Rick Ostler – Is a 5th generation upholsterer dating back to England. My Grandfather came over to Canada from England and operated a Furniture Upholstery Business. After WWII my father spent most of his work life doing Auto Upholstery. After I finished school in 1970 I started working with my Father doing Auto Upholstery in Toronto.
Then we decided to move to Peterborough to open a family upholstery business. Peterborough being located in the Kawartha Lakes area and right on the Trent Severn Waterway – it was a natural fit to get into doing boat canvas. When dad retired, I took over the business and specialized in the boating industry doing custom boat tops, cockpit covers and travel/trailer boat covers.
I get asked often, So What lead you to change your business model to online from offline?
Being in business for over 46 years, I have gone through many dips in the economy. When times get tough, as I’m sure you know – the boating industry is one of the hardest hit.
I knew I needed to change my business model in a way that I could reach out beyond my local boating area to help boaters with their boat canvas needs. In a nut shell – we have heard this saying many times “I knew There Had to Be a Better Way”
We are a manufacture and Distributor of boat canvas and boat carpet products. By using factory original patterns, we do not need the boat in our facility. The boat can remain in the water and we have the ability to ship worldwide. We have access to factory original patterns for over 100 boat manufacturers and models.
In order to change from an offline business to an online business – I felt that I really needed a product that stood out from the rest. About 5 years ago I created a way to make enclosures for pontoon boats without needing the customer’s boat in our shop location. This would give me the ability to promote – sell and ship worldwide.
What do we offer your DIY customers
If you know someone who can sew – we offer cockpit cover and bow cover DIY kits. They come complete with all Sunbrella or Polyester fabric, binding, webbing for reinforcing, outdoor thread, fasteners with installation tool. Also includes instructions, email and telephone support if needed.
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I was a guest on ProBoat Radio. I was invited to talk with Barbara Jean Walsh as part of their Do-It-Yourself series radio shows.