Specialty Fabrics Review July 2020 - 38

NECPA

A C E N T U RY O F S U C C E S S

Hudson Awning & Sign Co. Inc.

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.

The only way you can stay current
and keep yourself in business is
by re-creating yourself.
ED BURAK, HUDSON AWNING & SIGN CO. INC.

LEFT: Hudson Awning's staff includes
salespeople, designers, engineers, architects,
fabricators, welders and installers. An
employee at the company's welding shop.
RIGHT: Elizabeth Lopez works in the
sewing room at Hudson Awning.
Photos: Hudson Awning.

"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."
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.

YEAR FOUNDED: 1881
ORIGINAL PRODUCTS: Sails
CURRENT PRODUCTS:
Custom fabric and metal
awnings and canopies
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 25

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Specialty Fabrics Review July 2020

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