Industry News

New powerboat sales continue strong growth in 2018

January 17, 2019

Retail unit sales of new powerboats (includes traditional powerboats and personal watercraft) were up an estimated 4 percent in 2018 to approximately 280,000 units, the highest total since 2007, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). The outlook for 2019 remains positive with continued growth expected to bring a 3-4 percent increase in new …

Industry News

Business insurance offered as new benefit to MFA members

January 15, 2019

IFAI now offers business insurance to members of the Marine Fabricators Association (MFA). The broker for this new membership benefit is Marsh & McLennan Agency, who is also IFAI’s insurance broker. “This is the first time IFAI has been able to offer this type of benefit to members. We have had many requests from members …

Industry News

2019 MFA Conference makes waves

January 15, 2019

The 2019 Marine Fabricators Conference onboard the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., Jan. 10-12, was a huge hit with the second-largest crowd in conference history. With nearly a hundred first-time attendees and a large Australian contingent, conference-goers had a chance to explore the majestic Queen Mary while networking with other fabricators, attending a …

Industry News

President enacts Modern Fish Act

January 10, 2019

On December 31, President Trump signed the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018 (Modern Fish Act) into law, a bipartisan effort in the 115th Congress to improve federal fisheries management for America’s 11 million saltwater anglers. National Marine Manufacturers Association President, Thom Dammrich, said, “This is historic for the recreational boating and fishing community, …

Industry News

Cutoff switches now required on some boats

January 8, 2019

In December, the U.S. Congress passed the Frank Lobiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, which includes a provision requiring boat and engine manufacturers, distributors and dealers to install engine cutoff switches on new boats “less than 26 feet overall in length and capable of developing 115 pounds or more of static thrust.” The requirement …

Industry News

Boat shows highlight marine job opportunities

January 4, 2019

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) will include a new job fair component for consumers seeking employment in the recreational marine industry. Boating Career Day will be held at NMMA’s 2019 Progressive Insurance Atlanta, New York and New England boating shows where job seekers are invited to browse participating exhibitor booths that have job openings. …

News

Window maintenance tips

January 3, 2019

Many marine window products come with detailed directions for cleaning and maintenance, some with the provision that a warranty can be voided if something other than recommended products are used. For example, Herculite®, maker of Strataglass, requires products made by IMAR™. “Boat owners should never use Windex®, Rain-X®, Pledge®, Plexus®, Simple Green®, OrPine or any …

Products

New products

January 1, 2019

Waterproof shade on land and sea Recognized in the marine market for its weather resistance and durability, Sunbrella® SeaMark® is now available in a wider selection of colors and has expanded from marine applications into the commercial shade market. Fabricated from durable Sunbrella performance fabric and 100 percent impervious waterproof backing, SeaMark is available in …

New Members

New members join MFA

January 1, 2019

The Marine Fabricators Association (MFA) provides resources and programs for marine fabricators and establishes standards of excellence for business practices, products and craftsmanship. The MFA is a division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI). Join the only trade association today that represents the entire specialty fabrics and advanced textiles industry in the world. To …

Advice

Tips for new employees

January 1, 2019

One of the trickiest things facing the sewing industry is finding qualified workers. Many new employees may be unfamiliar with the basics of sewing machine operation, says Faith Roberts, owner of Banner Canvas in Ham Lake, Minn. During a presentation at IFAI Expo this past October, Roberts pointed out that many young people neither grow …

Expo News

Small shops: Tips for shortening your lead times

October 17, 2018

Torey Heinz, of Teagles Consulting, has a background in small manufacturing jobs shops. This gives him a good sense of how poor workflow and other issues can affect a small shop’s lead times. Shortening lead time is important, Teagle told participants at his Oct. 17 Expo session, because shorter lead times mean increased sales and …

Expo News

The right technology can save you money

October 17, 2018

Trying to figure out which technology can save a business money can be confusing given all the options available. In his Oct. 17 Expo session, “Using Technology to Improve the Bottom Line,” Mark Stiver, manager of ecommerce, strategy and analytics for Trivantage, gave a high-level view of the primary types of technology available to specialty …

