Shades Asia was born in 2004 when two Aussie sailors, having trouble finding someone on Phuket Island, Thailand, to make covers for their boats, figured that buying a sewing machine and hiring a couple of talented local seamstresses would be a fun solution.
Little did we know…..!
Within a few short months we not only had our boat covers, but we had many more of both seamstresses and sewing machines, plus a steel and stainless steel workshop, a paint shop, and a heap of orders for not only boat covers, but residential and resort awnings and shade structures. With those things came naturally, it seemd to us, a business philosphy, which we have repeatedly revisited and by choice, retained, as the “reason we do what we do”, and it goes something like this:
“Hey! We like this stuff. If we’re going to design and make “cool” shades, let’s make them not just “as best we can”, but as best anyone in the world can, and let’s also try for better, otherwise it’s not really fun anymore, just business”
Within months most of our products were way larger than our shop floor, forcing a move from our humble two-storey shophouse to a 1,000 square metre factory in Phuket’s Boat Lagoon Marina, and we set to work “learning the trade”.
Very soon we discovered that the key was design, and with much help from our Aussie friends and fabric structure experts at Shade to Order, our own design team was born, forged incredibly from hidden talent within our existing team of local young lads and women. With brand new lap-tops and the best software we could buy, our enthusiastic design team were soon designing amazing shade structures and awnings for our fabric and metal teams to build and install. Our team’s raw enthusiasm helped Shades take boat covers to a new level, designing and successfully building what we think is still the world’s largest ever boat bimini, fully retractable and covering the entire aft deck of a cruise ship.
In 2009 Shades won its first international award for the design and manufacture of a shade structure, an “Outstanding Achievement Award” from the Industrial Fabrics Association International at their annual convention in the United States, a feat we have repeated in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015 with an IFAI “Award of Excellence”.
We moved factory once more in 2009, this time having the opportunity to renovate and expand the facility prior to moving, adding a purpose-designed fabric loft complete with sunken high frequency PVC welder, larger and better equipped metal and paint shops, design room, stock room, large outdoor “pre-installation” and display areas, and more recently a high resolution UV ink jet printer operated by our expert printing friends at Grapho.
We continue to investigate and adopt new strategies in our “quest for the best”. For example, we receive on-going technical assistance from International Paints in our search for the absolute best paint system for marine environments.
We work closely with Serge Ferrari, the makers of what we think is the best architectural fabric in the world, and Art Pool Cover, in developing new applications for tensioned and printed architectural fabric.
Our business is becoming more and more “internationalized”, and we have embarked on a long-term program of developing a range of standard product shade structures for export. As well as offering designs of a “universal appeal with a touch of Thai style”, this range is characterised by easy-to-ship and easy-to install design features. In addition, we have identified a growing group of like-minded competent businesses in other parts of the world with whom we now partner in the task of distributing the Shades product into the world.
The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) is a trade association which for 100 years has represented the specialty industrial fabrics industries around the world, and membership now stands at over 2000 member companies from all over the world.
Each year the IFAI makes awards recognizing the best work and product the international industrial fabrics industry achieves during the year. Entries are judged by a diverse panel of industry experts, editors, architects, educators and design professionals selected for their knowledge of the particular category of competition. Judging is based on complexity, design, workmanship, uniqueness and function.
Shades has been successful in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015 with “Outstanding Achievement” and “Award of Excellence” awards for eight of our products.
We are proud of our achievements and the recognition of our peers in the industry, and believe they flag progress milestones in our goal to consistently produce “world class” product.
For many years our company has been a friend and, whenever we can, a supporter of the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation (“PSV”).
PSV is a residential community for less-fortunate children from Phuket and surrounding areas, established immediately after the tusnami of December 2004 to care for children in desperate need of it. It has grown since, with the help of international groups like the French Red Cross, Lions Club International and local donors, and now cares for 140 children in a live-in family-like environment.
That’s 140 kids who otherwise could be growing up in unthinkable alternative circumstances without someone to care for them or a decent future to look forward to.
Shades and some of our friends in business have contributed shade products to PSV, and more recently, with the assistance of Australian friends and our clients, we have focused on establishing a full-time English language tutoring program for the kids, now in its second year. Our efforts have so far provided full funding of the programme, including the cost of employing an English-born teacher, books and other aids. We are hopeful that this program will give the kids a better chance of making a successful and happy transition to the outside world when the time comes.
Our next goal is to establish broader vocational help for the kids by way of a business community based training and apprenticeship scheme, whereby local businesses offer training positions to the older kids in preparation for their eventual move into the world outside the village gates and the workforce.
Our aim is to help them achieve this transition armed with skills in English and a trade.
We receive huge enjoyment from our involvement with PSV, and we are particularly thrilled to see our clients becoming involved with such a worthwhile and well-managed enterprise such as it is.
If you would like to help us with our programs at PSV we’d love to hear from you! Please contact Graeme at email@example.com
Mr Chris Maloy, Twin Villas, Rawai, Phuket
Mr David Lamb, Baan Thai, Surin, Phuket
Mr David Kirk, Chalong, Phuket
Mr Kevin Boland, Surin Heights
Mrs Veronique Dubois, Chom Tawan, Layan, Phuket
Group Director of Property Maintenance, Engineering & Innovation, Six Senses Resorts & Spas
Mr Stuart Watson, Baan Bua, Naiharn, Phuket
Mr Larry Cunningham, C.E.O, The Chava Resort, Phuket.
Jens Schuster, Director of Engineering, Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket
Mr Bob Fisher, Maan Tawan, Phuket
Mr & Mrs C Cuttelle, Hua Hin
Mr John Flicker, Rawai, Phuket
Mr Bobby Yerburgh, Trisara, Phuket
Adam B, Layan, Phuket
Nicolas de Mallmann, Serge Ferrari Asia Pacific / General Manager
Nigel Grimshaw, Kata Beach, Phuket
Thomas Haechler, Cherngtalay, Phuket
Brian Springer, Suratthani, Thailand
Val, Layan, Phuket