Offering the right shade solutions drives success at Specialty Trim & Awning Inc.

July 1, 2017

“Every time the phone rings we have a new opportunity to see how we can help somebody,” says Jerry Margrave, MFC, owner of Specialty Trim & Awning Inc., Bakersfield, Calif. “That’s the way we look at it—we’re helping people solve a problem, whether it be sun coming in a window, the need for covered patio …

Taking a shade and awning business to the next level

June 1, 2017

“Last year was our best year, and we’re at another point of growth right now,” says Cheryl Yennaco, owner and general manager of Melrose, Mass.-based Atlantic Awnings. “That growth started when we decided to clean house and rebuild the business. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it, and at this moment we have the …

Ideas in harness

May 1, 2016

Michael Lester of MakMax doesn’t shy away from a challenge. He builds a team of fellow innovators and comes up with tensioned fabric solutions. “We’re always innovating,” says Michael Lester, managing director of MakMax Australia Pty. Ltd. in Brisbane, Australia, a world-renowned company building custom membrane structures and manufacturing a range of shade products. “We’ve …

Huge structure is challenging, not impossible

January 1, 2016

When CAF USA (one of the U.S. rail transportation market leaders in the design, manufacture and maintenance of all types of railcars), Elmira, N.Y., wanted to enclose a 90-foot-wide and 24-foot-tall bridge train that was attached to an existing building, the first two shelter vendors they called said it couldn’t be done. Each of them …

Beyond the competition of fabric structures

Patty and Charly Smail of Shelter Structures Inc. build their business by learning from each new customer—and finding gaps in what the competition offers. “We’ve always been service-oriented people. That’s our style,” says Patty Smail, president of Shelter Structures Inc. in Philadelphia, Pa. “We wanted to find markets where they valued quality over price and …

Growth of the gorillaBrella

November 1, 2015

In the summer of 2008, looking to capitalize on the long-standing residential backyard construction boom, Conrad Masterson and his then-partner Patrick Howe (who later founded the shade sail company Shazeebo in Carlsbad, Calif.) designed a permanent umbrella—something to be unobtrusive but provide adequate shade, that could hold up to normal winds and storms and would …

Selling shade

Conrad Masterson, president of Shade Industries, builds his business by focusing on what clients really want —and what employees need. “The first thing I learned when I entered the shade sail industry was to focus on what the customer really wants,” says Conrad Masterson, president of SHADE Industries, Phoenix, Ariz. “That may sound simple, but …

The shading of urban renewal

September 1, 2015

Building on a revitalized interest in city life, innovative, functional and beautiful fabric shade applications are updating urban environments in cost-effective style. It wasn’t long ago that downtowns seemed more like ghost towns in many urban areas. The promise of larger lawns, less traffic and easily accessible malls drew people to the suburbs instead of …