Morbern Blog Articles

Cool Comfort, Hot Style: KoolFab™ Elevates Outdoor Seating

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Morbern is dedicated to enhancing outdoor experiences with innovative fabric solutions. That’s why the company created KoolFab™, a breakthrough technology designed to keep vinyl seats cool and comfortable – even in the sweltering heat and on dark colors, including black.

The Challenge: Hot Seats, Uncomfortable Experiences
Most people can remember at least one unfortunate experience of sitting down on scorching hot vinyl seats during a summer outing. Traditional vinyl upholstery, especially in darker colors like black, tends to absorb heat, turning outdoor moments into uncomfortable ordeals. It’s a common issue that has plagued outdoor enthusiasts for years, taking away from the enjoyment of leisurely boat rides, outdoor dining experiences, and other alfresco activities.

Our Solution: KoolFab Technology
With a legacy spanning over half a century, Morbern has remained at the forefront of fabric innovation, constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Driven by this commitment to excellence, the team at Morbern set out to provide a practical and effective solution to the problem of overheated seating.

The result is KoolFab, a game-changing technology that harnesses the power of infrared (IR) reflective properties to keep vinyl seats cool, even on the hottest of days.

How KoolFab Works
Unlike conventional vinyl, KoolFab doesn’t absorb all of the sun’s rays. Instead, its special pigments reflect non-visible IR waves, reducing the amount of heat the upholstery absorbs. This means that even dark-colored vinyl stays cool to the touch, ensuring a comfortable seating experience, no matter the weather. By using the physics of sunlight’s spectrum, KoolFab technology enables vinyl and other coated fabrics to deflect the sun’s rays away instead of absorbing them, preventing uncomfortable temperature build-up.

Perfect for Any Setting
KoolFab ensures comfortable seating whether on a boat or at an outdoor cafe, with a surface temperature difference of up to 23%. It comes in 10 colors, ranging from classic neutrals to bold hues across the Sundance textile grain palette, making it highly customizable.

This technology can also be applied to any Morbern custom coated fabric, enhancing its versatility for various settings, including marine environments, residential patios, and commercial outdoor spaces. With KoolFab, people can relax and enjoy the outdoors without worrying about hot seats, fully immersing themselves in nature’s beauty.

Interview with John McGinnis

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How long have you been with Morbern and in what roles?

 I began work at Morbern in 2011 as the National Operations Manager and moved into the role of Director of Global Operations in 2018 as our business expanded internationally.

 Why work for Morbern?  What makes them stand out?

 Morbern has been an industry leader for decades and it carries that passion for growth and innovation today.  I had the opportunity to combine my sales and operations experience in my roles, and I’ve relished the opportunity to provide comprehensive support to our hard-working sales agents in the field.

 How do our products stand up to the competition?

 High quality and locally manufactured (Canada) are some of the most common talking points I hear from our customer base.  When quality and sustainability are a focal point of our products, that matters to our customers.

 Do you have a favorite Morbern product? Tell us what it is and why you like it.

 The operational side of me says my favorite product is the one with the most inventory turns! I’ve had the great fortune of seeing groundbreaking products such as Allante Free, and more recently Evohide, be introduced to the markets.  It’s been exciting to see those become household names since their launches.

 Where do you call home?

Jamestown, N.C.  It is a small suburban community just outside Greensboro, N.C. where we are two hours from the mountains and three hours from the beach.  It’s about as “perfect” a location as there is for a North Carolinian.

 What can we find you doing when you’re not at work?

 With a 17- and 13-year-old at home, my wife and I find ourselves immersed in all of their respective sports and academic activities.  I try to find time to enjoy a round of golf here and there, and my wife and I enjoy being outdoors with our two dogs, Tot and Rudy.

Can you tell us about a fun, or funny, time during your tenure? Any remembrances you look back upon and laugh?

In the spring of 2012, we held a sales meeting in High Point and the last evening it snowed two to three inches.  Two to three inches of snow might as well be two to three feet to most North Carolinians so of course, no one was in the office.  I drove in to update the closure message on our phone line and walked in to see all the executive leadership from Cornwall.  It was quite entertaining “explaining” how this weather shuts everything down in North Carolina to a group of Canadians.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

 It wasn’t necessarily advice but a mantra to always be open, honest, and candid in everything I do. I carry this mindset in both my professional and personal life.

Who has been your greatest mentor?

 While I have had the fortune of working alongside amazing leaders both past and present, my mother has had the most profound impact on my life.  She handles adversity with grace and determination, all with a smile on her face.  I try to emulate that each day.

What would you put on a billboard?

 Perfection is unattainable.  That is no reason not to strive for it today.

What are you currently reading?

I’m enjoying “Icons and Idiots” by Bob Lutz. 

