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.


Riding the wind: Liz Diaz, North Beach Marine Canvas

January 2018

Liz Diaz designs inspired boat interiors—and is applying that expertise to bring shelter to the homeless.

"I don’t just make boat cushions—I transform the space. I like to think of myself as a life stylist."

Read the full profile

Trailblazer: Bill Coppins, W.A. Coppins Ltd.

December 2017

Bill Coppins guides a canvas shop from its roots in production to a design and development powerhouse.

"We’re only a small town of 7,500 people, which makes it a bit harder because you’re limited with what you can turn over."

Read the full profile

To the point: Steve Ellington, Trivantage LLC

November 2017

New IFAI board chair Steve Ellington shares his vision for a strong and relevant industry.

"IFAI’s board is always made up of a balance of suppliers, manufacturers, small companies, large companies and different market segments. Having that kind of diversity on the board is critical because our member companies are diverse."

Read the full profile

From good to great: Lloyd Verduyn, Verduyn Tarps

October 2017

Lloyd Verduyn embraces the challenge of continuous improvement to create and refine products that become the gold standard of the tarping industry.

"Before I first made a tarping system, I took the time to talk to drivers. They’re the ones who use the systems."

- Lloyd Verduyn, President and Owner of Verduyn Tarp from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Read the full profile

From foundation to future: Elissa Decker, Moss Inc.

September 2017

Elissa Decker uses her expertise in fabric manufacturing to help Moss Inc., a leader in tension fabric branding, drive global growth and lead performance trends.

"Sometimes projects seem so daunting and overwhelming and it’s hard to envision the finish line. It’s important to have a process you can follow so I create a project plan with action items for everything I can think of that needs to happen. Usually it’s a pretty long list."

- Elissa Decker, Senior manager of materials of Moss Inc. from Chicago, Ill.
Read the full profile

Winds of change: Chad Miller, American National Mfg. Inc.

August 2017

Chad Miller and his family adjust to changing market demands through creativity, asking the right questions, understanding regulations—and doing the math.

"So it’s not just important to know what your customer knows. It’s as important, if not more, to know what they don’t know because they could be leading you to a path of liability. "

Read the full profile

If people, then profit: Mike Peterson, SugarHouse Awning Industries

July 2017

Mike Peterson restructures an awning company’s culture by asking hard questions, collaborating on the answers, and fearlessly changing the rules.

"I wanted to help management understand that if they could step back from their work, ‘sharpen their axe’ and start managing, we could get more work done with a lot less stress, and also become more profitable."

Read the full profile

Guts, glory and the next generation: Kate Mitchell, NOMAR

June 2017

Kate Mitchell transitions her diverse fabrics business on the Alaskan frontier to her children—who value a courageous past and anticipate a bright future.

"‘Don’t sub out your work. If you want the profits, you want to be in control. You’re just going to have to set up and manufacture it yourself.’"

- Kate Mitchell, Owner of NOMAR from Homer, Alaska
Read the full profile

Mastering the craft: Jerry Margrave, Specialty Trim & Awning Inc.

May 2017

Jerry Margrave keeps his company on track by staying on top of industry skills, technology and opportunities to solve customer problems.

"Having my MFC has opened the door for me to explain my expertise to potential clients many times over."

Read the full profile

From the ground up: Cheryl Yennaco, Atlantic Awning

April 2017

Cheryl Yennaco rebuilds a business by making the tough decisions, hiring the right team and setting meaningful and measurable goals.

"I don’t wait to make the tough decision to let someone go if I know it’s not going to work out. I can usually tell in a week or two if they’re not going to be a good fit."

- Cheryl Yennaco, Owner and General Manager of Atlantic Awning from Melrose, Mass.
Read the full profile

Bring it on: Jacob Schwartz, International Tension Structures

March 2017

Jacob Schwartz navigates the design and construction process by leveraging group strenghts, examining all options and committing to long-term solutions for clients.

"We enjoy working on projects that have incorporated fabric as a central part of the architectural design as opposed to an afterthought that was slapped on late in the process."

Read the full profile

The buck starts here: Chris Ritsema, Canvas Innovations

February 2017

Chris Ritsema leads his company by building a strong culture that encourages growth and success for his employees.

"It’s so important to find the right people, find out if they have a love for the business and give them a future and a vision."

Read the full profile

Sustainable opportunity: Eric and Angie Riggins, Alpha Canvas

January 2017

Eric and Angie Riggins create new products and capture new markets to ensure a steady stream of work throughout the year.

"We’re able to use all the same production and scheduling practices and setup for all three different product lines, so it all fits well into the way the products flow through the shop. Keeping the entire production process in-house allows us to control the quality and turnaround time for everything. "

- Angie and Eric Riggins, Owners of Alpha Canvas from Charlotte, N.C.
Read the full profile

Analyze this: Ed Skrzynski, Marco Canvas

December 2016

Ed Skrzynski automates production, encourages teamwork and documents processes to deliver quality marine and shade products.

"Before [I implemented process improvements] each project was typically done by one skilled tradesperson from start to finish. The network was very labor-intensive and required a great amount of skill without too much thought about the business aspect."

- Ed Skrzynski , Owner of Marco Canvas from Marco Island, Fla.
Read the full profile

Scheduled evolution: Eric Heischmidt, Arizon Structures

November 2016

Eric Heischmidt approaches project management with flexibility and an architect’s eye for precision.

"As good as people are at their jobs, there is always some change that requires constant adaptation and rescheduling."

Read the full profile

Owning your destiny: Pete Weingartner, Queen City Awning

October 2016

Pete Weingartner builds a team—of staff, vendors and clients—to deliver turn-key projects and target continued growth.

"Everybody’s got to understand their part in the project, and you have to have a confidence level that the source can do what you need them to do. And then if it’s their specialty, you need to let them run with it and not micromanage."

Read the full profile

The experience payoff: Blair Belluomo, Belle Isle Awning

September 2016

Blair Belluomo brings a strong and appreciative management style to the family business after years of working in the auto industry.

"I realized that our workforce was getting older so I saw the benefit of assigning each of our senior employees an apprentice."

Read the full profile

The third dimension: John Bland, Tecsew Ltd.

August 2016

John Bland revolutionizes marine fabrication by applying 3-D CAD principles to the design process.

"There are often compromises to be made in a design. The beauty of 3-D CAD is that we can show them what compromises may need to be considered and they make the decision before the product is created."

- John Bland, Managing director of Tecsew Ltd. from Gosport, Hampshire, U.K.
Read the full profile

Fabric engineering: Ben Fox, Legacy Building Solutions

July 2016

Ben Fox expands design capabilities for fabric structures, focusing on innovation and education to solve customer problems.

"We believe that your route forward is through marketing. If you’re not marketing well, you’re not going to grow."

Read the full profile

Tents, trends & technology: Mike Holland, Chattanooga Tent Co.

June 2016

From RFID to GPS, Mike Holland uses all the newest tools to keep Chattanooga Tent Co. at the leading edge.

"We knew long ago from attending conferences and expos that coded engineering was going to become the standard. By being aware early and investing our time, energy and money into those products for our customers we were able to keep ahead of those changes."

Read the full profile