Expo News

IFAI Expo 2018: Show Stopper winners on the floor

October 17, 2018

All the best from Texas: Wednesday morning, Oct. 17, at IFAI Expo led off with lists of winners for the year, including the most popular products on the show floor. The seventh annual Show Stopper competition was designed to showcase the best of the best in the industry, from fabrics, equipment and chemicals to services …

Expo News

2018 International Achievement Award Winners Announced

October 17, 2018

The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) has awarded this year’s International Achievement Awards (IAA) for design excellence in specialty fabrics applications, announced at the awards breakfast on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at IFAI Expo 2018. IFAI Expo is the largest specialty fabrics trade show in North America, held this year at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention …

Expo News

Sharpen your competitive edge

October 17, 2018

Asking yourself one simple question can help make your business a magnet for new customers, says marketing professional Madeleine MacRae, owner of MM MacRae Coaching & Consulting. “That question is ‘Who is your ideal client?’” In her Oct. 16 Expo session on distinguishing yourself in the marketplace, MacRae says answering this question is the key …

Expo News

Digital presence is key to acquiring new customers in 2019

October 16, 2018

It’s no surprise the digital world means a company’s ability to attract and keep customers requires a dramatic shift in strategy, tools and resources. Ed Keough, vice president of sales for FutureGuard Building Products Inc. in Auburn, Maine, told business owners they need to embrace digital advertising or be “left in the dust” during his …

Expo News

IFAI Expo keynote speaker Mark Scharenbroich: “acknowledge, honor and connect” with employees and customers

October 16, 2018

Keynote speaker Mark Scharenbroich has straightforward advice for growing a business: Make a true connection with employees and customers and positive results will follow. Scharenbroich shared his humor and motivational wisdom with a packed room at IFAI’s 2018 Expo annual meeting October 16. Rain, wind and cold outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in …

Expo News

Textile testing for comfort

October 16, 2018

IFAI’s Pre-Expo Conference Oct. 15 in Dallas offered a range of presentations—many of them focused on topics of particular interest in the advanced textiles area. Textile testing is one topic that will be addressed in more than one session. At the beginning of his talk yesterday on testing and evaluating fabrics’ human comfort, performance and …

Expo News

Useful social media for companies of all sizes

October 15, 2018

Should you bother with social media? Most definitely yes, says Luke Gusman, marketing manager for Sta-Lok Inc., a longtime manufacturer of marine and architectural rigging hardware. Gusman says that no matter how large or small your company, there are five social media platforms that can increase engagement with your product or service and raise your …

Expo News

Successful multigenerational workplaces

October 15, 2018

This is the first time in history that five distinct generations are working in a single workplace, says J. Karl Sherrill Jr., a certified risk manager with Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC, in his 2018 Expo session “Leading Successful Teams in a Multigenerational Workplace.” “It’s a trend affecting every business,” says Sherrill. “You have people …

Feature

2019 MFA Time Standards Manual

January 1, 2019

The Time Standards Manual was developed in 1996 by the Marine Fabricators Association (MFA), a division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International, to serve as a benchmark shop owners can use to set fabrication times, with which they can generate competitive labor costs. The manual is an ongoing project that will grow and change organically …

Feature

Dynamic window materials

January 1, 2019

Fabricators and boat owners have a world of choices in windows. When it comes to choosing their windows, most boat owners don’t want to make it too complicated—they want a quality product that will last at a reasonable price. As fabricators know, however, it’s not quite that simple. In fact, according to Zach Grant, marketing …

Feature

How to rebuild a business

January 1, 2019

Rob Kotowski rebuilds the family business with his father’s guidance and a commitment to quality and communication. We don’t anticipate that the completion of a project is the last time we talk with our clients,” says Rob Kotowski, owner and president of Lake Shore Boat Top Co. Inc., Saint Clair Shores, Mich. “We typically follow …

Feature Members only content

The boat design process is a lengthy one

September 7, 2018

According to Sam Shimanek, a designer at Marquis-Larson Boat Group in Pulaski, Wis., there are some years the company doesn’t undergo model year changes. When it does, the process usually starts about six months in advance. “The first few months are getting design ideas drawn up,” Shimanek says. “Next we start to pick out new …