 Every few years, I re-read “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon.  In my humble opinion, this is a must read for everyone both personally and professionally.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I have successfully completed the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh, N.C.  It was definitely a one-time event for me.

What habits have you purposefully developed (in business or in life) that have served you well?

 Always be prepared.  Whether that be for a meeting or the day in general.

 What do you consider your greatest business accomplishment?

 This probably sounds cliché, but I feel the most accomplished when those around me experience success. Fortunately, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many people around me succeed throughout my career.  It’s hard to describe the satisfaction when someone reaches a goal that they never thought was possible.

 

Interview with Brock Emond

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How long have you been with Morbern and in what roles?

I just celebrated my 34th anniversary with the company on January 8. I started on the shop floor and worked in different roles. In 1996 I became a Q/C lab technician and a production supervisor in 1998. In 2000 I was promoted to inspection & shipping manager and I managed the department for 21 years. During that time, I was trained as the traffic coordinator, production scheduler and inspection data administrator. Since 2021 I have been the manager of the Extruder Department and just recently became embossing manager.

Why work for Morbern? What makes them stand out?

Morbern is willing to give people opportunities to grow throughout their career and working for the company has allowed me to grow. For the past 34 years, I have had the good fortune to work alongside many amazing individuals who helped me succeed in my career.

How are Morbern’s vinyls superior to other products in the marketplace?

The first thing that comes to mind is the quality of Morbern vinyls. Working as the inspection shipping manager I’ve seen competitive vinyls from around the world and I know that Morbern’s quality is far superior to other products.

Do you have a favorite Morbern product? Tell us what it is and why you like it.

I don’t have just one favorite product. After working for this company for 34 years I’m very proud of the products we produce and ship all over the world.

Where do you call home?

I was born and raised in a small town called Long Sault, just on the outskirts of Cornwall. I now live in Monkland, a smaller town 30 minutes outside Cornwall.

What can we find you doing when you’re not at work?

In the spring and summer months, I spend a lot of time looking after my yard. We have three acres of land with a large pond and it’s like an oasis. I also spend time working out and enjoying life with my wife Heather.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

I was once told that when you work for someone, work as if you owned the company. If you do that you will always find success.

Who has been your greatest mentor?

My work mentors have been Lew Stanley and Marc Beaubien, whom I’ve worked with for many years. Outside of work, my Grandfather, and my parents have been my greatest mentors.

What would you put on a billboard?

I have a tattoo with this quote from Rocky that’s important to me: “Nobody is going to hit as hard as life, but it ain’t about how hard ‘ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. THAT’S HOW WINNING IS DONE!!!” It resonates with me, reminding me to keep pushing forward no matter what life throws at me.

If you wrote a book about your life, what would be the title?

The title of my book would be “Survivor.”

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I’m a very honest guy so I don’t think there’s anything that would surprise anyone, though I’m sure some of the personal life lessons I endured might make people say, “WOW!”

What habits have you purposefully developed (in business or in life) that have served you well?

Taking the time to understand the people you work with or interact with is a guiding principle for me. I think it’s important to develop relationships with people and understand what makes them tick.

What do you consider your greatest business accomplishment?

I’ve spent most of my work life supervising others. If any of those people can look back and say they enjoyed having me as a manager and I had a positive effect on them, that feels like a great accomplishment to me.

Interview with Johnnie Burke

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Alabama-based sales team member Johnnie Burke sits down with Morbern for some insight into his life, passions and business.

How long have you been with Morbern?

I began my career with Morbern in April of 2014 and have spent almost 10 years as a representative in the Southwest territory.

Why work for Morbern? 

Morbern is the best. I competed against Morbern for many years in previous jobs and always found them to be a tough competitor across products and services. I jumped at the chance to join Morbern and I’m proud to be part of this team.

Of the markets you serve, do you have a favorite? 

I began my career in the automotive and marine aftermarket, which is still my favorite market. I love cars and boats and enjoy the restoration business. Over 38 years, the distributors I collaborate with have evolved from customers to lifelong friends.

How are Morbern’s vinyls superior to other products in the marketplace? 

Morbern’s Allante is a vinyl that every other manufacturer in the industry has tried but failed to emulate. Allante is the first of many products that set Morbern apart from its competition. The company stays ahead with innovation and technology that allows products to be engineered for specific markets and meet the needs of the customer base.

Do you have a favorite Morbern product? 

Being a salesman, I like and get excited by what sells, and for me, the Allante Collection is a definite stand-out. The collection offers a strong color line and three different textures and looks that customers find appealing. Carrara is also one of my favorite products and has been the most widely accepted new product offered in my career.

Where do you call home? 

I am proud to be from Alabama and have lived here most of my life.  For work purposes, I have maintained an apartment in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the last several years because it makes traveling the Southwest a lot more convenient. My career has led me to Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, but I’ve always found my way back to Alabama.

