If you weren’t at the MFA Southwest Regional Workshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, you really missed out. MFA marine shops: Sharps Tarps and Sewlong Custom Covers hosted the one-and-half day event that took place on September 23-24, 2016. There were 40 in attendance.
The event started out with a meet and greet at Legend’s Sports Bar on Thursday evening. The next day attendees headed to Sharps Tarps. They began the day with a seminar on profit and loss led by accountant Steven Malone. Malone noted that a basic understanding was necessary to help fabricators pay themselves the profit that they deserve. Attendees then went on to a tour of Sharps Tarps, where they had the opportunity to see the shop layout and to learn about the variety of products they make. Afterwards they met with suppliers, enjoyed networking and refreshments and ended the day with tips from local sewing machine expert Ben Jenson of Daines Sewing.
Attendees spent the next day at Sewlong Customs Covers and learned about their “rock star team with a little bit of weirdness,” as Clint Halladay of Sewlong Custom Covers terms it. Things like wearing Hawaiian shirts on Fridays and the fork lift contests help to add to their culture of fun. During the presentation, Halladay commented that it takes “working like a predator, not like prey.” He had many other tips and good reads that he and Custom Cover staff have read and/or listened to on audio. After reviewing these, the team meets to discuss them. This has helped with personal development, comradery, plus excellent results.
Attendees also learned about standards from local MFA member, Mark Peterson, MFC, of Sugar House Awning. Peterson provided guidelines on how to develop standards on thread type, seam allowance, zippers and more to achieve consistent results. A gold sheet was recommended as a way to help them analyze mistakes. Coming up with the standards “takes buy-in from the full team and several drafts before the actual standards are put into place,” according to Mark, “if it is not an easy process than you are probably doing something right.”
InDats inventor Justin jones demonstrated how to keep electronic records of customers’ orders and preferences, time, materials cost and also assigning tasks to your team all in one system. There was also a session on paper versus Canvex patterns, where attendees learned benefits of each.
An upholstery patterning method utilizing scrap and wholesale vinyl to make a seat cushion pattern also intrigued fabricators. The tip, from expert Dale Hancock, Hancock Upholstery, don’t use the skins to make the pattern.
As always, attendees benefit from meeting with other fabricators and vendors and learning from others in the industry.
MFA extends a big thank you to all the suppliers who came to support the event and donated giveaways for the fabricators. A special thank you to sponsors Sunbrella, Riviera and Strataglass.
Join MFA at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Workshop, Baltimore on November 5 and the Canada Regional in Toronto on Nov. 18.