Pairing fabric and film

Not many in the specialty fabrics industry can also add the moniker “film maker” after their name. But it was film making first for Michael Stein, and it is still very much a part of his life. Stein, who is CEO and owner of Abadak Inc., Palmdale, Calif., first wanted to be an actor, but he hung around his dad’s business enough to also learn something about tools and tarps—and selling.

 “His strong suit is my strong suit,” Stein says. “I like people”—which also suited his career as a nightclub promoter. “Running for president without a good education, that’s a nightclub promoter,” Stein says. “You’re shaking hands, meeting people, telling them to come to your nightclub,” he says. But he couldn’t fulfill his dream doing that, so he took a job as a film production assistant —good experience, but not much money, and that led him back to sales. 

Tarps take off

“I really wanted to do something on the Internet, something that’s simple.” He readily admits that he “didn’t know much about textiles,” but his dad had tarps that were a simple product, so he set out to sell just that. “In the beginning it was difficult because you have to do everything yourself,” he says. But that’s his style. “I’m a self-taught person. I’m very big on books and seminars, if I want to learn something, and I can’t learn enough of it on the Internet.”

Today Abadak Inc. sells tarps, canopies and fabric covers via www.tarpsplus.com, www.acecanopy.com and www.everythingcovers.com, offering “pretty much every type of tarp from all over.” They also make custom canopies and have teamed up with another company to take custom tarp orders. With 34 employees and a new warehouse in Taylor, Texas, the business is about as big as he wants it to be, and still allows him to pursue film making. 

Interests converge

Stein now lives with his wife and two children in Texas, but he returns to California often to keep tabs on his office there, visit friends and keep up with his film interests, as well. His current project is a film about a homeless person called “The Guitar Player.” In his pitch to get funding for it, he’s offering a tangible partnership to promote the film and help the homeless, too. 

“We’ve been donating tarps for years to homeless shelters,” he says. “We’d do the tarp donation and tie it in and mention the film wherever it’s being shown,” he says. “At least 1,000 tarps to homeless shelters in 50 cities around the country, and we get news coverage. We [already] got news coverage in New York City and Los Angeles, the hardest markets to get into.” 

But there is potential for a much larger effort. “If they have a product that is related to homeless needs, I’d just love other companies to collaborate with us,” he says. “We need to take care of each other in our country.”

When his company became a member of IFAI about six months ago, he was interested in expanding his relationships in the industry. The connections might also support his efforts on behalf of the homeless, and maybe even help him get his film produced. “IFAI covers a lot of industries,” he says. “It would be good to network. I’m surprised it took me so long.”

By Janet Preus, editor, Specialty Fabrics Review