What can we find you doing when you’re not at work?

When I am not working, you will usually find me enjoying time with family, especially my two grandkids. My grandson is a really good athlete, so we are always going to some kind of sporting event he is involved with. My six-year-old granddaughter is taking tennis lessons and has also taken gymnastics and dance.  When taking time for myself, I am an avid golfer, an upland bird hunter and I love to fly fish. My wife, Jeri, and I try and get to the beach at least once each summer because it is the only place I can truly put everything behind me and relax.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

When a former boss asked me what I thought it takes to be successful in sales, I told him it takes desire, product knowledge, organization and persistence. He reminded me that sincerity should always be a priority because customers will see right through you if you aren’t sincere. This advice is something I have never forgotten and that gentleman is still a good friend today.

What would people be surprised to know about you? 

I really do not think I would surprise anyone. I have always been very true to myself and an open book to everyone. I’m also outspoken about my beliefs and ideas and I put everything I have into each day.

Who has been your greatest mentor?

My Dad was one of the greatest men I have ever known. He gave me and my brothers more love, guidance, nurturing and support than anyone could ever hope for. He was always there for us and led by example. He was a great salesperson and worked with a passion that I have rarely seen anywhere else.

What would you put on a billboard?

Mistakes do not have to happen! My wife reminds me of this all the time.

What are you currently reading?

My current business reads are “Talk Like Ted” by Carmine Gallo and “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” by Carmine Gallo. For personal enjoyment, I’m reading “The President and the Freedom Fighter” by Brian Kilmeade.

If you wrote a book about your life, what would it be titled? 

“Anything Can Be Accomplished through GOD and Persistence”

What habits have you purposefully developed that have served you well? 

My dad was a Marine drill sergeant and he instilled in me that the first task of the day is to make your bed. I didn’t always do it but I do realize that I should start the day with an accomplishment. Later I read the book “Make Your Bed” by a Navy Seal named Admiral William McRaven, which reinforces the fact that you should start your day with the toughest task because it makes the day much better.

What do you consider your greatest business accomplishment?

I fall short of things all the time, but it is not from a lack of effort and or strong work ethic. I had the privilege of working with both of my sons for a period of time and I am proud to say that they both have an incredibly strong work ethic which I hope they learned from watching and working with me. They have both gone on to chase their passions and have succeeded greatly.

Interview with Justyna Pikul

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Justyna Pikul joined Morbern in 2023 as the company’s new Canadian Sales and Marketing Director.  Learn more about her background and interesting life experience in this interview.

You’re new to the Morbern team. Tell me a little about your professional background.

I joined Morbern in June 2023, but my professional journey began in 2000. After graduating from an interior design program at Humber College, I started my career path as a space planner for a contract furniture manufacturer. In 2009, I transitioned into contract furniture sales as an independent rep in Toronto and across Canada. Prior to joining Morbern, I spent six years as an Account Manager for Mayer Fabrics, serving the Toronto market, where I collaborated with furniture manufacturers and customers.

Why work for Morbern?  What makes them stand out?

I admire that they’ve built a family-owned business into a global company, with representation all over the world. The company’s culture, its people and the ability to develop products to suit a customer’s specific needs are remarkable.

How are Morbern’s vinyls superior to other products in the marketplace?

Continuous innovation makes them rise to the top. Morbern’s people behind the scenes and out in the field who do the research and development, are immensely talented and driven to develop exceptional products. But a finished product isn’t the end. They repeatedly review and reengineer them, creating alternate versions that solve different problems.

Do you have a favorite Morbern product? Tell us what it is and why you like it.

That’s a tricky question – all products have their own benefits and features depending on the need. If I had to pick one, it would be Allante Free because of its comprehensive color options and its luxurious, supple leather-like hand. Allante Free is part of our MorGreen program, which includes Morbern’s sustainability journey and the products that exemplify it. Allante Free has high-performance features but is free of flame retardants, anti-microbial resistant additives and ortho-phthalates.

Where do you call home?

I was born and raised in Poland and moved to Canada in 1992. Poland will always have my roots but HOME is where my family is and right now that is Toronto.

What can we find you doing when you’re not at work?

When I’m not working, I enjoy being outdoors either walking, hiking, or biking with my two boys who are growing up way too fast. “Me” time, usually consists of hot yoga or walks by the water, which both allow me to ground myself, clear my mind and recharge.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

There are two pieces of business advice that have always stayed with me. One is that skills can be learned, but values cannot. The second piece of advice is never be afraid to fail. Failure is a learning experience.

What, or who drives you to do better, greater things in business?

Customer satisfaction. And that applies not only to products but also to service. People may forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Who has been your greatest mentor?

My father is my greatest mentor, both personally and professionally. To this day, he inspires not only me but also everyone in our family with his dedication, wisdom and the profound impact he has had in shaping our lives.

