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Marco Canvas is a family owned business which opened its first shop in 1920 supporting Pullman rail cars & Ford Motor Co. in Chicago and remained there until the mid‐70’s when the companies were sold to PPG. Marco Canvas & Upholstery LLC, was established in 1978 on Marco Island, FL by Edward A Skrzynski. For generations, Marco Canvas has brought forth efficient products, creating more livable spaces with every stitch and weld. Our old, traditional fabrication skills with our advanced technology makes our business one of a kind; suited to fit any of your needs or wants. Marco Canvas operates with unique approaches to solve problems & create solutions. Not only do we have around 20 hardworking and determined employees, but we have a wide range of products to help our customers meet their needs.
In 2008, Ed Sr. passed the leadership of the business onto his son, Edward J. Skrzynski as the fourth generation and current owner. He has a background in process engineering and business management, along with trade skills in metal and textile fabrication. Ed lives on Marco along with his wife and children, and enjoys leisure time boating, diving, fishing and spending time with family. Marco Canvas notoriety is “Creating More Livable Spaces” through fabrics and metals. We pride ourselves as a team of professional pioneers who skillfully offer custom solutions in a wide array of products and services offered to provide a turnkey experience. Boat covers, tops, bags, upholstery, fixed and retractable awnings, fixed and retractable canopies, solar screens, retractable wall enclosures, custom platform shade systems, tensile structures, custom signage and a variety of custom metal fabrication services are among some of the products and services offered.
This earnestness applies to a diverse range of products for residential, commercial & government markets, with a core focus on hospitality industries. Our standards are to provide state‐of‐the‐art products and give our customers the best service possible. Marco Canvas is licensed and insured and are active members in the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association, Marine Fabricators Association, and International Fabrics Association and are certified by Somfy home automation systems. As a progressive company many of these associations reach out to Marco Canvas regally to learn more about the work automation systems we employ as we break away from the same old traditional processes and products. A few of which are proprietary, a trade secret or even patented.
Today the company has many repeat clients, (See client list), and works both directly with Owners as well as many commercial contractors. With minimal marketing & sales Marco Canvas customer base has mainly grown through word of mouth as a proven value added specialty contractor. We hope to gain the opportunity to partner with you, your teams’ and end users by complimenting your business our proven & diverse talent skills. With proven quality, best in class production systems, and the mindset that partnering with others who share similar passions are the best model; Marco Canvas aspires to be the go to source for shade, architectural metals, and fabric architecture in SWFL.
Marco Canvas & Upholstery LLC was recognized with the 2016 International Achievement Award (IAA) for design excellence in specialty fabrics applications. Marco Canvas & Upholstery LLC received an Award of Excellence for its "Atlas Shrugged" project.
The project was recognized in the competition’s Enclosure & Tops categories. For more than six decades, IAA has recognized excellence in design and innovation, highlighting truly spectacular work in the specialty fabrics and technical textiles industry.
The International Achievement Awards competition is sponsored by IFAI, a not-for-profit trade association whose over 1,600 member companies represent the growing international specialty fabrics and technical textiles marketplace. IFAI received a total of 296 entries from 10 countries that were submitted for 42 categories in this year’s competition. Winners were selected based on complexity, design, workmanship, uniqueness and function.
Judges included industry experts, editors, architects, educators and design professionals who were chosen for their knowledge in a field of study or product area. All entries receive prominent recognition at the IFAI Expo, the largest specialty fabrics trade show in the Americas. Winners receive additional publicity through coverage in IFAI magazines and press releases distributed to media professionals.
Marco Canvas & Upholstery LLC was recognized with the 2017 Fabrication Excellence Awards for design excellence in marine fabric applications. Marco Canvas & Upholstery LLC received an Outstanding Achievement for its Liberty Cover System project.
The project was recognized in the competition’s Travel/Full Covers category. MFA received a total of 82 entries submitted in 9 categories in this year’s competition. Winners were selected based on complexity, design, workmanship, uniqueness and function. Judges were certified Master Fabric Craftsman professionals who were chosen for their knowledge in a particular product area.
