paratore.100556In this month’s issue of Market Corner, we share a profile of marine fabricator Canvas Innovations, located in Holland, Michigan. Founder Chris Ritsema has a passion for all kinds of marine fabrication, from the most challenging covers to extensive below deck upholstery.

He loves it when customers bring him new challenges and once he’s finished a job, he seeks to stay in touch with them. We share his philosophy in reaching out to you on a regular basis, whether it’s your Trivantage sales associate visiting your shop, the latest issue of Market Corner in your email inbox or a phone call from a customer service associate.

We’re here to support you in all of your endeavors: large or small, challenging or simple.

To that end, we’ve added some products to simplify your work: a variety of new Kretzer shears and a return of customer-requested colors of Patio 500 Duplex and Coastline Plus fabrics. And with plenty of summer left, please frequently check our “specials” page for budget-friendly deals. For example, you can save on great “beat the heat” products such as our PS1000 awning kits and Bimini’s in a Box.

Thank you for your support. Please reach out to us any time with suggestions and questions, so we can continue to support your business goals and creative visions.

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bimini-webChris Ritsema, owner of Canvas Innovations in Holland, Michigan, loves a challenge. That’s one reason he rarely turns down a job and his projects have consistently won awards from the Marine Fabricators Association.

“We like doing unique custom jobs,” he said. “I like the customer who is out in left field and makes us figure things out.”

He and his team of eight certainly did figure it out when a customer requested a nine-bow bimini top to cover an entire bridge. Using Stamoid® Open and 1 ¼-inch tubing, Ritsema and his team fabricated a new bimini that integrated the existing frame that they extended to the boat’s arch. The crew trucked in 30-foot lengths of tubing during the installation. The two tops connect using a zipper flap.

The project won a 2014 Award of Excellence from the Marine Fabricators Association.

Word-of-mouth brings a lot of new business to Ritsema, including a customer whose 55 Searay Sedan Bridge was damaged in a fire. Over the course of four months the Canvas Innovations team refurbished all of the interior and exterior upholstery, flooring, ceiling and wall covering.

Customers can see exactly how Ritsema and his team transform old or damaged boat cushions and coverings on the project page of the Canvas Innovations website, which features a series of before and after photos. In one set of photos, a raccoon’s handy work can be seen in the form of foam spilling forth from torn vinyl seating. The next photo shows a like-new image of the seat, repaired by Ritsema’s team.

“My web manager suggested the before and after photos and they are valuable to show customers just how beautiful their boat can be with new upholstery,” Ritsema said.

He also takes advantage of the good word-of-mouth to develop testimonials for use on the website.

“We started realizing people were sharing how they felt about our work, so we decided to start gathering these comments,” he said.

He has since started a referral program in which all customers with projects over $1,000 receive a thank you note and a rating card from which additional testimonials are created. The note also asks for permission to add the customer to Canvas Innovations’ e-newsletter list, so they can receive updates about new products.

“I believe in keeping in contact with our customers,” he said. “Right now we send out five or six e-newsletters per year, but my goal is eventually do a newsletter per month. We also do an open house with food and drinks each year, which is a good way to get people to visit and reconnect.”

Reconnecting is key to maintaining a steady flow of work. Ritsema not only reaches out to customers on a regular basis, he also makes sure his employees feel connected to the business.

“My mentality is to treat people the way you want to be treated and they’ll want to stay,” he said. “I take each employee to lunch on their birthday and a couple times a year do a dinner cruise or fishing to make it fun, not just a job.”

He also makes sure the people who work in his sewing room have a chance to see their finished work on the water.

“They sit behind a sewing machine 40 to 50 hours a week, so throughout the year we take field trips to the storage facilities and the docks because they love to see their handy work on the boats,” he said. “It also helps them see how things fall into place from the cutting tables to the boats.

“I have a young shop – most are in their 20s – so I’m looking at the long term future of the business to keep it alive and thriving,” he said.

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In a continued effort to provide you with tools that make your work easier, we’re pleased to introduce two new types of shears. The two lines are of equal or better quality than the KAI and Wiss Shears.

The first line, comparable to KAI, consists of pinking, trim and shop shears, and the second, comparable to Wiss, includes two additional trim shear options.

On the market for over 90 years, Kretzer is the leading German manufacturer of industrial and home shears. With a production area of almost 7,000 square feet, the company produces more than 23,000 scissors weekly and approximately 1.3 million units annually. Standing for quality and durability, Kretzer Shears make it possible for you to maintain the highest fabrication standards for your customers.

Download the Kretzer shears brochure.

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Solair awningVisit the Specials page on to find the latest deals designed to help your projects stay on budget.

With the sun beating down, we all need some shade, whether it’s on the water or the patio. Save your customers money with our shade products special, available for a limited time. You’ll find these great deals on the specials page now:

  • The Solair PS1000 Awning Kit – Includes a frame, cover, motor, transmitter and two wall brackets. The awning is 10 feet wide with an 8 foot projection. The Sunbrella® fabric cover is available in Heather Beige or Walnut Brown Tweed. Discount: 30 percent off.
  • Awning hood kits – Designed for the Solair PS1000 Retractable Awning Kit, the hood protects the fabric and motor while providing a finished look to awning installation. Discount: 58 percent off.
  • Bimini-in-a-Box – A practical option for the custom fabricator to offer a short term top solution when the boat owner cannot wait for a custom top, the Bimini-in-a-Box is available in Grey, Black or Navy in several sizes. Discount: 50 percent off
  • Awning and Upholstery Fabrics – Find a variety of fabrics in the specials section for awning, marine and upholstery applications. Discounts range from 28 to 46 percent.

Find links to the Specials page in the photo carousel at the top of and at the bottom of the homepage. Check back often for newly added products that can help you save money.

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We have re-introduced four new awning styles following customer request for these popular colors: two Coastline Plus styles and two Patio 500 Duplex styles.  A brand new Patio 500 Duplex style also joins the lineup.

The re-introduced styles are:

  • 857233 Weblon Coastline Plus #CP-2733 62-inch Shell Pink
  • 857273 Weblon Coastline Plus Traditional Stripes #CP-2773 62-inch Brite Red/White
  • 858580 Patio 500 #580 61-inch Emerald/Eggshell (Duplex)
  • 858581 Patio 500 #581 61-inch Cobalt/Eggshell (Duplex)

The new style is:

  • 858587 Patio 500 #587 English Brown/Eggshell (Duplex)
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