Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 40

There is a steep
buy-in cost to do
everything yourself,
but it pays itself off
soon enough.
SCOTT NEVILLE
Kansas City Tent & Awning Co.
and Welhener-H.B. Wall Awning

ACCURACY AND EFFICIENCY
Designing, fabricating and finishing
metal frames requires a dedicated
space, specialized equipment and skills,
and a willingness to stay current with
technology and trends. Muskegon Awning
& Fabrication of Muskegon, Mich., has
always done welding and metalwork
in-house and continuously invests in
the operation. The company has served
western Michigan and the surrounding
area for 130 years, originally by sewing
feed bags and repairing horse harnesses,
and today by manufacturing and installing
fabric and metal awnings, covers and other
specialty fabric products for residential and
commercial customers.
"Lately, we've added more capabilities
in order to create metal awnings, either
a standing seam type or flat panel, which
seem to be getting more popular," says
owner David Bayne. Bayne bought
the company 15 years ago and added
a showroom, Grand Rapids Awnings,

A multilevel walkway cover by sister companies Kansas City Tent & Awning Co. and Welhener-
H.B. Wall Awning required a custom aluminum frame that fit into and around existing structures
not initially designed for fabric. Having in-house metalworking capabilities meant the companies
could fabricate both the frame and special attachment pieces needed to bring the project to life.
Photo: Kansas City Tent & Awning Co. and Welhener-H.B. Wall Awning.

in 2012. In the metal shop, Muskegon
Awning uses both MIG and TIG welders
and recently purchased a fully automatic
push feed cut-off saw, which has allowed
the shop to be more precise and efficient.
"The more accurate your cuts are, the
better it welds; plus the welder doesn't have
to figure out how to cut it," Bayne says. "And
because it's computerized, we can save it
in the system and rerun it if the customer
wants to order more down the road."
Automation also means the company
can handle large volume jobs, such as
a recent project that called for 1,000
identical awnings.
Bayne points out that as much as
Muskegon Awning tries to keep things
in-house for cost-efficiency and quality
control, it's just as important to know
when to send something out. Some
shops also outsource finishing work,
such as galvanizing and painting
frames and components.
"We had a job for a thousand-foot
walkway that required 5 tons of steel for
support columns that we farmed out," he
says. "They're heavy, and we didn't want
to mess with them in the shop while we
were working on the canopy."
SKILL ACQUISITION
Fred's Tents & Canopies Inc. prides
itself on doing it all. The Waterford,
N.Y.-based company has invested in
equipment, staff and facilities to fabricate
frames and parts in either aluminum or
steel, including fittings and components,
pole tent plates, tent masts, side poles,
stake bars, door components, bent arches
and ornamental details.
Although the company has always
manufactured metal parts, the process of
making those parts and pieces has changed
significantly over the past 30 years, and
exponentially over the last 10 years,
according to Fred's Tents president Fred
Tracy. Tracy says that the investment in
space and equipment has been worthwhile,

40 REVIEW MAY 2020

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4/21/20 11:26 AM



Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020

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