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Shop talk with Paul’s Custom Canvas

September 1st, 2013 / By: / In the Shop, Industry News

How did your shop get started?

We started as a one-man operation out of Paul Charpentier’s basement. After one year, Paul was able to move into a smaller building. We moved into our current building in 1999.

What is your product focus?

Our main focus is marine canvas and upholstery.

What unique design elements are built into your products?

We are a “custom production” shop. Our season is only about four months long, and our average boat is 19 feet long. We need to get as many done as possible in a short amount of time. Our work flow is very streamlined so we are able to give our customers what they want in the shortest time possible.

Who are your main customers?

We are about 70 percent individuals and 30 percent dealers.

What is your work-flow process?

All of our customers bring their boats to us. We have four employees who set up, pattern and instal—one dedicated cutter and three sewers. Most projects take about a week to complete.

Describe your shop.

Tables, sewing machines, storage. We have six single-needle machines, two double-needle machines, and three cutting tables. We also have a dedicated sewing room and upholstery space—about 9,000 square feet of work shop/storage area.

How do you deal with scheduling and handling customers?

We have two administrators who schedule in the boats for us. We typically schedule four or five boats a day in the summer. We try to have one person go out with the customer to find out what they want to have done to the boat, pick colors and set a time for the project to be completed.

What other products, other than marine products, do you produce?

We have branched into the sail shade market. We also make a lot of equipment and miscellaneous covers.

Do you create a product that you consider your specialty?

Our specialty is our tie-down travel/storage cover. This cover is made for handling the weight of snow and is custom fit to be tight enough to handle highway speeds.

What do you do to stay busy in the off-season?

We try to schedule full boat upholstery in the off-season. These projects typically take about a month to complete, and the season is too short to keep a customer’s boat for that period of time. We also do a lot to clean the shop—in the summer we pile lots of “stuff” around the building.
We try to do prep work for the next season, such as precutting reinforcement patches for our storage covers.

What is your employee-training process?

We train our employees from the ground up. They start with prepping and cleaning the boats and then move to patterning and installing. We try to hire experienced sewers so we only have to teach them how to put together our covers.

Do you use any new or unusual technology?

We are not heavy into technology; we try to introduce new products into the Denver market and make all of the other shops try to catch up with us.

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