BretKelley_2Bret Kelley, a veteran of the textile industry, has joined Trivantage as vice president of sales. Kelley started in his new role in late November and has been busy meeting with Trivantage customers and associates.

“Our No. 1 priority is to connect with our customers and help them find the products they need to get the job done,” Kelley said. “Fabrication shop owners wear many hats in the daily operation of their businesses, and we have the systems, operations, product selection and technology expertise in place to make ordering simple, fast and worry-free.”

Kelley joins Trivantage after 21 years with Highland Industries, Inc. At Highland, he gained extensive experience leading sales and marketing efforts for technical fabrics in commercial, industrial and military applications. Kelley also has experience in distribution, dealer recruitment and strategic marketing and serves as the current chairman for the United States Industrial Fabrics Institute (USIFI), a division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI). He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

“I see Trivantage sales representatives in the role of trusted advisor to our customers,” Kelley said. “It’s all about providing expert advice and assistance to help our customers get ordering off their plate, so they can get back to the work they do best. We’re here to support them, whether that’s through delivering the right products at the right time, providing technology that improves efficiency or by helping to select the best products for each end-use application.”

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Kathy Anderson, owner of Journey Designs, approached Trivantage Sales Representative Kevin Nieters in 2005 with an unusual request: What kind of fabrics would work best for yurts?

That’s right, yurts: the round portable structures that originated in Central Asia. These simple homes have become popular with families looking to live simply.

Anderson built her motorcycle luggage fabrication business over the years, but decided to add yurts to the mix after longtime friend Sharon Morley suggested they build a yurt for her Christmas tree farm in Floyd, Virginia.

The two women collaborate on yurts – Morley provides the woodworking and Anderson provides the sewn elements – which they market as Blue Ridge Yurts. The duo offers four yurt sizes: 16, 20, 24 and 30 feet in diameter. The 30-foot option can have either 7-foot or 10-foot walls. And they offer plenty of special features including door awnings, standard glass windows and French doors.

“That first yurt we set up was so magical inside,” Anderson said. “We decided it would be a fun niche market to serve.”

Most of the exterior wall components come from Trivantage. For the Roof, Anderson took Nieters’ advice and uses Weblon® Vanguard®for its heavy weight (17 oz.), water repellency, durability and color selection. Vanguard also meets California State Fire Marshall fire retardant requirements.

She uses two fabrics for the outer wall: Starfire®, a cotton polyester fabric with an acrylic top coating, forms the upper band, and Weblon Coastline Plus®, a vinyl polyester composite, forms the lower band (and sometimes the valance for a color accent on the roof). Both fabrics meet California State Fire Marshall flame retardant requirements and are available in a wide variety of fun and vibrant colors. Starfire has a cloth-like appearance, but its acrylic top coating brings added durability and soil-resistance. Coastline Plus has a Rain Kleen® finish that helps it stay clean, plus it’s UV, mildew and water resistant.

The windows consist of Phifer Fiberglass Screening 18×16 sewn into the Starfire wall fabric with a border of 2-inch VELCRO®. A corresponding panel of 0.030 Clear, Double-Polished Flame Retardant Clear Vinyl can be attached to the mesh opening with VELCRO. Roll up storm covers made of Starfire to match the wall are held up with 1-inch Black Nylon Webbing and can be zipped shut during inclement weather.

Anderson found it easy to add yurt fabrication to her repertoire. She uses the same sewing machines as are used to make her motorcycle luggage, and only had to buy a vinyl welder and add a larger sewing room just for making the yurt roofs.

“It’s a great partnership because we each bring our strengths,” Anderson said. “We’ve been friends for more than 30 years.”

Since yurts don’t have a season, they easily supplement Anderson’s and Morley’s other businesses. Anderson devotes most of her energy to her motorcycle luggage business, while Morely is an organic farmer, Christmas tree farmer and carpenter.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t busy. They already have orders for 15 yurts in 2015.

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In general, we all seem to know that stainless steel is “better” when it comes to materials and hardware, but do we understand the bigger picture? Why is it better and what applications benefit from stainless steel?

Sometimes, people confuse stainless steel with rust-proof, but that isn’t really true. Put simply, it “stains less,” which basically means it’s less prone to rusting. It is also exceptionally corrosion resistant, making it a great option for coastal regions or areas with high humidity and/or exposure to natural water bodies (the ocean, lakes, rivers, etc.).

Stainless steel is much stronger than other metals. For example, on a larger Bimini top, its strength prevents it from deflecting like aluminum tubing would. In other words, there’s less sagging.

Finally, it has a beautiful appearance, especially when used on an exterior application. The tidy shine of stainless steel is simply more pleasing to the eye.

Trivantage carries stainless steel products that mostly span two categories: marine and shade sail. On the marine side, we offer stainless steel tubing and the hardware that accompanies it, including snaps, bolts and staples. Most of our shade sail hardware is made of stainless steel, for a clean, finished look.

We also offer products in two different types of stainless steel: 304 (good) and 316 (better). The 304 stainless is a widely used material made up of chromium and nickel alloys. The 316 type is also made of chromium and nickel, but has molybdenum added to it, providing an even higher degree of corrosion resistance than 304.

Have you used stainless steel materials and hardware in a project? We’d love to hear about it!

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Do you want to learn how to make the most of We’re here to help!

Check out our new video tutorials page, where you will find short how-to videos that highlight useful features on the site. We currently have five videos – Requisition List, Specials, Live Chat, Quick Order and Product Comparison – designed to help you more efficiently use the website.

The videos combine text instructions with a screen recording that shows how each feature can be used.

If you haven’t tried the Live Chat feature, watch the video and see how getting answers to your questions is quick and easy. You’ll learn:

  • How to activate the live chat window at the lower right hand side of each page of;
  • An example of a chat with a customer service agent;
  • How to use live chat after hours.

Want to know more? Visit the video tutorials page to see all of the videos. Tell us in the comments below which website features you’d like to learn more about.

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Check out our latest sample cards designed to simplify fabric selection.

  • 2015 Sunbrella Shade/Mayfield Sample Card with 16-page insert, item 999604
  • 2015 Eradi-Lite, item 999554
  • 2015 Nite-Lite, item 999555
  • 2015 Cooley Brite, item 999617
  • 2015-2016 Awning Braid Sample card, item 999338
  • 2015-2016 Patio 500, item 999512
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