen,” says Mark Philip, director of John Herber Ltd., dba The Canvas Technology Centre, Kaiapoi, New Zealand. Although Philip is now in charge of the company that manufactures a diverse …

Michael Ciferri Jr. gets tough to enhance profits

August 1, 2010

Michael Ciferri Jr. of Donovan Enterprises boosts truck cover and tarp sales despite the sluggish economy By Sigrid Tornquist “Don’t make excuses—in my family [as I was growing up] it wasn’t allowed,” says Michael Ciferri Jr., vice president of Donovan Enterprises in Stuart, Fla. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 minutes late to work because …

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Ken Jacobs gets his company noticed

July 1, 2010

Ken Jacobs combines custom innovation and targeted advertising strategies to generate sales. By Sigrid Tornquist “That’s always the challenge—keeping the phones ringing and customers coming in the door,” says Ken Jacobs, owner of Raymond Brothers Ltd. in London, Ontario, Canada. “We get repeat business but it’s not weekly or yearly—it’s years down the road.” Like …

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Jeff Viehmeyer takes a custom approach to business

June 1, 2010

Jeff Viehmeyer balances quality, cost and time in a customized approach to customer satisfaction. By Sigrid Tornquist “Excessive perfectionism can strangle success. Every project has a correct balance between quality, cost and time—and you have to find the balance between them,” says Jeff Viehmeyer, owner of Alameda Canvas & Coverings in Alameda, Calif. “And if …

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Scott Campbell makes room for unexpected opportunities

May 1, 2010

Scott Campbell’s acquisitions span market segments and expand profits. By Sigrid Tornquist “It was not my plan to diversify and grow this company—my plan was to work in this company for about five years and then return to the seafood industry. But that didn’t happen,” says Scott Campbell, owner and president of Rainier Industries, Tukwila, …

Branis seeks no-limits approach to problem-solving

April 1, 2010

Marcel Branis takes a collective approach to developing products and improving processes. By Sigrid Tornquist “I love developing a new product or improving a product we already have,” says Marcel Branis, vice president, manufacturing for DHS Systems in Orangeburg, N.Y. “What will happen if we challenge ourselves to do better and to have different points …

Fawcett values employee relations

March 1, 2010

Craig Fawcett builds up a business by building up the staff. By Sigrid Tornquist “Skills can be taught, but you either have character or you don’t. When you find an employee with character and work ethic, those people are your golden people—people you’ll do anything to build up,” says Craig Fawcett, president of Lethbridge Custom …

Kelly blends art and architecture to produce fabric sculptures

February 1, 2010

Maureen Kelly draws on her tenacity and talent to create one-of-a-kind fabric sculptures. By Sigrid Tornquist “I never thought I couldn’t work in a space 200 feet tall,” says Maureen Kelly, owner of The Design Loft (TDL) in St. Louis, Mo. “I always thought there would be a way to construct these pieces—I didn’t always …

Belli relies on relationships

January 1, 2010

Joe Belli drives business by making the most of relationships. By Sigrid Tornquist “Relationship selling is absolutely where it’s at,” says Joe Belli, design and estimating department manager and part owner of Eide Industries Inc. in Cerritos, Calif. “Sometimes people think it’s the lowest price or the best design that’s going to get the job; …

Welander solves design problems for fabric structures

December 1, 2009

Mark Welander uses his penchant for simplicity and accuracy to solve fabrication dilemmas. By Sigrid Tornquist “When you’re trying to get information, try to find the bull’s-eye,” says Mark Welander, MFC, owner of Fabricon in Missoula, Mont. “You need to have accuracy and good information when going into a project—without it, you’re going to have …

McKernan strives for integrity, quality and excellence

November 1, 2009

Pete McKernan makes a commitment to action for the specialty fabrics industry. By Sigrid Tornquist “Be trustworthy. Be proactive. Do right. Respect others. Conduct yourself in such a way that when those you do business with think of integrity, quality and excellence—they think of you,” says Pete McKernan, IFM, newly elected chair of the Industrial …

Atkins focuses on fabrication

October 7, 2009

Chris Atkins minimizes his company’s scope to maximize quality. By Sigrid Tornquist “I thought, if we specialize in an area that we can control and do well—surely my life is going to be a lot easier,” says Chris Atkins, president of Atkins Fabrication in Carrum Downs, Victoria, Australia. “And it has worked out that way.” …

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Bradford brings virtual vision to life

September 1, 2009

Katie Bradford uses computer imaging to master hard-to-design projects. By Sigrid Tornquist “We can take a photograph of a boat, create a computer model of it and add to it the virtual structure that we intend to build,” says Katie Bradford, MFC, IFM, owner of Custom Marine Canvas in Noank, Conn. “That way the customer …

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Gallagher visualizes success in the tent rental industry

August 1, 2009

Jim Gallagher communicates excellence—professionally. By Sigrid Tornquist “Sure, I could go out and do everything myself. I could create my own website, put a couple of Polaroids on there and say ‘look at me.’ But how am I going to grow my business that way?” says Jim Gallagher, president of Partytime Productions Inc. in Addison, …

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Calderon keeps awning business going through tough times

July 1, 2009

Motivated for success, Paula Calderon sets protocols for an awning business in St. Lucia. By Sigrid Tornquist “The management system of ISO [International Organization for Standardization] is sound, efficient and effective. It enhances productivity and customer service, and consequently the bottom line of the company,” says Paula Calderon, managing director of Caribbean Awning Production Co. …

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Le Bel forms connections to fuel innovation

June 1, 2009

Claude Le Bel’s experiences and interests have led him to success. By Sigrid Tornquist “For me, everything is possible. You just have to find the right person for the job,” says Claude Le Bel, president and founder of Sollertia Inc. in Montréal, Quebec, Canada. Appropriately named Sollertia—which is Latin for ingenuity—the company serves as a …