Marine Fabricator July/August 2020 - 18

HUDSON AWNING
& SIGN CO. INC.
Year founded: 1881
Original products: Sails
Current products: Custom
fabric and metal awnings
and canopies
Number of employees: 25

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B

ayonne, N.J.-based Hudson
Awning, founded in 1881, initially
produced sails for ships in the New York
harbor, but even then it looked toward
the future and new opportunities.
"The reason Hudson Awning has
been around so long is that we always
delivered on what we promised and put
the customer first.We were never afraid to
look outside the box and always adapt to
what the market needed," says company
president Diana Isabella-Wetchkus.
Stefanie Vanderbeck, who spent 30
years at her family's company, says, "In
the early 1900s when the port business started to dry up in New Jersey
and New York, they had thousands of
lengths of sailcloth that they needed
to use." This led the company to start
manufacturing awnings.
It often takes daring-and a certain
personality-to keep reaching for the
next opportunity. Vanderbeck attributes
much of the company's success over the
last 40 years to its CEO. "Ed Burak, my
stepdad, was really quite the entrepreneur," she says. Vanderbeck says Burak
always dove headfirst into new innovations and products, sometimes accepting
projects and then figuring out how to do
them. Burak explains: "It's called risk. It's
called looking to the future.The only way
you can stay current and keep yourself in
business is by re-creating yourself."
Under Burak's leadership, Hudson
Awning worked its way into a new
market, doing work for retailers such
as Ralph Lauren, Macy's, Cartier and
Lord & Taylor. Vanderbeck says the
company carved a niche in the industry

"as a very high-end, very competent
fabricator that was able to deliver to the
pickiest of audiences."
Recently, the company has again set
about re-creating itself. "We have redirected ourselves away from awnings
and into more types of hard construction," explains Burak.
"Architecture and design drives our
industry and that's where our focus is, because the architects are the ones who conceive ideas," says Burak, noting a trend
toward less use of fabric. "We still use a
lot of membrane material because that
is more industrial and meets a lot more
needs than soft fabric. I think we're going
to continue on that path."

"The only way you can
stay current and keep
yourself in business is by
re-creating yourself."
-Ed Burak, Hudson Awning
& Sign Co. Inc.

Concerning COVID-19, "The most
important challenge will be keeping all
of our employees safe and healthy," says
Isabella-Wetchkus. Burak adds, "We haven't been impacted as greatly as I had
assumed. Bidding is still happening; projects are still occurring. We have enough
work in our plant to keep everyone
busy....So that works for us."
Cathy Broberg is a writer and editor from the
Minneapolis area.

18 Marine Fabricator | July/Aug 2020

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Marine Fabricator July/August 2020

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