All entries receive prominent recognition at the Marine Fabricators Conference. Entrants receive additional publicity through coverage in the Marine Fabricator and winners not only receive additional coverage in the Marine Fabricator but also on the MFA website and in future MFA marketing material. The goal of the awards is to promote awareness of the marine fabrics used in marine products and applications ranging in size and type.
The Fabrication Excellence Awards is a competition sponsored by MFA, a division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International, a not-for-profit trade association whose over 1,500 member companies represent the international specialty fabrics and technical textiles marketplace.
There is a common thread with custom manufacturing—it’s very labor-intensive, very expensive and typically done by artisans and skilled trades people,” says Ed Skrzynski, owner of Marco Canvas, Marco Island, Fla. “When I took over the company from my father I asked myself if I could successfully transition it to some level of automation, [and] increase documentation, organization of work flow and product consistency. The answer was yes.”
Skrzynski’s father (Ed Sr.) launched Marco Canvas in the 1970s, and centered the business on auto trimming, hospitality and upholstery, with growing segments that focused on the marine and shade markets. By the time Skrzynski took over the business in 2008, its primary market segments had become marine, upholstery and shade systems, the economy was faltering, and he realized that to make any money he needed to implement process improvements he acquired from his previous work in heavy industrial manufacturing—which essentially meant changing the way just about everything was done. “Everything has changed at Marco Canvas,” Skrzynski says. “It’s an entirely different company. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been easier to start fresh, except for the fact that we maintained our customer base.”
Skrzynski began by examining work flow and implementing a custom digital production system. “Before [I implemented process improvements] each project was typically done by one skilled tradesperson from start to finish,” he says. “The network was very labor-intensive and required a great amount of skill without too much thought about the business aspect. The focus was more on individual projects by the individual working on them and a little teamwork.”
While Skrzynski knew the basics of textile fabrication, he had to do a significant amount of research on digital production processes before deciding what equipment to invest in. “I had three tradesmen working for me and based on observation of their work, my brother and I were able to put together an automated production line that included 2-D and 3-D patterning and CAD, shape analysis software and CNC cutting and plotting,” he says. “Now, no one person in the company holds the key to the job. We are a team.”
Along with that team approach and growth came the need for middle management. Skrzynski has added a digital design manager who supervises the cutting operator and CAD and patterning personnel; a metal fabrication manager who oversees the welding, metal bending and assembly, powder coating and installation of metal-related objects; a sewn goods manager who manages textile fabrication; and an office manager who handles administration. “You can’t be omnipresent,” Skrzynski says. “So when we reached a critical mass of staff, we promoted middle management from our current team.”
Skrzynski also began using process travelers to act as a guide for each job and honed communication. He color-coded the different stages of production, such as green for estimating, purple for patterning, black for installation and red for sewing. Each project is written on a dry erase board using the corresponding color that represents what stage the project has reached. Each stage also has its own color-coded paperwork, so as the project moves through production, the team can visually communicate and see the current stage of any job.
To ensure consistency and quality, Skrzynski created a standard operating procedure manual. Organized by department, the manual is currently more than 100 pages long. It includes everything from how to answer the phone and how to ask follow-up questions on sales to how to run the cutting table, do photogrammetry (taking measurements from photographs) and model in CAD. “The goals for the manual hit on several fronts,” Skrzynski says. “It allows me to work remotely and rely more heavily on the managers; it makes sure that customers are getting the right treatment; and when the day comes that I want to sell the business it will increase its value—I’ll have more to offer than equipment and a customer base. I will have a book on how to run the company.”
The book is far from a static document. Processes are always being updated; some are eliminated and others added. Each department manager oversees his or her own section. To test the efficacy of each process, Skrzynski brings in someone who has no idea about how to complete whichever process is being tested. “They go through the index, find the proper section and go through it step by step,” he says. “We want them to prove or disprove our standard operating procedure. For instance, can they actually do photogrammetry just by following our written and pictorial instructions? That’s how we know if the process needs to be refined.”