What would you put on a billboard?  (something that is so important you repeat it again and again)

Mind over Matter

What are you currently reading (this could be something for business or for personal enjoyment)?

For Business: Outliers

For Personal: The Purpose-Driven Life

If you wrote a book about your life, what would be the title?

The Power of Resilience.

What would people be surprised to know about you? 

I own a toolbox and have a small vegetable garden. Having grown up on a farm, immersed in the world of agriculture and carpentry, I gained valuable skills that I apply in my everyday life, and also pass down to my kids.

What habits have you purposefully developed (in business or in life) that have served you well?

Listen and communicate, and always ask. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. And I must add, being a mother of two boys, has also taught me great negotiation skills!

What do you consider your greatest business accomplishment?

My ability to listen to customers, identify problems and provide solutions has led me to win over major projects and build strong, long-lasting business relationships.

 

Interview with Carine Equeter

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How long have you been with Morbern and in what roles?

I’ve been with Morbern for almost 10 years (time flies when you’re having fun!).  I started as Director of Sales & Marketing Europe and was recently promoted to VP Europe.

Why work for Morbern?  What makes them stand out? 

I like a challenge!  Bringing Morbern’s products to Europe, tailoring them to meet the needs of the various markets we service and building a brand that is synonymous with quality, innovation and sustainability has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career to date.

How are Morbern’s vinyls superior to other products in the European marketplace?  

Morbern coated fabrics bring solutions to problems.  Presently we also offer the widest range of “green” upholstery options and this is something our Europe team is very proud of.  As a relative newcomer in the market, we are today leading the way in the next generation of vinyl products.

Do you have a favorite Morbern product? Tell us what it is and why you like it. 

My favorite Morbern product is EvoHide.  It is one of Morbern’s latest developments and boasts 75% sustainable content, which is incredible for a coated fabric.

Where do you call home? 

That is a difficult question for a Belgian national who has lived 30 years in England and travels all over mainland Europe.  But I am lucky enough to have a house in France and that is most definitely my happiest place and where I plan to retire one day.

What can we find you doing when you’re not at work? 

Walking my dog Ziggy, doing the Guardian crossword puzzles, and relaxing with the family in front of a movie or down at the beach, depending on the British weather.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?  

Be true to yourself; if you believe in what you sell so will others. If you don’t – get out!

Who has been your greatest mentor?  

A previous boss whom I’m lucky enough to call a friend today.

What would you put on a billboard?  (Something that is so important you repeat it again and again)  

Teamwork makes the dream work.

What are you currently reading (this could be something for business or for personal enjoyment)?   

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter

If you wrote a book about your life, what would be the title? 

“Is it August yet?” (Though one of my colleagues probably holds the copyright!)

What would people be surprised to know about you?  

When I joined Morbern I was working in the Isles of Scilly, a small archipelago off the coast of Cornwall, the most western county in the UK. (Quite a coincidence given that Morbern is headquartered in Cornwall Ontario!)  During my time there, I learned to row pilot gigs which are small wooden boats, originally used to rescue survivors from shipwrecks. I even took part in the World Pilot Gig championships on a few occasions.

What habits have you purposefully developed (in business or in life) that have served you well?  

Always consider both sides, and don’t be afraid to say you got it wrong. Surround yourself with people who have a positive impact on your life/work.

What do you consider your greatest business accomplishment?  

Building Morbern’s European division from zero to the successful business it is today.

Interview with Meagan Poulin

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Meagan Poulin shares knowledge of her vast experience at Morbern, the excitement of new product development, Morbern’s philanthropy, and her career aspirations.

How long have you been with Morbern and in what roles?

I joined Morbern in 2014. I began as the R&D Coordinator where I was responsible for tracking experimental runs from cradle to gate. My role grew over the years as I became responsible for Morbern’s regulatory compliance and certifications, providing product specification updates and liaising with International Kitting Mills on fabric trials and requests. In 2022, I was promoted to Senior Technical Service Coordinator, where I maintained my existing responsibilities and gained the SR&ED tax responsibilities. As of February, I am the New Product Coordinator. I support the Business Development Manager in keeping our sample production team on task, coordinating product trials and maintaining new product development information across our internal departments, sales team and suppliers.

Are you from the Cornwall area?  If not, where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Cornwall. I really enjoy the small city atmosphere.

Why work for Morbern?  What makes them stand out?

I was first introduced to Morbern during my Environmental studies, through a cooperative placement with the Health & Safety Officer. Morbern has always been one of the top employers in the SD&G&A area. Company management encourages growth and provides many professional opportunities.

One of the things I admire most about Morbern is its philanthropic values. The organization contributes to many charities and even hosts their own annual Christmas Baskets, for which employees and the company provide provisions for families in need within our community. Last year, Morbern also began the MorKind campaign and successfully raised over $11,000 for charities within the SD&G&A communities.