Feature

Fabricators can nudge boat owners toward a newer look

September 5, 2018

Boat owners may upgrade because of innovations they’re seeing on new boats just hitting the water. But sometimes boat components wear out and need to be replaced. That’s where fabricators can play a role in steering their customers to an updated look for their vessels. “The biggest challenge in renovating interiors is getting the customer …

Feature Members only content

Boat upgrades on the horizon

September 1, 2018

Driven by comfort, durability and a splash of color Henry Ford is famous for promising back in 1909 to make the Model T in any color, “as long as it’s black.” The same could be said (more or less) of white in the boating world, as least for most of recent history. But today, in …

Feature Members only content

Design trends 2019

September 1, 2018

OEMs and fabricators—partners in progress As the marine vessel market becomes ever more competitive, the winners in the industry will be fabricators who stay on top of current and future design trends—offering innovative design solutions that go beyond service to deliver an exceptional product for both the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with whom they partner …

Feature Members only content

Balancing the benefits and drawbacks of automation

September 1, 2018

It’s always important to measure the return on investment (ROI) of any purchase—especially in the areas of equipment. The challenge is to balance the capabilities (and availability) of equipment and employees as automation and technology drive the future of the industry. Canvas Innovations in Holland, Mich., focuses on custom marine canvas and upholstery products, says …

Feature

High-tech tools for high-tech marine covers

July 5, 2018

Tim James, co-owner of digiShapes™ LLC in Kent, Wash., is a software developer with an interest in marine canvas. His company takes 3-D measurements of entire boats, which are then converted into automatic boat covers. Its SwiftShield™ system consists of a hydraulic mechanism and a tight-fitting fabric cover that is lifted up and over the …

Feature Members only content

Recommended fabric cleaning products

July 1, 2018

Fabricators play an important role in teaching customers to keep their boats in shape. It’s pretty simple. People buy boats because they want to have fun. The reality, however, is that work—the opposite of fun—is required to keep any watercraft in tip-top condition. Therein lies the rub. “A lot of boaters don’t want to do …

Industry News

New powerboat sales continue strong growth in 2018

January 17, 2019

Retail unit sales of new powerboats (includes traditional powerboats and personal watercraft) were up an estimated 4 percent in 2018 to approximately 280,000 units, the highest total since 2007, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). The outlook for 2019 remains positive with continued growth expected to bring a 3-4 percent increase in new …

Industry News

Business insurance offered as new benefit to MFA members

January 15, 2019

IFAI now offers business insurance to members of the Marine Fabricators Association (MFA). The broker for this new membership benefit is Marsh & McLennan Agency, who is also IFAI’s insurance broker. “This is the first time IFAI has been able to offer this type of benefit to members. We have had many requests from members …

Industry News

2019 MFA Conference makes waves

January 15, 2019

The 2019 Marine Fabricators Conference onboard the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., Jan. 10-12, was a huge hit with the second-largest crowd in conference history. With nearly a hundred first-time attendees and a large Australian contingent, conference-goers had a chance to explore the majestic Queen Mary while networking with other fabricators, attending a …

Industry News

President enacts Modern Fish Act

January 10, 2019

On December 31, President Trump signed the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018 (Modern Fish Act) into law, a bipartisan effort in the 115th Congress to improve federal fisheries management for America’s 11 million saltwater anglers. National Marine Manufacturers Association President, Thom Dammrich, said, “This is historic for the recreational boating and fishing community, …

Industry News

Cutoff switches now required on some boats

January 8, 2019

In December, the U.S. Congress passed the Frank Lobiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, which includes a provision requiring boat and engine manufacturers, distributors and dealers to install engine cutoff switches on new boats “less than 26 feet overall in length and capable of developing 115 pounds or more of static thrust.” The requirement …

Industry News

Boat shows highlight marine job opportunities

January 4, 2019

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) will include a new job fair component for consumers seeking employment in the recreational marine industry. Boating Career Day will be held at NMMA’s 2019 Progressive Insurance Atlanta, New York and New England boating shows where job seekers are invited to browse participating exhibitor booths that have job openings. …

Industry News

Mercury Marine wins sustainability prize

December 20, 2018

Fond du lac, Wis-based Mercury Marine, has earned a “Green Masters” designation from the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council for the eighth consecutive year. The Green Masters Program measures companies on a broad range of sustainability issues, from energy and water conservation to waste management, community outreach and education. Mercury Marine’s sustainability efforts include fuel-efficient products, …

