Meet the members of IFAI and hear about the benefits of membership in their own words. Members come from all over the world and from every market segment, and each brings a unique view on the industry.
Daring to Succeed: Matthew Dickerson, Tenshon
Matthew Dickerson took a chance on shade sails and succeeded—by welcoming failure and hard work while chasing goals.
"I’ve learned to accept that you are going to fail—sometimes marvelously—but you have to keep pushing forward."
Small & Strong: Carolyn Hajek, Pride City Awning & Canvas
Pride City Awning & Canvas founder Carolyn Hajek has built her business on trust and loyalty.
"I took on just about any business that came through the door—anything I could make with a sewing machine."
Innovating for the end user: John Delaloye, Diamond Brand Gear
John Delaloye combines Diamond Brand Gear’s history and reputation with a strategy that focuses on doing what lower-priced competitors can’t.
"To some extent, we don’t view ourselves as a traditional outdoors company. Our end users are out for longer stays, they want more durable products, and they’re thinking about different things relative to performance. But our philosophy is that we want everyone to have access to camping, so we want products that aren’t intimidating to anyone. "
Science and art: Barry Adams, Peachtree Awnings
Barry Adams finds his passion in the science and art of leading two growing awning companies.
"We try to be solution sellers. When we go into a sales situation, we look at the problem the customer is trying to solve. If you solve their problem, then you will most definitely have a satisfied customer. "
Strategy for Growth: Jan Kellogg, CCP Manufacturing
Jan Kellogg looks at the big picture for each job that CCP Manufacturing takes on, leading the company into new markets.
"My way of growing the company was that when someone came to us asking for a product, I would evaluate that product, as in, “Does this have scalability? Is this used in a wide range of the marketplace? Is it something we should try to expand upon beyond this one customer?”"
On location: Kevin Greenwood, Stage Tops USA
Stage Tops USA owner/CEO Kevin Greenwood takes his show on the road, manufacturing and installing massive fabric projects for the world’s biggest live events.
"Modern technology is great, but it’s also a hindrance. Too many people rely on a computer. I still draw with my scale ruler. "
The happiness equation: Patrick Howe, Wholesale Shade
For Patrick Howe and Wholesale Shade, high-quality custom shade sails are the product of a happy and efficient workplace.
"The highest level of employee happiness comes from knowing that the job you do is important, that your opinion counts and you are included in the decision-making of the company. "
Restoration specialist: Bob Grambsch, Canvas Replacements/ Camper & Recreation Inc.
Bob Grambsch leads Canvas Replacements in rejuvenating The Trailer camping market with new, high-quality tent tops.
"Back in ’91 or ’92 I would wonder how long this would last—when would we run out of campers to cut and recanvas? It hasn’t happened yet. "
Open to change: David Callahan, Granite State Cover & Canvas Inc.
After jumping from the food industry to truck tarps, David Callahan targets customers who value quality and innovation over price.
"There are friendly competitors and there are not-so-friendly competitors. I talk openly and honestly with a lot of my competitors about the issues we are having."
Investing in Excellence: Kathryn Maisto, Fairwinds Canvas LLC
Kathryn Maisto mastered her marine canvas skills over a lifetime and across oceans, and now she’s training a new generation.
"I want an employee to be able to go out on a boat and pattern, I want them to be able to fabricate, and I want them to be able to install. That is what makes my business run so smoothly."
A culture that clicks: Kent Lammers, Polo Custom Products
Polo Custom Products excels at partnerships, offering clients a full range of supply chain services.
"Manufacturing 4.0 and IoT are not fads, and they are going forward and here to stay. "
Always innovating: Kathy Schaefer, Glawe Awnings and Tents
New IFAI board chair Kathy Schaefer shares her vision for an organization that helps its members navigate a changing industry landscape.
"When you see something that replaces what you are having a heck of a time doing, you’ve got to snap it up. It’s all about production levels and efficiency."
The Long View: Tom Auer, Bearse USA
Tom Auer strives to put bearse usa—and the U.S. sewing industry—on a firm foundation.
"One thing I try my best to do is to make sure my employees have all the right resources to do their jobs well. I don’t want them to feel like they can’t do their jobs because they are waiting for a decision from me or haven’t been provided the right tools."
Challenge accepted: Pete Mogavero, Anchor Industries Inc.
Pete Mogavero leads the team at Anchor Industries to meet today’s market demands for quality, craftsmanship, speed and customization.
"We’ve been on a lean journey for 10 years. Our customers are in an environment where they can’t say no. They’ve got to give their clients a ‘yes’ response, so we have to do the same. Our challenge is to do it faster. We have a strong bias for speed. And we’re not scared of challenges. In fact, I would be scared by the lack of challenges. "
Staying the course: Carl Pellegrini, SeaCanvas
By building his business slowly, Carl Pellegrini keeps SeaCanvas focused on quality, creativity and customer service.
"I will never feel like I should grow SeaCanvas quickly just to grow my business in my area even though the opportunity might be there to have a larger shop. I like to take it in moderation."
A bright future: Colin Touhey, Pvilion
Pvilion’s Colin Touhey is working to forge strategic partnerships to integrate photovoltaic technology into all kinds of fabric products.
"Every person in the world has a phone that needs to be charged. And every person in the world has access to fabric. They might be in a tent, they might have an awning, they are definitely wearing clothes. The access to phones has driven the requirement for mobile power."
On a Mission: Michele Quadri-Butterfield, Al’s Awning Shop Inc.
Michele Quadri-Butterfield was raised in the business founded by her grandparents. Today, she’s the “mother force” of Al’s Awning Shop.
"Every day, I say, ‘What fabric solution are you providing today? What exceptional product are you going to put out today? How are you providing customer service today?’"
Personal Trainer: Kimber Buglass, Chairman Motor Trimmers and Upholsterers Ltd.
With a growing business and a dearth of skilled labor, Kimber Buglass trains his own employees, fostering project ownership and pride in the job.
"I find our system works really well: ‘It’s your job; you see it through. If you want help, you get the other team members in the factory to come and give you a hand." So that’s our point of difference. I think that’s where we turn the work over quicker."
Crafting Shade: Emilio Petrongolo and Jocelyne Jabre, Auvents Ombrasole Awnings
OmbraSole designs, manufactures and installs awnings of all types for North American climates - many of which feature Emilio Petrongolo’s custom and patented motors.
"My greatest accomplishment will always be the satisfaction of our customers, who greatly appreciate our products for their modern look and ease of use."
You're covered: Shane Cossette, TRS Industries
Shane Cossette and his staff respond to customers with the right fabrics, the right installation and the right people, improving existing products and inventing new ones.
"I take things on as they come up because it’s hard to explain a situation that’s not there—especially with as much diversity as we have. We just break the project down to see where it could fail, or where it is failing, and find a way to improve it."