Mark Merritt, owner of Central Florida Canvas in Leesburg, Fla., is a fifth-generation Floridian. He has spent most of his career working in the marine business starting with building fiberglass boats in the mid-1980s to becoming a certified marine mechanic. He established Central Florida Canvas in 2003 and fabricates a wide range of custom-built canvas covers in his three-person shop, while also providing mobile services to his clients.
What drew you into the marine fabrication industry?
A passion for boats and the marine industry, in general. I have been part of the boat industry most of my life and I wanted to combine my passion for boats with my passion for design and my need to be creative and work with my hands.
What are your areas of expertise?
I work on everything from bimini tops, mooring or cockpit covers to full enclosures on small to large pontoons, runabouts, large houseboats and yachts.
How do you keep up with innovations in textiles, equipment and other materials?
I read a variety of materials, review industry news and attend the MFA conferences. I read Marine Fabricator magazine to help keep me up to date with what’s going on in the industry.
How do you recruit and develop employees?
I put the word out that I am looking for people through the MFA group. I also talk to industry-related folks who are already in the industry who may be looking for a change and/or want to use his or her current skill set in another part of the business.
What are your biggest challenges?
Some of my biggest challenges are making the time to do the “other things” needed to run a company. Although I will always have a mobile unit for on-site work, the transition from mobile unit to a brick and mortar shop has been challenging. Finding the time to get everything set up, managing the day-to-day and still be on the road has been interesting!
Why are you an MFA member?
I am an MFA member because of the networking. I love finding out what is “new” in the industry. I love the camaraderie and learning. It helps me to be a better business owner and to better service my customers.