Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 26

[ PERSPECTIVE ]
A FOCUS ON
WHAT WE DO BEST
I
How Greg Keeler turned a harborside whim
into a high-end marine shop.
f a college friend hadn't had extra space in a harborside building he was renting in
downtown Bellingham, Greg Keeler may have never started up Washington-based
marine canvas company Oyster Creek Canvas Co.
After earning a degree in environmental policy and assessment, the lifelong
boating enthusiast had spent several years in a related desk job. But after being laid
off, Keeler began working in salvage diving and boat maintenance. When the rental
Greg Keeler
OWNER
Oyster Creek Canvas Co.
Bellingham, Wash.
oystercreekcanvas.com
IFAI member since 2013
Most valued benefit
The most valued benefit
of being an IFAI member
is definitely the community
and people that make up
the Association. Being able
to connect and share ideas
has been a huge benefit to
our company and was a
game changer from the
moment I joined.
Written by
Michelle Miron
Photography by
Steve Johnston -
ExposureLeak
space was offered, he grabbed it. He had no plans to become an entrepreneur.
" I didn't even know what I was going to do with this newly rented space, " he
says, " but then I acquired an old antique sewing machine and learned to use it. "
Studying craft to learn the craft
Taking a leap of faith, Keeler taught himself enough sewing and production skills to
make his business viable. Initially, maintaining cash flow was his greatest problem.
" The prices people paid for my work back then probably reflected on the quality
of the work, " he remembers. " It didn't look perfect, but it worked. I flew
by the seat of my pants. "
Even today most of his business comes via word of mouth from boating club
members and other tradespeople around the wharf.
" Somebody sees something and asks, 'Who made that enclosure?' and that's
our marketing-our product and customer testimonials. We've spent nothing
on advertising other than small brochures. "
Sewing up profits, product by product
Over time, Keeler's one-man, one-machine shop grew to include 15 machines,
five full-time workers and one part-timer. Projects have also become larger and
more complex, spanning a variety of custom-made boat coverings.
That's not to say the way forward has always been smooth. In fact, Keeler thought
his venture might fail. The game-changer came 21 years ago with his participation in
the Marine Fabricators Association (MFA) conference.
" That really changed things for me, " he says. " I met all these great people, and
I saw that this is an actual industry. Some of the people who were building this cool
stuff were like legends to me.
" Most people saw marine canvas as a tarp-just a cover for your boat. But these
people were billing at a high rate and creating something unique; marine canvas
wasn't an afterthought in the hierarchy of boat expenses. That stuck with me.
" That's when a real shift started happening. I had resources, I saw what
other people were doing and I could call people. "
26 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / April 2022
http://www.oystercreekcanvas.com

Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022

Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 3
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 4
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 5
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 6
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 7
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 8
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 9
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 10
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 11
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 12
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 13
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 14
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 15
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 16
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 17
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 18
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 19
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 20
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 21
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 22
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 23
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 24
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 25
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 26
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 27
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 28
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 29
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 30
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 31
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 32
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 33
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 34
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 35
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 36
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 37
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 38
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 39
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 40
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 41
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 42
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 43
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 44
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 45
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 46
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 47
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 48
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 49
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 50
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 51
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 52
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 53
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 54
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 55
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 56
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 57
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 58
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 59
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - 60
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - Cover3
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2022 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ata/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-october-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ata/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-september-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-august-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-july-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-june-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-buyers-guide-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-may-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-april-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-march-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-february-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-january-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-december-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-november-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-october-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-september-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-august-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-july-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-june-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-buyers-guide-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-may-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-april-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-march-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/specialty-fabrics-review-february-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0121RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/1220RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/1120RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/1020RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0920RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0820RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0720RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0620RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/RVBG20
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0520RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0420RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0320RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0220RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0120RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/1219RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/1119RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/1019RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0919RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0819RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0719RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0619RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/RVBG19
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0519RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0419RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0319RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0219RV_Feb
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0119RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/1218RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/1118RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/1018RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0918RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0818RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0718RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0618RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0518RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/RVBG18
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0418RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0318RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0218RV
https://www.nxtbook.com/ifai/specialtyfabricsreview/0118RV
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com