TLC Kanvas is true family owned and operated full-service canvas shop that cuts everything from Tupperware bags, to inventory bins for large trucking companies, to dog collars — all with the best quality.
Lonnie and Carol have been married for 40 years, and opened shop in 1980 when Lonnie got out of the Marine Corps. Lonnie says he’s handy and claims Carol is “the best engineer without an engineering degree you’ll ever meet.” Two years ago they added Carol’s brother Todd to the team. With Lonnie’s grit, Carol’s know how, and Todd’s financial background (he previously worked at Arthur Anderson) they are ready to tackle bigger jobs with an eye toward systems, numbers, and profitability.
For over 30 years their motto has been — no job is too small, or too big, we do it all! To help with their thriving bag business in the early 90’s they purchased a complex automated cutting system that didn’t survive a transition in the business. Twenty years later, looking to get back into automated cutting, they wanted a cutter that was as simple, reliable, and affordable as their new business plan. They decided on the Carlson Design PT-108″ Plotter/Cutter on a home built 40′ long table.
TLC estimate a one-year Return-On-Investment due to a 10-20% savings in sewing time alone – less notching, marking seam lines, and cleaning up cuts, meaning the machine will have paid for itself by the year’s end by return its original value to the bottom line. By the time TLC also factor in cut-time savings, reduced fabric waste, and harder-to-quantify savings due to improved quality – on-time delivery, fewer returns and re-cuts, for example – they should exceed their initial ROI goal.
Small custom bags use to make up the majority of their business, but in the last few years they have moved to larger projects. These projects have helped them realize year-over-year revenue growth in the 30-60% range, and bags now make up only 5% of sales. This growth is driven by a focus on larger quality canvas projects like inventory racking bags for major trucking companies.
Bag makers are notoriously good sewers, with a fine eye toward quality. Carol uses here keen eye and years of experience to make products that are built to last.
Todd dowloaded our plugin for Sketchup a few weeks before we arrived. This gave him time to get comfortable with drawing his own patterns, so he had a project ready to go! We also digitized one unusual panel using the Plotter/Cutter. This was a big job, with lots of parts. What would have normally taken “several days” was marked and cut in 5 hours. To boot, these finished cuts were more accurate and included notches and seam lines their previous patterns were missing. This helps the sewers and reduces error from stack punching. After our first cut we heard one sewer remark,
“We’re not gonna to know how to sew something this straight! We’re too use to sewing cuts that are all whopper-jobbed”
We cut over 200 sleeves in 16 minutes vs. 221 minutes by hand. That’s a direct labor savings of $58 in this single cut. If they saved $58 per day — that’s almost $15,000 per year in just cutting labor savings alone.
We test cut a wide variety of fabrics and product lines during training. The goal is to address both upcoming production and increase exposure to everything you might want to cut on the new table.
They have been estimating one minute per piece, but the plotter/cutter is consistently cutting at 20 seconds, with marks and notches — something not included in their original one minute estimate. On average Todd estimates the plotter/cutter is 10x faster than hand cutting.
TLC Kanvas prides itself on being able to design, manufacture, and distribute the the highest quality custom canvas products. They are really excited about an up-and-coming new dog collar product they have been making for a local entrepreneur.
When they were making their bags they had over 150 sales reps across the country. Using the internet and catering to small entrepreneurs they are now able to manufacture fantastic products without needing to manage a large sales force.
TLC Kanvas ordered a rotary punch to make consistent marks that can be seen on the backside of the material. The rotary punch mounts in place of the pen holder and can be added or removed in less than 15 seconds.
TLC Management Team:
We would like to give a big thanks to the TLC Kanvas team that made such a successful installation possible. Here’s to Lonnie, Carol, and Todd!
OK, let’s have a look at their installation.
A few things to note — TLC Kanvas decided to build their own 9′ wide x 40′ long, which they prepped and assembled before we arrived. We provided plans for the table, which they adapted according to their building materials and application. A Carlson Phillocraft table 9’x40′ is $35/sqft and would cost $12,600. The Phillocraft tables come in endless 4′ long steel frame sections and are easy to assemble, however they are not so special, so many customer build their own. Lonnie estimated it cost them $3000 to build their table (excluding labor costs). This is a great way to cut costs, allowing them to justify buying a wider system.
Install photos below…
Thank you for a great install. Big thanks to Sue, Lonnie, Carol, Todd, and the best of the TLC Kanvas team. We look forward to stories of their future success!