RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — A Rivera Beach company that switched from reupholstering boats to producing masks and personal protective equipment during the pandemic last year is making waves in South Florida.
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Marina upholstery company Canvas Designers of Riviera Beach is attending this weekend's Palm Beach International Boat Show.
Last year they shifted some of their manufacturing efforts to help during the pandemic to manufacture protective face shields and masks.
President & CEO Mike Erickson said they are excited to be back for the in-person event.
"It's wonderful! Yesterday was the opening day. We had a great day. Probably one of the best opening days in the history of this show," Erickson said. "I have been coming here for 35 years since the beginning. Beautiful weather out here."
Erickson said after a year of a pandemic, with closures on and off, it is nice to get out and see people.
His marine upholstery business has been impacted by the pandemic. The business had to shut down for a week before the marine industry was determined as essential.
During that time, his team pivoted to making PPE and masks.
Erickson said it's full circle for them to be back at the boat show.
“We pivoted. We started making masks. Once the industry came back, and it came back crazy," he said. "I mean right now, lead times are June and July. If you want to order boats, some of them are as long as two years before you can even get a boat. So our marine canvas business is busy!"
The mask-making side of his business, now called Palm Beach Mask, continues to thrive and anticipates demand to increase as more events are starting to roar back. They have donated masks to the Delray Beach Open and to all the first responders.
"We've donated over 250,000 masks to this community over the last year," Erickson said. "We are in for the long haul."
Erickson said being back at the boat show feels like the old normal and back to interacting with people but still taking the pandemic seriously and practice good health practices.
"One of the best social distancing recreational things you can do is boating! Get out on the water and enjoy the fresh air," Erickson said.