What is the most exciting thing about new product development? It must be fun to watch something go from concept to reality, especially something that’s physical. Something you can hold in your hand and say, “I had a part in making this.”

It is amazing to witness and participate in Morbern’s growth. I really enjoy working with our team of scientists, engineers, and specialists on new and existing developments. To learn from their extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the products and machines is so fascinating.

Tell us about your previous work in R&D.

I began my career in R&D at Morbern. Prior to that, I was a pharmacy manager.

If my research is correct, you studied Environmental Science. What drew you to that?

I have a background in environmental as well as pharmaceuticals. I’ve always had a passion for the sciences. My interest in environmental studies was piqued during my secondary school co-operative placement at the River Institute, where I worked in a biosafety laboratory, performing testing on a variety of environmental samples. It was enlightening to learn about ecosystems, what impacts them, and the importance of being “green” conscious.

How are Morbern’s vinyls superior to other products in the marketplace?

Morbern is a global leader, and it’s easy to see why. Quality is of utmost importance and paramount to Morbern’s success.

Who has been your greatest mentor?

I have the pleasure of working with many amazing, kind, and brilliant people. My greatest mentor is Jean-Claude Chabot, VP of Existing Production & Manufacturing Process Improvements. Jean-Claude has been an integral part of my professional growth, providing unwavering support, guidance, and opportunity. His knowledge of Morbern’s products and processes is astounding and I hope to be valued at Morbern, as he is.

What are you currently reading (this could be something for business or for personal enjoyment)?

Legislation updates for regulatory compliance purposes; I am also taking courses to master Excel, along with some basic programming courses.

Do you have any quotes that guide you in business or in life?

I have inspirational quotes displayed in many places around my office. My favorite is a very simple quote: “Happy mind. Happy life.” I strongly believe that it’s important to find joy in all you do. This guides me in both my professional and personal life.

What would people be surprised to know about you? 

In my free time, I run a small business out of my home, creating customized seasonal and home decor. I love creating beautiful pieces for others to enjoy.

What can we find you doing when you’re not at work?

I am a proud mom to two beautiful kids. In my free time, I’m usually at the pool or the soccer field cheering. I also love to find some spare time to craft, paint or be creative in some facet.

Do you have a favorite Morbern product? Tell us what it is and why you like it.

The up-and-coming Evohide is at the top of my list. It’s a “green” vinyl product, with a reduced carbon footprint. I also really like the Koolfab line, as it brings a whole new technology to the market.

What will we find you doing 10 years from now?

At Morbern, continuing to grow in my career.

 

 

Interview with Lou Vizoco

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How long have you worked with Morbern, in what role, and when will you retire?

I have been in the vinyl business for 44 years, 30 of which have been with Morbern. I have been a manufacturing sales representative for almost three decades, starting in the automotive and marine market, then as a salesman for Futureline Fabrics in Philadelphia. Since becoming a sales representative for Morbern, I diversified and now work with the hospitality, healthcare and auto and marine aftermarkets.

Of the markets you have served (contract, marine aftermarket, recreational vehicle, etc.) do you have a favorite?

I really enjoy the automotive and marine markets because I spent most of my career there and became friends with many of the distributors. The markets often change as automotive OEMs change their patterns and colors yearly. But those changes don’t impact the aftermarket for three to four years.

Are you a car guy, being in this business?

Maybe it’s because I travel a lot, often driving as much as seven hours to see a customer, but I really just need a car to get me where I’m going. My wife and I have a beach house on the Jersey shore, and I do enjoy the classic car shows on the Boardwalk every summer where there could be 400 to 500 corvettes on display. But I never got into collecting cars.

No boats either?

Honestly, I’m not much of a collector. I’m a golfer. I love to play golf and I enjoy the history of golf and of course, I have lots of golf paraphernalia. My favorite courses are Pine Valley, which is five minutes from my house in Clementon, NJ, and ranked the number one course in the world. My second favorite golf course is Pebble Beach.

Or do you have a favorite product line?

By far, my favorite product line is Allante. It has consistently been my number-one seller and can be used in the automotive, marine and hospitality markets. And it’s the most beautiful piece of vinyl I’ve ever seen and felt.

What will you miss about Morbern after you retire?

I don’t even have to think about that answer – it’s the people. Mark Bloomfield’s father hired me at Morbern. In all my years with the company, I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t been kind or fantastic to work with. Morbern people are intelligent, from the executives to the mill employees and sales representatives. And I’m proud to say they are all personal friends of mine.

Do you have any funny or poignant stories to tell about your time with the company?

