Specialty Fabrics Review February 2020 - 23

PERSPECTIVE

by Jill C. Lafferty

TO CHANGE
AFTER JUMPING FROM THE FOOD INDUSTRY
TO TRUCK TARPS, DAVID CALLAHAN TARGETS
CUSTOMERS WHO VALUE QUALITY AND
INNOVATION OVER PRICE.

L

ocal competitors are trying to
go cheaper and cheaper, while
we're trying to do more and more
quality," says David Callahan, owner of
Granite State Cover & Canvas Inc., based
in Plaistow, N.H. "It's been a good
challenge to educate our customers that
our product is more expensive because
it has different features that will make it
last longer. I always equate it into thirds:
a third of the people want the best quality
that's going to last the longest, a third
want the cheapest product-forget about
quality-and there's a third in the middle
we've got to educate. We're not going to
get a lot of the bottom third, but we get
100 percent of the top third and probably
a significant chunk of the middle third
because we can educate them as to why
we do things the way we do."
Granite State Cover & Canvas
manufactures truck tarps and installs
a variety of truck tarp systems, offering
custom solutions for clients in a range
of hauling industries. But when Callahan
purchased the company in 2007, he was
the one who needed to be educated. His
background was in the food industry,
not specialty fabrics. He was experienced,
however, in sales and customer service,
and had previously owned and then
sold a business.

"When I sold [the food business],
I had to stay with the company as a
consultant for five years," he says. "After
the five-year period was up, I was looking
to buy another business in the food
industry. I'd been courting an owner and
to make a long story short, at the eleventh
hour he said, 'I'm not selling.' So after
months of due diligence and lawyers and
accountants, I went there for one final
meeting and came out of there completely
depressed. It was a dead deal."
Callahan called a consultant he had
been working with to share the bad news,
and the consultant responded by asking
to meet him at another business whose
owner was interested in selling.
"I asked, 'What does he do?' and
the consultant said, 'He's in the trucking
business.' I said, 'What do I know about
the trucking business?'"
As it turned out, Callahan and the
seller of Granite State Cover & Canvas
had a few mutual acquaintances. For the
seller, finding a buyer he could trust was
key-the seller owned the industrial park
where the business was located and would
be the new owner's landlord. The seller
was also planning to buy a business that
would supply mesh materials to Granite
State Cover & Canvas, so the two would
be doing business with each other.

PHOTOS BY DUSTIN MARSHALL; WWW.DMARSHALLPHOTO.COM

www.SpecialtyFabricsReview.com 23


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Specialty Fabrics Review February 2020

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