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| | |-+  Motor coach awning patterns - How many to cover the market?
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: Motor coach awning patterns - How many to cover the market?  ( 211 )
baileyuph
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« : January 08, 2019, 08:58:12 AM »

Good Mojo question: 

How many awning patterns do you have for your market?  There is suspect that perhaps not many
relative to the number of awnings you make. 

From discussions over time, it leads one to think that most of your cutting/sewing deals with
straight seams.  Therefore, one awning could serve for many coach products?

It would be interesting to have an understanding of how much of your patterning/cutting/ and even
sewing is driven by computer.

In reading, you have come a long way!  Congratulations!!

To add, do you use any triple needle machines?  In my scope of cover work, if I recall correctly, I have
encountered triple needle seams.

In all this activity you are involved in - about how much working space do you have or use?  Automation, surely drives bigger space requirements.

Much more than golf cart upholstery/cover requirements!

I find your posts interesting.

Doyle
Mojo
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I'm Always In Trouble


« #1 : January 16, 2019, 08:19:00 AM »

Doyle:

The sewing of awnings for motorcoaches can sometimes seem like a straight forward job but it gets complex. There are so many variables. It took me 3 years to get up to speed on all the nuances of each assembly and a ton of money invested in learning and making mistakes on the road to perfection.

Some awnings require a square awning panel. Many have to have quadratic slopes employed to accommodate the nuances and short comings with each awning. Some require a perfect taper. This is why we have been successful because we are the only company in the Nation that has studied the problems and short comings of certain awnings and then adjusted our manufacturing techniques to overcome them. Some of the more expensive awning assemblies require certain tapers and quadratic slopes or you will destroy an awning assembly that is worth $ 8,000.

Every awning fabric replacement goes onto a mechanical awning be it electric retraction or spring retraction. If your measurements are off a little you can start creating bind or an overload condition on the springs and/or motor. Worse yet you can get some weird extension arm placements that can make the awnings look stupid when deployed.
 
There is one assembly that requires exacting measurements of the panel and manufactured with precise pockets. It took over a year ( and alot of money ) to develop a panel for that assembly type. We perfected it by working with a few customers and doing the awning work for free for them with the understanding we would have to make adjustments. The end result is that we ended up being the only aftermarket company offering fabric replacements for this one style awning and the market is HUGE.

To compound matters even more is the sizing of the spline. Many of the awnings receive certain thicknesses but some of the older ones have a lot of variances in spline size. Knowing what works for each one according to the fabric you are using is critical. New spline HAS to be included with each awning fabric. We stock 15,000 feet of one size spline alone and have 3 other sizes as well. In regards to colors and patterns, we can get any OEM color or pattern fabric but for the most part coach manufacturers used limited color's. We inventory all the popular OEM colors. To be honest, color and patterns are the least of our worry.

We employ twin needles for side, top and bottom seams and center seams we employ a locked fell seam which is first double stitched with the twin needle and then top stitched using a long arm single. Because we get stuck into some crazy dimension's sometimes I cannot see how automation would work for us. I have checked into differing forms of automation and the costs are out of this world expensive.

The headache for us is understanding every model and type of assembly on the market and how to make awning fabric for each one knowing the short comings in each assembly. Because 80 % of our sales are to DIY coach owners we also offer technical support and we have to have a large knowledge base on how to install the fabric as well as trouble shooting each assembly. To make things even more fun the assemblies seem to change every year so after we learn one assembly inside and out, a new model with new features is released to the market. The education process is never ending. But in the end despite all the challenges, the awning business can be a real money maker with good margins and once the process is fine tuned you can turn out panels numerous times a day.

I really should retire. lol : )

Mojo 

baileyuph
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« #2 : January 20, 2019, 09:50:23 AM »

Great Report Mojo!

I can relate to much of the information and in doing some repairs have observed what "China type"
production delivers.  A lot of the corners (if not all) and quadratic panel sizing is literally avoided. 

I showed one repair customer all these points about how the factory had cut corners, simplified or
avoided even patterning some of the cover requirements and he was like much of the market today,
price conscious.  He mentioned how much less the cover cost than traditional good patterning would
deliver, but "price" is his market - like a lot of what we do.

What would be interesting to get into is computer patterning and management of those that require
updated or merely changes.  I see this in the sophisticated auto interiors.

But, like you, I have stayed swamped with all types of work and haven't been able to go deeper in
that direction (patterning and cutting).  One would have to expand their market to justify.  Your
labor support sounds pretty decent.  You have paid the price - so to speak.

Canvas splining -- that was not easy to gather.  We have seen splines used in ropes, trim, and even
in furniture cane, but did not get wrapped around what that exactly details in canvas material?

The point about quadratic patterning is an important issue - boat seats, auto interiors, and the rest
carry that requirement.

Now, wrap all this around marketing!  That is enough to keep one up at night!  Price is sometimes
all a lot of consumers understand or care to.  At least until they have a problem with a product.

Thanks for the input - big time!

Don't retire but how is the golf cart continuing?

Doyle
Mojo
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I'm Always In Trouble


« #3 : January 23, 2019, 08:01:59 AM »

Doyle:

Pricing is a real problem with some customers. Our field is loaded with competitors and the only way I could compete was on quality.
I no longer try competing on price. This has resulted in us losing some sales but in the end that has been beneficial. It always seemed that potential customers who shopped on price alone were ones we didn't want to sell to as they were a royal pain and ate up a lot of staff time.
In the end the customers who appreciate quality and long term warranties are easy to work with and provides us with smooth sales.

We considered going with a lower quality fabric and thread but my business consultants had a fit saying " you will cannibalize and ruin your reputation of high quality products. This is why whenever I devise a new product or business idea I always turn to my buddies who have amazing business minds. A lot of times they agree with me and some times they show me where my plan is flawed. These guys didn't end up with multi million dollar companies by being dumb.

All awnings are attached to the assembly using splines ( gimp, polyrod, etc. ). Unfortunately many of the assembly manufacturers use different size splines. We have to stock a large inventory of spline to support all the various awnings we make. Using the old spline is out of the question as most of it becomes brittle and breaks when pulled out of the old fabric.

In regards to labor I feel we have one heck of a great team now. Our lead stitcher has 30 years experience and is a mid 50's guy, loyal, reliable, honest and hard working. My operations manager that runs our RV parts company has been awesome. A military veteran, dependable, smart and she picks up everything I teach her quickly. We are blessed.

The Golf Cart seats are done. I just have had no time to take any pictures yet. They came out OK. Not nothing like you master stitchers would produce but OK for an old man who hasn't sewed in a long time.

Mojo
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