When it’s time to work, we work and there’s no nonsense going on. But over the years we also had a lot of fun together at conventions and sales meetings. I have plenty of memories of staying out late with coworkers and having drinks, telling stories about our golf game and playing liar’s poker. We always had a lot of good, clean fun.

What is your most marked memory about visiting Cornwall?

Cornwall is a pretty small, quaint town. Over the years we have had events at the nearby escape room or casinos. It is a nice town, but I could do without the weather! Or maybe we should have meetings in Cornwall in June rather than in February or March when it’s still so cold. Two years ago, we had plans to go curling during our visit but COVID ruined those plans.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Be yourself and make friends. It’s easy for any salesman to be professional, but you need to establish relationships with people in order to be successful. I’m proud to say that I’ve been invited to customers’ weddings and their children’s christenings. I’ve even joined them on vacations to the beach, the golf club and on fishing expeditions. I have my customers’ home phone numbers and I consider them my friends.

What are you currently reading?

I don’t read many novels anymore, but every morning I read the newspaper. I like to stay up-to-date on current events in this country and abroad, as well as entertainment and sports. I want to know what’s going on in the towns that I work in, and reading a newspaper provides me with that information. It’s also helpful when working with customers as it allows you to be educated and informed about what’s going on in their world.

Do you have any quotes that guide you in business or in life?

If at first you don’t succeed, knock on their door again.

What would people be surprised to know about you?  

 There probably isn’t much they don’t know about me! I do take things seriously. I don’t take the answer “no” very well. And while I make it a point to laugh with my customers, I do take business very seriously.

What can we find you doing when you’re not at work?

I love going on vacations. I recently took a river trip down the Mississippi River. I also enjoy golf vacations. Sports are a big part of my life, including pulling for the Philadelphia Phillies and my beloved Philadelphia Eagles, with whom I’m a season ticket holder. But my favorite thing by far is spending time with my three-year-old granddaughter.

What do you consider your greatest business accomplishment?

For 44 years, I was in sales and I was never guaranteed a paycheck. If I didn’t sell anything, I didn’t get paid. Over the years I made a nice living not being guaranteed a penny.

What habits have you purposefully developed (in business or in life) that have served you well?

I’m a good conversationalist. And because I’m a big reader and stay up-to-date on current events, I can talk to anyone about anything.

What are your plans for retirement?

I plan to spend as much time as possible with my granddaughter, and hopefully my future grandchildren! I also plan to travel with my wife and spend more time with my children.

 

 

Interview with Chris Zappala

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As sales agent for the West Coast, Chris Zappala leads the company’s presence in California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, within the contract market, marine aftermarket and the automotive aftermarket.

How long have you been with Morbern and what is your experience in coated fabrics?

I have been with Morbern since March 2018.  I began my career with coated fabrics in 2009 with Naugahyde.

You previously worked with the venerable Uniroyal brand. What were you doing for them?

I was a Senior Account Representative at Uniroyal, working in the Contract, Industrial OEM, Mass Transportation, Vac Form, and Distributor markets segments.

You have a lot of experience working in/with Central & South. America.  Can you tell us about that? How did that come about?  Do you have a particular interest in this part of the world?

When I was in college, my then-girlfriend was from Costa Rica, and I visited there on spring break and immediately fell in love with the country.  After college, I had the opportunity to move there and study medicine for two years, before pursuing a career in business. I  continued to live in Costa Rica for the next six years.  During that time, I became “encantado” with Latin culture, and had incredible experiences with friends across many different countries.

If my research is correct, you hold a degree in biochemistry.  How did you go from science to sales?

When I graduated from Tufts University, the objective was always to go to medical school, but I also worked at a big pharma/life sciences company before moving to Costa Rica. After studying medicine for 2 years, I had an opportunity to open an import/export business on my own, and my heart followed in my father’s footsteps – he was a businessman and salesman.

Why work for Morbern?  What makes them stand out?

As with any successful company, Morbern puts innovation first.  This focus on Innovation allows me to bring solutions to my customers, rather than just another roll of vinyl.  Without innovation, you become just a commodity product with no way to stand out.

How are Morbern’s vinyls superior to other products in the marketplace?

Again, I will say innovation.  Look at Allante FRee – we were one of the first on the market to make a product with no additional FR additives, which became a hot topic when California passed AB2998 requiring seating material (as an example) to comply by not having FR additives.  Morbern continues to perform at a high level in the marketplace because of their focus on innovation.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t be afraid of failure. Too many times, people’s fear of failing prevents them from even trying. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t take steps forward even when I was afraid of failing.

What are you currently reading?

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins.

Do you have any quotes that guide you in business or in life?

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am a huge country music fan! My favorite artist is Garth Brooks and in particular his song,  “Unanswered Prayers”.

What can we find you doing when you’re not at work?

