Featured Artisan: Jeff Steele
Steele & Rowe Inc.: Serving the Yachting Community from Newport to Cape Cod
This month our Featured Artisan is Jeff Steele of Steele and Rowe – third generation canvas fabricators for yachts and boats in North Dartmouth, MA. I met Jeff a couple of years ago through his fiancé, Courtney Saunders, one of my favorite peeps who is incredibly driven and creative, with energy to spare…and Jeff shares those qualities and then some, which makes them a dynamic duo. Jeff’s photo (above) includes their beyond adorable son, Leo. Knowing what Jeff does for work, I asked him to replace the canvas on my vintage directors chairs (the orange and white striped one featured) and not only did he do a beautiful job of replacing the fabric (on chairs that are not supposed to be replaced!) but did a lovely job of refinishing the wood arms… I had to know more! So I asked him to show me other work that he did, which you will see. He also do leather work on yachts that is equally lovely.
And while he is fortunate to have more business than he can say grace over, like all small business owners he is looking to the future for himself and the next generation, and the changes to make in this business to continue to be profitable and relevant.
1. What are the biggest changes you have seen to the industry and to your business in the last five years?
The biggest changes in the boating industry is the decline in new production boats…with less new boats being built, there’s more individual customers wanting to renew or repair there existing canvas…
2. What have you done in your business to respond to those changes and how is that working for you?
To respond to our customers changing needs we have priced accordingly and seasonally to maximize our pipeline…we have also taken a more diverse workload…it has given me a chance to work on different projects to gain and diversify my experience…I’ve made cushions, backpacks and recovered chairs…
3. What do you predict for the art and design industry? And how will you prepare for it?
I predict the art and design to provide more options in color and materials available…to prepare for it we have to continue educating ourselves in product knowledge…we also need to know what materials are best for each application and regionally which materials will last the longest…we could work on a boat that will be in Florida all year long and the sun affects the canvas and thread differently and longer then in New England…
Thank you, Jeff for your participation and your commitment to excellence.