Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - 25

Q
A
teach team members to use the CAD
technology involved. Newkirk can't
spare a current staffer to take on that
role without slowing production.
" We'd have to bring the technician
in, quarantine them and cover those
costs, and it's just not financially
viable, " he explains. " But I'm still
excited about automation. "
Newkirk's best general advice for
other marine fabricators? Hire for work
ethic, and support employees who show
they want to learn and advance.
" I don't want this to be just a job, but
an environment in which we're family, "
he says of his company. " Try to give
people opportunities to improve and
excel, and conduct regular check-ins to
make sure they feel good, feel valued
and part of the team. "
Market trends:
From simple to pop
With regard to current trends
in his markets, Newkirk says he
is seeing the broadest changes in
upholstery selection.
" Often it depends on the size of
the boat, " he notes. " In big projects
customers look for very simple, muted
styles and balanced tones. But I see in
some smaller boats like ski-type boats
or bowriders, they want busy-ness or
pop, inlays with alternating pattern
or colors that are kind of exploding.
Another client with a mid-sized boat
just wants to change the style a bit so it
looks more modern, maybe changing
cushions so they're a bit more square
or more European style. "
Newkirk says he's unsure how long
industry demand will continue to
grow in his region. As COVID fears
abate, some boaters may switch to
other pastimes and reduce spending
while others may continue to improve
their boats.
Because Precision Custom Canvas
supplies products to a major custom
yacht builder, Newkirk is somewhat
concerned about a 20 percent
Canadian luxury tax recently imposed
on purchases of boats costing more
than $250,000. But he speculates
the tax could ultimately benefit
aftermarket suppliers.
" In the powerboat market, it doesn't
take much to get to $250,000, so people
may hold on to their boats and invest
in them rather than buying something
different, " he says. " Why not spend a
portion of that potential tax redoing a
full set of canvas, the full interior, on
a boat you already know? What we've
found in the past when the economy
slows is that the boat market drops off
a little bit, but people still continue to
invest in the boats they have already. "
Either way, he says he's optimistic
for the future.
Michelle Miron is a Minnesota-based freelance
writer with a 30-year background in journalism
and content marketing.
What's one change you've
made in your operation as
your business has grown?
We've adopted a program to
maintain cash flow and keep
our staff during our six months
of winter when boats are out of
the water. In the fall, we load up
with a heavy round of patterning
for projects to build over the
winter. Those customers make
down payments in the fall; then
from December through April
they have monthly payments
due for installations set to start
in mid-April. That way I know
my overhead is covered, and we
have a steady production flow.
The system spreads out our
production schedule through
the year, pushes new bookings
to June, July and August, and
makes our spring less crazy
because we aren't battling the
weather for new patterns that
need to be installed immediately.
This system works well, because
our pattern accuracy has us
completing a project with often
only two trips to the boat, so
those can be spread between the
fall pattern and spring install.
www.SpecialtyFabricsReview.com 25
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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
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - 3
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2021 - 4
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