Where there is a man with a boat, there is an opportunity to make money selling him a custom boat cover. Knoxville News Sentinel recently covered the story of one man who has made it his business to provide this service.
Harris learned the art of making boat covers from his father in a family business that served the huge number of boat owners in the Spokane, Wash., area. Later, he and his wife, Becky, operated their own boat business for 25 years.
The Tuff Tops product line includes enclosures for pontoon boats, Bimini tops, mooring covers, tunnel covers and more. The products are all built to customer specifications for height, size and color.
Harris said it's easy to tell the difference between the work of an amateur and a professional. His stitching is always neat and even, he pointed out.
In addition to workmanship, raw materials are very important. Although cover makers refer to their art as working with canvas, in fact, canvas has not been used in the business for years.
Harris mostly works with vinyl and acrylic materials. Thread is high-quality cotton wrapped because the material can absorb moisture, swell and provide a tighter, more waterproof seal, he said. Selection of marine-grade hardware and fittings such as zippers also is important, he said.
Photo by Elliott Brown