December 03, 2009
Nassau, Bahamas - A Nassau-based business that started out more than 20 years ago as a one-man operation repairing sails and grew into a full marine canvas and awning manufacturing company is spreading its wings again – this time taking its nautical knowledge on shore with high-end casual furniture.
“Opening Oasis, Chic Living is a natural outgrowth of what we have learned over more than two decades of working with materials in the marine industry,” said Larry Phillips, president of Phillips Sailmakers & Awning Manufacturers and the new entity, Oasis. “The hot, humid climate that makes The Bahamas a haven for visitors wreaks havoc on outdoor furniture and upholstery, yet yachts know how to deal with it because fabrics we use in the marine trade are built to withstand the ultra-violet rays of the sun. They are also mildew and water-resistant. We’ve been working with those fabrics for years. Now we are able to combine our financial incentives as a licensed manufacturer with our marine grade treatments to offer what we firmly believe is the best in high quality casual furniture at the best prices in Nassau.”
Phillips said while he had often wondered about the wisdom of the way outdoor furniture was being covered, even very expensive furniture, two things inspired him to put his knowledge to work and expand.
“The first suggestion came from a supplier who said with the quality of work he saw us produce we were foolish not to be applying that knowledge and experience to an industry that was growing so fast,” said the sailmaker-turned-entrepreneur. The second motivation hit closer to home. “My wife and I bought fairly high-priced outdoor furniture last year as a Christmas present to each other and in less than three months, a red chaise lounge cushion had faded so much it was almost pink.”
Ironically, the store in Nassau that supplied the cushion along with the other teak furniture frequently refers clients to Phillips Sailmakers for re-covering when customers return because cushions or umbrellas have faded and Phillips hopes the store will consider Oasis complementary.
“All we are doing is taking what has been working for the yachting industry where the demands on cloth and sewing treatments are rigorous and applying it to the outdoor living market in The Bahamas,” he said. As for launching a new business during tough economic times, Phillips said those challenges could work in the company’s favour. “Challenging times mean people who are spending are doing so wisely. These times have made us less of a throwaway society. It is no longer acceptable to pay good money for something that lasts a year when there is an option close by to pay less for something that lasts many, many years.”
Oasis, Chic Living opened at Phillips Sailmakers plant on East Shirley Street this week and will host a soft opening Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm.
“We could not have done this without our status as a licensed duty-free manufacturer,” said Phillips “and now there is more work for approximately 14 employees. Successive governments have made this possible and I hope we have helped to demonstrate the value of the legislation and policy.”
News date : 12/03/2009