Every year, a state of the industry report is published by Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI). Jeffrey Rasmussen, IFAI’s market research director, writes the report, factoring in numerous market realities. Growth in the United States specialty fabrics industry was approximately 2.3 percent in 2016 and is expected to reach 2.6 percent in 2017. For marine fabricators, however, Rasmussen’s projections are more optimistic. The marine fabrics market tops the list of rising market segments—growing at 6 percent in 2016. Sales are projected to grow 7 percent in 2017.
Growth, of course, brings certain pressures to a business. Rasmussen notes that innovation is still the key to success—in planning, process, products and services—with customers who increasingly demand customization.
In this issue, several business owners are featured who know all about customized products. One such product is external boat seating that comes in many forms: helm chairs, rail seats, cockpit cushions, tower cushions, sun pads, back rests and pillows. Several business owners talk about how proper material selection can prolong the life of outdoor cushions.
A business in the growth mode also needs a strong workforce. Chris Ritsema, owner of Canvas Innovations, emphasizes the importance of a positive work culture. Ritsema says, “I want to give people a reason to stay here and build their careers.”
Terri Madden, owner of Sand Sea & Air Interiors, discusses the importance of choosing the right cushion foam among the wide variety of options available to ensure a project’s success.
The importance of planning and process are in full evidence in Rick Berkey’s Exterior column about fabricating a cover for a 40-foot yacht. Berkey, owner of Rick’s Custom Marine Canvas & Sail Repair, walks readers through what it means to plan the work and work the plan.
Please reach out to me if you have article ideas on innovation. It’s already great to hear from fabricators who understand how to juggle the daily details while keeping an eye on the future.