Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 23

interviews and data points, as I call them,
that funnels them through and produces
fairly consistent and predictable results. It's
not an exact science, but you are trying to
make it somewhat or more scientific. You
are trying to take the variation out of it.
That part of it is not easy."
The scientific approach to building a
competent, reliable and passionate team
doesn't end when a new associate is on
board, either.
"When somebody leaves, you have
to ask: Why did that not work out?
Why did that person leave our company?
Were they never engaged in the company's
mission? Was it a failure of leadership? Did
they not get trained properly or never get
connected? Or maybe it was not anybody's
fault. Maybe they just had a better
opportunity somewhere else."
FORGING AHEAD
Fifteen years after wrinkling his nose at
the idea of an awning business, Adams
chairs the board of the Professional
Awning Manufacturers Association
(PAMA) of IFAI. But he still sometimes
feels like a neophyte in the industry.
"My peer group is families that
have been in the awning business for
generations, and here I am for 15 years,"
he says. "It's a substantial length of time
in my life and business career, but I'm
frequently surrounded by people who
are much more tenured and seasoned."
While his locations may be relatively
young in the awning world, Adams has
faced the ups and downs of business cycles.
Seeing his way through the Great Recession
is one of his proudest accomplishments.
"When the financial markets collapsed
[in 2008], it was a very uncertain time," he
says. "I continued to be optimistic. I didn't
lay anybody off; I didn't pull back. I kept
investing in my business-methodically, not
recklessly. I think while other people were
pulling back, we were forging ahead, and
so I'm proud of that period."

Because of their association with the
construction industry, Adams's businesses
were deemed essential during the COVID19 pandemic. He describes the early weeks
of the crisis as a bit like directing a play with
actors coming on and off stage. Installers
would leave the facilities before other
associates would arrive, and those who
could work remotely were allowed to do so.
"Being a small business owner, you just
never know what you are going to come
up against in a day or week or month," he
says. "Especially right now, it's like walking
through a field of land mines just to keep
open. You've got to be super agile, very
creative, thoughtful and deliberate with
how you are structuring your workforce
and looking out for your people, not putting
them in harm's way, and allowing people
the opportunity to work remotely where
possible. You have to trust that people are
doing the right thing-and if you selected
the right people, they are out there doing
the right thing."
Jill C. Lafferty is senior editor of
Specialty Fabrics Review.

What do you love
about your work?
I like to say that we spend
a third of our time as manufacturers,
a third in construction and a third
as artists. That's the great thing
about the awning business: it's equal
parts manufacturing, being a field
tradesperson like a brick mason
or electrician, and being an artist,
because we get to be incredibly creative
about the work we produce. No two
projects are alike. We get to create
something that is really custom and
fits the customers' needs. I love all
three aspects of the business. I love the
science of being the field tradesperson.
That fell out of vogue somewhere
along the line-it became not real
cool to be a tradesperson, but right
now in particular, the tradespeople
are the people who are still working.
I love being a manufacturer and I
love the science of what goes on
in our shop. And I love the creative
ability to be an artist every day.

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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020

Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 3
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 4
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 5
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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 7
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