The biggest—and arguably the best—MFA National Convention went down in “Margaritaville,” with more people, more products and more educational opportunities.
The theme for the 2008 Marine Fabricators Association National Convention, Jan. 13-15, was “Margaritaville,” a term made popular by the Jimmy Buffet song of the same name. The Marriott Hutchinson Island Resort in Stuart, Fla., hard by the Intracoastal Waterway, created the perfect setting for a convention that was all about marine fabrication, along with a little about finding your cheeseburger in paradise.
Some attendees could’ve stayed here all season because this year’s convention shattered records for attendance by fabricators, suppliers and new members, and for exhibit hall space, where suppliers presented new products.
No one wasted away at this convention, which included educational seminars, hands-on workshops and marine and upholstery shop tours focused on new technology and new techniques. Each dynamic event shared underlying themes of creating better products to meet customer demands, saving time and cutting costs. Audience members were encouraged to ask questions and make comments, which allowed the speakers to explain the most important points of each topic and provide valuable information to fabricators.
And, as at every MFA convention, networking and the sharing of fabrication techniques, ideas and business tips were a natural part of the convention package, especially at the welcome reception, where members of the association showed off their musical talents, and at the awards banquet, where fabricators were honored for their fabrication talents. Upholsterers, fabricators, fabric manufacturers and hardware suppliers from across the United States and Canada proved that working hard allows the option to play hard, and by working together their businesses grow.
So, some people claim you have only yourself to blame for missing out on the learning opportunities, product information, networking opportunities and the fun that transpires when a passionate group of people with a common interest comes together to meet a common goal.
1. Tom Hunter, MFC, of Clearwater Canvas demonstrated hid fool-proof “perfect pocket” method to make pockets that result in tops that exactly match your pattern.
2. Pre-convention workshops included a tour of Canvas Designers in Riviera Beach, where industry experts demonstrated new technology and the latest fabrication techniques. Dan Lesch, MFC, Lesch Boat Covers LLC, and Tom Hunter, MFC, Clearwater Canvas, discussed frame design and construction from an engineer’s perspective. The duo worked on manual and power tools to bend tubes into a variety of useful shapes for marine fabrication.
3. Jeri and Jim Perillo of Custom Canvas of Charleston demonstrated patterning, designing, finishing and installing rigid enclosures using sliding windows with triple track. They also discussed the financial and time-saving benefits of using the products.
4. Mike Johnson of Mike’s Marine Custom Canvas shared methods, materials and manufacturing techniques to solve problems encountered in designing, patterning and installing enclosures on t-tops.
5a. During the popular Tool, Tips & Tricks competition, Keith Purves of Riverside Covers showed off the record number of entries submitted by convention attendees.
5b. Purves ” bin for zippers” took third place.
5c. First place went to Purves for his invention dubbed ” the swiffer”, a board wrapped in non-skid shelf liner attached via desk mount hinge to a pole that is used to locate mounting points for installing tops.
5d. Second place went to Justin Jones of Custom Covers for his “fabric roll inhibitor”, a piece of PVC tubing with a slit that slides over a fabric roll and prevents it from rolling while being cut.
9, 10. Attendees toured David’s Drapery Workroom, best known for its work on Rybovich Yacths, and watched pattern matching and quilting demonstrations.
11. Mike Erickson of Canvas Designers led a tour of his facility with demonstrations of the diverse product lines the company offers, including upholstery, enclosures and metal work. Erickson and the crew from Canvas Designers used computer aided design to build a 3-D bimini without patterning. Attendees learned how technology is being used to work smarter, faster and more accurately through both hardware and software.
12. Heidi Garrison and Pam Erickson of Canvas Designers discussed interior upholstery products and trends, and showed how to coordinate design, scale and color selection.
13. Proving that working hard and playing hard go together, attendees socialized, networked and nibbled on sponge cake during the “Margaritaville” welcome reception.
14. MFA members showed off their musical talents and entertained a crowd of attendees that included fabricators, upholsterers, fabric suppliers and marine product manufacturers from across the United States and Canada.
15. The convention concluded with a formal ceremony that featured the presentation of the marine fabrication Excellence Awards. Dan Johnson and Brian Johnson, Kathy Johnson and Mike Johnson of Mike’s Marine Custom Canvas received the Award of Distinction, selected from the Award of Excellence winners. More than 130 entries were judged by a panel of industry experts.
Next year’s convention is Jan. 11-13, 2009, at the Hyatt Riverfront in Jacksonville, Fla.
Educational DVDs available
If you were unable to attend the 2008 MFA National Convention, you can still learn from the great educational presentations.
For the first time, all seminars were recorded by a professional videographer and are available for purchase through MFA. The four videos available are Frame Design and Tube Bending Workshop, Advances in Technology Workshop, Comprehensive Upholstery and Interiors Workshop, and 2008 Full Convention Seminars.
For information, or to order any of these DVDs, contact Beth L. Hungiville, MFA Managing Director at +1 651 225 6952, 800 209 1810 or email@example.com.