My evenings are filled with dinner around the table with my wife and daughter.  We talk about our day–the highs and lows–and then I usually walk our dog.  The weekends are spent with family, oftentimes at a cousin’s house, filled with homemade Mexican food.

What do you consider your greatest business accomplishment?

Learning from all my past failures to successfully launch EMZ Contract Sales in 2018  with Morbern as my sole line.

What habits have you purposefully developed (in business or in life) that have served you well?

The answer is very simple: I remind myself to say please and thank you.  Showing gratitude can soften the hardest of hearts.

Interview with Marty Roberts, Part 2

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We return this week to our conversation with Sales Manager for Vacuform and Transportation Marty Roberts, where we learn about his hidden passions and most useful habits.

Why work for Morbern?  What makes them stand out?

Morbern offered an opportunity for personal and professional growth similar to what working with textiles in mattresses provided me. In my career in seating, I have worked with nearly every material and process of making a seat, except vinyl. Learning the ins and outs of a new product was an exciting opportunity, and the transition to Morbern also kept me in the industry I have been a part of for so many years.  In my role at Morbern, I am the supplier to several companies I have worked for in the past.  The ability to continue fostering long-established relationships in the industry is rewarding on both a personal and professional level. I knew my predecessor in this role, Rich Ostriker, for 10 years, and when he asked if I would be interested in taking over his job, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Morbern stands out because they provide a quality product with excellent customer service, and that’s a team I was excited to join.

How are Morbern’s vinyls superior to other products in the marketplace? 

Morbern’s products stand out to me in terms of innovation. Prior to joining Morbern, I had heard people say that “vinyl is vinyl.” Sure, there may be some similarities, but I have learned that each customer has a unique set of requirements to ensure their product meets the needs of their customers. Morbern has been able to develop product characteristics and features to meet those needs, whether it is for durability, feel, environmental conditions, processing, or others. The knowledge and skill of the team in Cornwall are truly fantastic and this has allowed Morbern to stand out in the marketplace in so many ways.

What are you currently reading? 

“How Not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking”, by Jordan Ellenberg.  (My wife wasn’t thrilled when I first showed her the title.) Jordan is a Math professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and this book really resonated with me. He shows how math can be used in everyday situations to help us understand and guide us in making decisions. It is a fun and fascinating read and I find it enlightening.

Do you have any quotes that guide you in business or in life? 

That’s simple–it’s the Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated.

What would people be surprised to know about you? 

I’m a music lover and have an eclectic taste in music. My Spotify playlists are a collection of heavy metal, jazz, classical, country and slack key guitar (Hawaiian music). I am also a bluegrass lover through and through and even play the banjo. I grew up attending bluegrass festivals with my parents and started playing banjo when I was about 10. I peaked at 12 when I had the chance to play on stage with Rhonda Vincent, an American bluegrass singer and member of the Grand Ole Opry. I still play the banjo today, but not as often as I would like.

What habits have you purposefully developed that have served you well?

I find that staying organized and following up with people are habits that have served me well over the years. Keeping up with both is hard, but making them a priority does help maintain continuity

What do you consider your greatest business accomplishment?   

My greatest business accomplishment is having maintained good working relationships and friendships in the seating industry for over 30 years. It has opened doors and opportunities for me professionally and makes my day-to-day work a lot of fun as I get to visit customers and former employers in my current role.

Interview with Marty Roberts, Part 1

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Professional Perch Master Marty Roberts talks to us about vacuforming, comfort and the appeal of the great outdoors. After 30 years in the seating business, if you sit on it, he’s worked on it.

At Morbern, you serve as Sales Manager for Vacuform and Transportation. I think we can agree that the term “vacuform” isn’t entirely self-explanatory. Can you help us understand it? 

Vacuforming is a process where a material is formed into a shape using suction. For example, to make a seat cushion like a golf cart or a lawn mower seat, the vinyl is heated and placed over a mold and a vacuum pulls it into the mold and shapes it. Next, foam is poured into the mold on top of the vinyl. Or sometimes once the vinyl cools, it is removed and stretched over a foam cushion. Vacuum forming is used in manufacturing for many applications, like forming plastic for (food or medical) packaging trays.

We know you have vast manufacturing and engineering experience. What were you doing before you joined Morbern?

I started my career working for Woodbridge Corporation, an automotive seat foam manufacturer. During college, I interned with the Woodbridge plant engineer and upon graduation, I was hired as a full-time employee.

I stayed with Woodbridge for more than thirteen years in various roles, starting as a process engineer formulating parts on the line, monitoring foam line equipment and eventually launching new programs. In 2007, I moved to Minnesota to work for Select Comfort, makers of the Sleep Number Bed. I began as a foam project engineer and moved into textiles and overall bed construction. After seven years with Select Comfort, I returned to Woodbridge to work with their non-automotive customers’ off-road vehicles and golf carts as a product manager, and then as the business development manager for their diversified group.

