Specialty Fabrics Review February 2020 - 25

A CIRCLE OF EXPERTS
Callahan says that, besides sales, his biggest
business strength is his ability to know
where he is deficient. In contrast to owners
who see everyone outside the business as
"the enemy," Callahan seeks out suppliers,
consultants and professionals in areas such
as insurance and accounting, in addition to
leaning on the expertise of his key employees-and even, at times, competitors. He's
not shy about asking for help.
"That is something my previous
industry and previous boss taught me," he
says. "There are friendly competitors and
there are not-so-friendly competitors. I
talk openly and honestly with a lot of my
competitors about the issues we are having."
Through the Industrial Fabrics
Association International (IFAI), he's made
contacts with valued suppliers, competitors
and other industry professionals with
whom he consults. "I have no knowledge
of what sailmakers do and how they do it,"
he says. "But you know what? Some of the
practices they use are similar to what we do,
and we can learn from that."

Callahan recalls attending an IFAI
Expo when he was having problems with
a thread supplier. As he walked toward
the convention center, he struck up a
conversation with someone walking in the
same direction who happened to represent
another thread vendor. Through discussions
at the show, Callahan found that his new
connection could offer him both a quality
upgrade and production efficiencies.
"Confide in and converse with your
suppliers," he advises. "Open your eyes as
much as possible and bring in as big a circle
of people you can consult with as possible."
And just as Callahan seeks to partner with
suppliers and other industry professionals so
that Granite State Cover & Canvas can offer
better products, he wants his customers to
see him as their business partner and provide
him real-world feedback.
"I think [our success] is basically due to
our ability to innovate and change, like a
chameleon," he says. "We are open to innovation. We're open to taking chances."

There are friendly
competitors and there are
not-so-friendly competitors.
I talk openly and honestly
with a lot of my competitors
about the issues we are having.
DAVID CALLAHAN

Jill C. Lafferty is associate editor of Specialty Fabrics
Review and senior editor of InTents.

Snapshot
PERFECT FIT
Granite State Cover & Canvas Inc. excels at finding the perfect
custom solutions for its clients who want maximum hauling
capacity on their trailers but often need to fit into tight or
unusual spaces. One such customer hauls trash off an island
and needs the vehicle to fit on a ferry. Another customer has
a facility with 9-foot-high openings, but uses trailers that are
typically 10 feet tall, with a tarp system adding 6-12 inches
to that. "He's got to get a custom-made trailer, but he wants
to make it as high as possible because of course he wants as
much capacity as possible," says Granite State Cover & Canvas
owner David Callahan. "We did a combination of parts from
three different suppliers, making him a system that was as
low as he needed but could do the job that he needed."

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Specialty Fabrics Review February 2020

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