Industry News

Industry leaders upbeat about marine business

December 18, 2018

For the third quarter of 2018, marine manufacturer CEOs and top-level executives remain overwhelmingly upbeat in their assessment of current business conditions as they navigate headwinds, primarily from tariffs, rising raw materials costs, and the labor shortage. The report comes from the National Marine Manufacturers Association Marine CEO Sentiment Survey. For Q3, 65 percent of …

Industry News

Call for Entries for 2019 Minneapolis Innovation Awards

December 13, 2018

The Progressive Insurance Minneapolis Boat Show’s Innovation Awards program is now open for submissions. Eligible exhibitors can enter new products into three product categories: aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass fishing boats and pontoon boats. Entrants to the 2019 program will have a chance to win and also boost their product’s visibility through inclusion in the Show …

Industry News

Free boating safety brochures available

December 11, 2018

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is offering a series of free boating safety brochures on a variety of topics to help educate consumers on important boating safety guidelines. The series is available in print-ready and digital formats at no cost to the recreational marine industry. Topics in NMMA’s Boating Safety Awareness Series are: • …

Products

New products

January 1, 2019

Waterproof shade on land and sea Recognized in the marine market for its weather resistance and durability, Sunbrella® SeaMark® is now available in a wider selection of colors and has expanded from marine applications into the commercial shade market. Fabricated from durable Sunbrella performance fabric and 100 percent impervious waterproof backing, SeaMark is available in …

Products

New products

September 1, 2018

These latest products are changing the marine fabricator industry. Want to see your products here? Email: erbernick@ifai.com. Temperature resistant Designed to resist the harshest environments, Stamskin One handles extreme temperatures (-58°F to 302°F) and is insensitive to UV radiation and water. Formulated by Serge Ferrari, the elastomer gives it an ultra-soft touch and “peach skin” …

Products

Tips for keeping marine fabrics clean and protected

July 3, 2018

Care and maintenance of clear vinyl products, especially those like Strataglass® that are coated to be scratch-resistant, requires cleaning methods using specific cleaning and protection products, according to Craig R. Zola, vice president for marketing and distribution at Herculite® Products Inc., parent company of Strataglass, based in Emigsville, Pa. In the harsh marine environment, it’s …

Fabric & Film

Lightweight durability

July 1, 2018

For marine applications, gazebo covers, patio furniture covers, tarps, canopies and campers, Top Notch 1S is a 100 percent solution-dyed polyester fabric with a clear urethane back coat. At 60 inches wide, 7.4 oz. per sq. yd., it offers exceptional strength, durability, water resistance, tear resistance, abrasion resistance and UV- and mildew-resistance. Because it is …

Equipment

Seam sealer

July 1, 2018

Most fabrics are only as waterproof as their seams. For boat covers, awnings, rucksacks and other outdoor gear, Iosso’s Seam Sealer keeps moisture where it belongs—on the outside. It forms an effective, invisible seal against water intrusion without altering the color or feel of the material. It prevents leaks on cotton, cotton blend, polyester and …

Hardware & Findings

Quick-release fasteners

July 1, 2018

Loxx® Fasteners are durable self-locking quick-release fasteners precision engineered from brass and stainless steel. Versatile and reliable in the harshest environments, these fasteners are appropriate for marine, architectural, cover and tarp, and industrial fastening applications. They are easy to install by simply punching a hole and screwing on the mating washer. There is no need …

Fabric & Film

Tear-resistant vinyl

July 1, 2018

AquaFloat 32 is a premium coated fabric (32 oz. vinyl) formulated for inflatable boat and raft applications, with excellent tear and tensile strength to resist punctures and hold air. With treatments for UV protection and mildew resistance, in a semi-gloss finish, it is available in a wide variety of fade-resistant colors popular in the recreation …

Fabric & Film

Classic leather looks

July 1, 2018

Made exclusively in the U.S., Naugahyde® products deliver superior performance fabric solutions for the marine, recreational and automotive markets. Naugahyde Surfside is strong and durable, easily maintained and is resistant to fading. It is ideally suited for marine and outdoor seating as well as trim/door panels, auto trim, RV/van upholstery and other applications. www.rexpeggfabrics.com

