Specialty Fabrics Review June 2019 - 23

PERSPECTIVE

by Jill C. Lafferty

MICHELE QUADRI-BUTTERFIELD WAS
RAISED IN THE BUSINESS FOUNDED BY HER
GRANDPARENTS. TODAY, SHE'S THE "MOTHER
FORCE" OF AL'S AWNING SHOP.

T

he mission of Al's Awning Shop is to be the leading provider of
quality fabric solutions and to be dedicated to providing professional
customer service and exceptional products," says owner Michele
Quadri-Butterfield. "Fabric solutions is key for me. It's about taking a fabric
and helping the customer find the solution to what they want. They don't
always even realize that there's a question that we are answering. Some people
just say, 'I have this deck and I need it covered.' But what do you want to do
there? And why do you want to do it with fabric?"
Quadri-Butterfield grew up in Al's Awning Shop in Erie, Pa., but when
it came to establishing herself as the third-generation owner, she turned to
the small business development program at Gannon University in Erie and
Athena International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and
supporting women leaders. Athena International pushed her to write the
mission statement. Today, it's posted all over the shop.
"We're reminded of it every day," she says. "Every day, I say, 'What fabric
solution are you providing today? What exceptional product are you going
to put out today? How are you providing customer service today?'"
TAKING THE HELM
Quadri-Butterfield describes herself as sincere, driven and strong-traits that
she says are a combination of her father, David, and mother, Cyndy. She also
refers to herself as the "mother force" of Al's Awning Shop. Sometimes being
a mother means making hard decisions. Take, for example, the process of
introducing fabric welding into a shop of long-time sewers.
"Keep in mind, I grew up with the oldest double-needle machine, and
everything was 30 inches wide. I was constantly sewing fabric together and
sewing fabric together and sewing fabric together to make awnings that were
30 feet wide. You just felt like you were sitting at the double-needle forever."

PHOTOS BY DANIEL J. SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY

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Specialty Fabrics Review June 2019

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