Not only did Skrzynski revamp the company’s processes, he developed an entirely new concept for covering boats. “One of the things I recognized early on was that customers needed to buy what we call day covers, which they used to cover their boat upholstery—sometimes daily, as well as needing to buy large storage covers for when they need to protect the entire vessel,” he says. “The large storage covers are extremely heavy and cumbersome to put on. So I began to look for an easier way. So I thought: What if I made a cover that was on a rod or cable?”
That idea eventually became the Liberty Cover System, a patented retractable boat covering system—but the process was not without its challenges. The cost and navigating the legal system were difficult, to say the least. “Part of our patent was contested after the patent was issued, so we had significantly more legal fees at that point,” he says. “Differences in municipalities were also an issue. We had to do our due diligence to understand various local codes and attain certifications of the system’s wind speeds and kinetic energy loads.”
Like most products, the Liberty Cover undergoes constant changes. Some changes have been based on Skrzynski’s own boating experiences, and others have been based on customer feedback. Some changes have made the product easier to use and others are add-ons, such as adding shore power access through the cover, hurricane tie-downs and a variable height system.
Despite the challenges, developing and patenting the product was a successful endeavor. And while patenting the product may have been the right decision for the Liberty Cover, it’s not always the best route to take, Skrzynski advises. “Whether or not to patent depends on the valuation of the idea,” he says. “What you truly believe the market value is of the product is going to determine whether you should get a patent. It can be expensive and very time-consuming, so you’d want to do a risk-to-value analysis.”
Whether it’s automating production, streamlining processes or developing new products to bring to market, Skrzynski relies on his analytical skills—and his skilled team—to break down the problem and build a solution.
Experience has taught Ed Skrzynski of Marco Canvas that what the client asks for is not always right for the job. Take, for instance, a residential awning project he did a few years ago for a home that was in the process of being built. “The architect and contractor told us exactly what to build for the dome awnings,” Skrzynski says. “But knowing that nothing is built exactly as drawn, we waited for the roof install and then used a laser to measure the soffit, fascia and wall.”
Using those measurements, Skrzynksi’s crew made a 3-D drawing of the awning with a side view and a front view and realized the awning as designed by the contractor would not have fit. “But the builder disputed it so I cut out a cardboard model with the height and curved projection of his original design and when he opened the window he saw that it interfered with the soffit and fascia,” Skrzynski says.
“So he conceded the point.”
Instead of a traditional domed awning, Skrzynski designed an elongated dome—at an additional cost—that fit the space without interference. “While we were not on the client’s delivery time, he thanked us for not having to scrap out the awnings, which would have been over a thousand dollars, and went with our design,” Skrzynski says. “We have been operating this way ever since and have seen this method prove itself over and over.”
What are your testing procedures for when you’re developing new processes?
We do controlled testing. For instance, we took a patterning method that was brought to us by the Marine Canvas Training Institute in Palmetto, Fla., and converted it into digital dot patterning. So we set up a mock boat, did a paper test and a digital test and compared them both before and after to see if there’s any difference between the two. Then we write down what we believe the variables are, and eliminate each one of those potential variables until we find the one that is controlling the particular outcome. From there we create a standard operating procedure.
Do you have any advice for working with vendors to source fabric?
About two years ago we started to get stock outs or un-notified price increases on some fabrics, so I implemented a vendor grading system. We grade our vendors from an “A” to an “F” based on their performance, pricing and level of communication. If they fall below a C, we basically fire them. We always have more sources, but we try to work with the vendor before we take that final action. We’ve also negotiated delivery expectations. If we guarantee to order a certain amount of yardage from a particular vendor in a year (for instance, 20,000 yards) we expect that if the order is placed by 3 p.m. one day, delivery must be made by 10 a.m. the following day.
December 1st, 2016 / By: Sigrid Tornquist