Fabric & Film

Versatile polyester

July 1, 2018

Aqualast HD is resistant to mildew and UV radiation, providing extra protection for boat covers, awnings, bimini tops, storage and furniture covers, and camping enclosures, among many other uses. The heavy-duty, 100 percent solution-dyed polyester fabric has a urethane coating, is offered 60 inches wide, and comes in 12 popular colors with a 5-year warranty …

Products

New exterior roller shades color

March 15, 2018

Phifer Inc. has added a new color to its SunTex® 95 exterior sun control line. The new hue, Stucco, joins the current range of nine neutral color options in this fabric collection designed specifically for exterior roller shade applications. Made from vinyl-coated polyester, the line is thinner and lighter weight than traditional SunTex fabrics. Blocking …

Interiors & Upholstery

Window Treatment Trends

July 1, 2017

Interest in window coverings for marine applications has experienced a rebirth of sorts and more consumers, fabricators and designers are using innovative window treatment designs. When Krisha Plauché, owner of Onboard Interiors in Marblehead, Mass., is fabricating drapery for a stateroom, she often uses blackout applications, but Plauché has found that lining drapery with a …

In the Shop Members only content

Fresh updates for older vessels

January 1, 2017

Most interior fabrication projects occur on fixer-uppers. The vessel might be vintage or it might be less than ten years old. While I always welcome the challenge of doing a better design than the original, there is a fine line between aesthetics and practicality. After all, the boat needs to be both comfortable and secure …

How-To Articles Members only content

Constructing snow flies for the Alaskan climate

January 1, 2017

Our winters in Fairbanks, Alaska, can be cold or very cold with lots of snow or little snow; it all depends. One condition we don’t see often is wind. In my 26 years of living here, I can remember only one time when the wind blew and the snow flew. Most of our snow falls …

How-To Articles

Meticulous prototyping leads to attractive cylinder cushions

September 1, 2016

Over the years I have been asked to fabricate several unusual items. I never know if that item will be a one-hit wonder or will become a customer favorite. In most cases, I create prototypes that help me creatively solve design challenges. I charge a prototype fee of a few hundred dollars to develop and …

How-To Articles

Marine fabricators meet customers’ window wish lists

August 1, 2016

When making boat windows for customers, marine fabricators often have a specific set of requirements of their materials. “Our fabricators require a sheet that is easy to handle, durable and can be cut and sewn easily without fear of damaging the product,” says Lyle Shipley, product manager at O’Sullivan Films, Winchester, Va., for O’Sea and …

How-To Articles

Complex and compound frame bending

July 1, 2016

Incorporating unconventional design into dodgers and biminis. I often suggest that my customers try to think out of the box when envisioning what their boats can look like. I tell them, “If I have done my job properly, the cover will become part of the boat.” Take a spray dodger, for example. I generally recommend …

Interiors & Upholstery

The art of project management on contour cushions

July 1, 2016

Marine fabricators are a unique group of craftspeople and business owners. Many of us are familiar with the notion that creative pursuits are right-brain activities, while math and logic are left-brain activities. As marine fabricators, we utilize the right sides of our brains for design solutions that meet customers’ aesthetic and practical expectations. At the …

Interiors & Upholstery

Restyled sleeping cabins

May 1, 2016

Interior sleeping cabins on a vessel have always been my favorite projects. I enjoy researching options and ultimately providing customers with tidy solutions that offer easy accessibility. Cabin spaces and mattresses come in all shapes and sizes. One of my clients claims to sleep 14 people on his 54-foot Bertram with only three interior cabins, …

How-To Articles

Lazy Jack – stack pack sail covers

March 1, 2016

These names are some of the descriptions for a process of suspending sail covers. I started making these Lazy Jack covers 20 years ago, as a progress/advance of the Lazy Jack rope system, designed to help flake a main sail as it is put away. The idea was to connect the rope to a sail …

Interiors & Upholstery

Elegant performance in stripes

March 1, 2016

Stripes come in every color, shape and size. A two-color stripe can even be juxtaposed to form an eye-catching pattern. Striking stripe patterns can be matched or combined with solid colors to provide dramatic effects for your next project. Stripes are more popular than ever. Sunbrella likes them so much, subtle as well as dramatic …