Four years ago, I relocated back to Wisconsin to work for Milsco Manufacturing as a project and sales manager in the heavy industry seat market.

Overall, my experience has taken me from pouring foam, to designing tools, to testing seats for performance and comfort. When it comes to seats–whether in cars, trucks, tractors, snowmobiles, motorcycles, golf carts, or even beds–I have 30 years of experience in all aspects of manufacturing and sales.

You’ve worked on many products over the years, from mattresses to sheet metal.  Which has been the most interesting and why? 

The most interesting product I have worked on so far in my career was mattresses. Working for an innovative company and being responsible for designing and developing new materials and products was a rewarding challenge. I truly enjoyed the complexity of figuring out the right combinations of materials and constructions to balance the aesthetic side of mattresses with durability and function. Comfort is so subjective. People spend one-third of their lives on mattresses, but usually spend only an hour or two selecting one that they will have for 7 to 10 years. My job was to ensure customers had the best choices available and were happy when they laid their heads down to sleep every night.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? 

I had an uncle who mentored me as a kid, and I grew up working most summers on his farm. He encouraged me to work hard, play hard and enjoy what I do!

What can we find you doing when you’re not at work? 

I love the outdoors. My first love is downhill skiing, but I also enjoy hiking, biking, running, snowshoeing, bird hunting…and the list goes on. I also love working with my hands, so woodworking, metal fabrication and working on cars and engines also keep me busy.

Interview with Todd Norris

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We sat down with Todd Norris, who covers Morbern sales for the Carolinas and Virginia, to talk about his experience in the industry and some impactful advice.

How long have you been in the textile industry and what were you doing before you joined Morbern?

I have been in the contract furniture industry for 32 years, which includes 18 years spent working with textiles. During that time I have represented CF Stinson and I currently represent Panaz Textiles. In 2002, I founded Legacy Furniture Group with a focus on acute and post-acute healthcare furnishings. I continued that work until selling the company to Haworth in 2011.

You have a lot of experience in the contract furnishings world. Is there something that intrigues or excites you about that part of the commercial design world?

I have always enjoyed the hunt for the next project, the next challenge. I enjoy designing and selling contract furnishings that help people find the solutions they need.

Why work for Morbern?  What makes them stand out?

I first became familiar with Morbern in 1993 when I began my sales career with territory in Virginia. Morbern was, and is, known for manufacturing durable, coated textiles with a deep product offering and custom print options–capabilities that make them a marketplace leader. The company also is one of the last North American manufacturers of PVC-coated fabrics.

How are Morbern’s vinyl offerings superior to other products in the marketplace?

Morbern offers a wide range of vinyl options. These products are superior because of the proprietary chemistry and manufacturing processes that Morbern and its people have perfected over the years.

What have been the biggest changes in the textile business since you started in the industry?

Vinyl fabrics have come a long way in terms of their texture, and today’s offerings from Morbern feel as soft as leather. The issue that vinyl fabrics often faced with off-gassing has also been greatly improved with manufacturing advances.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I was always told to “under promise and over deliver”–advice that continues to serve me well to this day.

What are you currently reading?

These days I spend a lot of time reading about 100 emails per day! But when I do have free time I enjoy reading James S. A. Corey’s science fiction novel series, The Expanse.

Do you have any quotes that guide you in business or in life?

There are a few quotes that I’ve returned to time and again throughout my career. One is, “Common sense is not so common.”

I also admire the quote from Sam Goldwyn at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” A final quote I always return to is taken from several verses throughout the Bible, “Treat others as you would have them treat you.”

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I think people would also be surprised to learn that I’m an Advanced Scuba Diver. I’ve been certified since I was 16 and I have been fortunate enough to dive in most of the Caribbean. I earned my advanced diver’s certification about 15 years ago to allow me to achieve greater depths and longer dives. Diving is a pastime my wife, two daughters and I  really enjoy.

Are you a native North Carolinian?

I am a native of North Carolinian from Hickory. There are two “H’s” in the heart of furniture in North Carolina–Hickory and High Point!

What can we find you doing when you’re not at work?

I like to spend a lot of time hiking in the North Carolina mountains with my wife and our Lab-Sharpe mix, Zayda.

What do you consider your greatest business accomplishment?

One of my greatest business accomplishments will always be founding Legacy Furniture Group. I’m also very proud of the fact that in 2010 we won a Healthcare Design of the Year Award from Healthcare Design Magazine for our Barinomics Recliner, a standard recliner that expanded to accommodate a bariatric patient.

What habits have you purposefully developed (in business or in life) that have served you well?

I always strive for excellence in everything that I do. I also always try to return anything I’ve borrowed in better condition than it was when I borrowed it.

If there is one habit that drives me every day, it’s to remember to never give up, follow up and always look up!