Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - 22

[ PERSPECTIVE ]
the next step
J
Pushed by the pandemic, Jeff Newkirk envisions
a growth plan for Precision Custom Canvas.
eff Newkirk, MFC, started sailing at such a young age, he can't remember
a time when he wasn't entranced with sailboats, the glide across open water
and the call of the open wind.
That's why sail and canvas making was an obvious choice when it came time for
Jeff Newkirk, MFC
OWNER AND PRINCIPAL
DESIGNER
Precision Custom
Canvas Inc.
St. Catharines,
Ont., Canada
www.precisioncanvas.com
IFAI member since 2014
Most valued benefit
Communicating with
other members
Written by
Michelle Miron
Photography by
Michal Pasco -
Creative Collective
him to choose a career. After he learned the ropes at a small shop in the late 1990s,
the entrepreneurial spirit took hold as he recognized demand in the markets
surrounding Lake Ontario and Lake Erie for high-level design and construction.
In 2014, he turned that drive into a new venture, Precision Custom Canvas Inc.
of St. Catharines, Ont., Canada.
Precision Custom Canvas has since grown into a thriving business that specializes
in custom-tailored enclosures, upholstery and flooring for powerboats and sailboats
of all sizes. His clients range from boat owners to dealers to custom manufacturers.
The irony? He's so busy leading and growing Precision Custom Canvas that he
seldom has time to hit the waves just for fun. He has a 36-foot cruising sailboat
for weekend family cruises, but his 29-foot racing sailboat hasn't seen the water in
10 years. " Part of our discussion in moving the company forward is to get a better
work-life balance, " he says.
From one-man show to logistics expert
In the beginning, Newkirk was a sole proprietor and jack-of-all-trades, running
the business out of a small, cramped shop in the basement of his home. That wasn't
always easy, but his close attention to his work resulted in well-received projects,
some of which earned recognition through the Marine Fabricators Association
(MFA) Excellence Awards and IFAI's International Achievement Awards.
" We've set ourselves apart as not being everybody's canvas and upholstery shop,
but of serving the middle and upper-end boat markets, with an average boat size
of 35 feet or larger, " he says. " We do our share of smaller fishing boats, but due to
the quality of our product and our lead times, we often can't accommodate the
smaller boat market. Those clients often don't plan far enough ahead and aren't
willing to wait for six to eight weeks during the season. Finish and quality are
more important to me than getting the next job. "
In 2016, he expanded into a 2,500-square-foot commercial space, and in 2018
he hired his first full-time sewing technician.
In response to COVID-19, the company spent three months in 2020 producing
personal protective equipment (PPE) for Ontario markets, ultimately producing
17,000 masks, shields and isolation gowns. The regional boating fabrication
market grew during the pandemic too, but Newkirk says his clients were
surprisingly patient.
22 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / August 2021
http://www.precisioncanvas.com

Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021

Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - 1
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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - Cover3
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - Cover4
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - Expo21 Attendee Brochure 1
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