Business is...looking up

By Jim Tarbox

Business is literally taking off for Sam Moody and his Awnings Plus Inc. Although he deals primarily in awnings out of his shop in Albany, Ga., located about 200 miles south of Atlanta, Moody also makes entrance and window canopies, boat covers and one-off specialty projects. And of late, he’s built a successful relationship with a local aircraft manufacturer—Thrush Aircraft, a small-plane maker that specializes in crop dusting, border patrol and mosquito control, among other uses best performed by small planes. Moody makes cockpit covers, propeller tie-downs, boots (which wrap around the front of the wings and facilitate de-icing) and other products for Thrush.

Moody first got off the ground in 2003. After selling canvas for nine years, Moody accepted an offer from his employer to come in off the road and work in the shop constructing awnings. “They needed somebody in the shop to work on awning fabrics,” Moody says. “Eventually, I went into business on my own. I hadn’t intended to do that, but I enjoy what I do and now. I wish I’d gotten into the business earlier.”

Though Moody, 52, started out with a staff of four full- and part-time workers, after a handful of departures he now operates his business pretty much as a one-man shop, hiring subcontractors to do the “heavy lifting.” His wife, Marie, handles the books and keeps the office running smoothly.

Angling for fun and profit

Just about every weekend, Moody says, you can find him on the water, bass fishing (fortunately, his wife is an avid angler, too), and while he once had aspirations to participate in competitive fishing, he’s now in it for recreation. “I would love to have done that years ago, but now it’s more of a job than it is fun; it’s a young man’s game,” he says, but adds, “Still, I hold my own around here.”

That avocation also keeps his name in front of area boat-owners. “I do a lot of bass-boat covers,” he says.

Awnings, however, remain Moody’s bread-and-butter business, and his work has won him some coveted “downtown improvement” work in the region. “Cities seem to like me,” he says. “We do a lot for the cities around here when they get façade grants and downtown-renovation grants,” he says. “I do quite a few awnings for those projects. We hand-paint the logos and stuff; I have a little system I use to put the art on the awning. We probably do a couple of projects a month like that.”

An industry perspective

During his 20-some years in the business, Moody has seen his share of changes in both awnings and canvas usage in general. “The materials are a lot better,” he says. “There are more colors, different types of fabrics, simply more ideas.”

Moody is complimentary about his participation in IFAI: “It has made the industry stronger as a whole by giving us the tools we need to be our best,” he says. “Through the trade shows, workshops and especially networking, we are able to learn from some of our suppliers and competitors things that will help make our companies and the fabric business stronger.”

Jim Tarbox is editor of Marine Fabricator magazine and is a regular contributor to the Review.