William Miller is the owner, manager and fabricator of Colonville Canvas, a Clare, Mich.-based company that specializes in marine covers, enclosures, bimini tops and upholstery. Miller grew up learning about the industry in his father’s shop. He opened his own shop in 2014 and just finished doubling its size to approximately 3,000 square feet to serve his customers better. Miller has one employee.
What drew you into the marine fabrication industry?
Growing up in my dad’s shop in Wisconsin we did everything from semi-trailer roll tarps to marine upholstery, but boats were always my favorite. I dare say that boat canvas is in my blood.
What are your areas of expertise?
We specialize in marine canvas and upholstery, with some awnings here and there. We are very picky about what we take on outside the marine line.
How do you keep up with innovations in textiles, equipment and other materials?
I keep up by being a member of IFAI, and reading the IFAI and MFA magazines. Also, networking with fellow fabricators is very helpful and important.
I have been very lucky with the employee I have. But I always keep my eyes and ears open for that person with the right talent looking for something different.
What are your biggest challenges?
Our biggest challenges are time and finding parking space for boats. We are normally booked out three to four months. I’m trying to figure out a better scheduling plan.
Why are you an MFA member?
The MFA is a great source of information and support in the industry. I also really enjoy reading the publications and gather all I can from them. I want to attend my first regional workshop this fall in Detroit, Mich.