Hollandale man has area boat owners covered

Published 9:37 am Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mike Ravenhorst works on a cover for an 18-foot boat. - Kelly Wassenberg/Albert Lea Tribune

Mike Ravenhorst works on a cover for an 18-foot boat. – Kelly Wassenberg/Albert Lea Tribune

Hollandale — Despite having a business named Grumpy’s Custom Boat Covers, Mike Ravenhorst is more than happy to help his customers protect their investment.

Boat covers can serve a multitude of purposes. Along with shielding the interior of a boat from dust and debris, a cover can keep out moisture, which can lead to mold, will protect the interior from fading and keeps pests from making themselves at home.

Among the most important factors in choosing a cover are fit and material. The tight fit of a custom cover is just as important as the material, as both ensure the boat will be protected from outside elements.

Email newsletter signup

“The material I like to use is called Top Notch,” Ravenhorst said. “It’s a polyester material. It’s one of the few materials that is breathable so you don’t have to vent it. So if you do have a little moisture in your boat that entire cover will help breathe that moisture out, as opposed to having two or three little vents there.”

He said he carries the 9-ounce and the 11 1/2-ounce on hand but has connections to get probably a couple dozen other materials if the customer requests something different.

“The Top Gun brands and Sunbrella brands are very popular so if a customer wants to go with one of those, we can do that as well,” he said.

Allowing the customer to choose the material their cover is made of is just one of the ways Ravenhorst accommodates his customers.

“I give free estimates and a lot of that can be done right over the phone, he said. “I just need to know the length of the boat and a few other details.” Ravenhorst specializes in fishing and pontoon boats between 14 and 24 feet long.

He will travel within a 60-mile radius to pattern, which takes about an hour. Boat owners can continue to enjoy their boat while the cover is made. Once it is complete, Ravenhorst installs the cover and lift poles, which takes about 45 minutes. He uses the lift poles to create a pitch on the cover, which aids in whisking water away from the boat instead of allowing it to pool.

“The material itself has a five-year warranty on it, and I would think that five to seven years would be attainable if they are using the lift poles correctly and take care of it,” Ravenhorst said.

If problems do arise, he said he takes care of his customers.

“A lot of times it’s free of charge if a snap pops off or a seam comes loose,” he said. “I take care of that, no questions asked.”

Most of these repairs are made in the winter, as the summer is his busiest season. He makes about one cover a day. Smaller boats can take between five to six hours a day to make, not including pattern making and installing time; however, larger boat covers can take eight to nine hours.

Ravenhorst works in his shop four days a week and spends Thursdays doing installations. Currently, he’s booked out four to six weeks in advance.

In addition to custom covers and repairs, he does other canvas work.

“Last year I got into making wheel well skirts for ice houses,” Ravenhorst said. “Then some guys also wanted insulated window covers to help hold the heat in, so I got into that over the winter months as well. I think that’s going to take off a little bit this year.”

The increase in business is one of the reasons Ravenhorst’s wife, Betsy, will be joining him in the fall as a part-time employee. He said she will not strictly be working with the custom covers, but will be aiding his other business, North American Mat Co., which is housed in the same building at 304 N. Central Ave. in Hollandale.

To inquire about canvas work, call Ravenhorst at Grumpy’s Custom Boat Covers at 507-402-2869. Anyone in need of custom mats can call Cory Slegh, who manages North American Mat Co. on Ravenhorst’s behalf. North American Mat has its own business number and can be reached at 507-889-2088.