Owner of canvas company in Albert Lea finds joy in having happy customers

Published 12:30 pm Saturday, October 1, 2022

Ernie’s Canvas Products Inc., which repairs boat covers, makes awnings, semi tarps and fabrications for the outdoors, has been in business for 30 years. 

“I can fix about anything to do with fabric,” said co-owner Ernie Bera, including things such as air-conditioner covers, shorestation tops and gazebo tops.

For Bera, he enjoyed the challenge of creating a product out of nothing.

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“I look at a boat and I like to see what it looks like when it gets done,” he said.

Being in business so long, Bera joked he’d learned ”way too much.”

“Have patience with the customers, always think ahead of schedule … so that I have enough material for people to come in and out,” he said. “Always try to prepare for the future basically as the year goes.”

He also asked his customers to have patience with him as he is the only one working. 

“I get a lot of interruptions during the day, so then I run around all day long and I get most of my work done at night,” he said. “Unfortunately I get tired.”

His favorite part of the job was having a happy customer. 

Bera attributed the longevity of his business to hard work, honesty and customer respect. 

“It was my passion and I wanted to do it, so I just started working out of my garage,” he said.

Bera estimated there were days he worked 16 to 20 hours, and said there have been times he worked 20-to 30-hour shifts.

Ernie’s also repairs bags, umbrellas, hunting blinds, winter fronts for trucks, semi tarps and tents, though the company no longer fixes upholstery.