What started with a small sewing machine on his mother’s back porch some 35 years ago, has now grown into a business recognized as the largest sail and marine canvas shop in The Bahamas.
Phillips Sailmakers & Awning Manufacturers founder Larry Philips said that the business ultimately grew out of a passion for racing sailboats and a need to repair sails locally. The company’s products are designed to withstand the rigors of the sea and the salt air of The Bahamas. Its work can be seen from the sails of cruising yachts to the enclosure curtains of mega-yachts, from retractable awnings at residences at Ocean Club Estates and Lyford Cay to umbrellas, enclosures, patio furniture and awnings at resorts including Sandals, Atlantis, the British Colonial Hilton and Marley Resort.
“I got started racing sailboats and basically got tired of packing sails in bags to Florida to repair. There was none here to repair sales. I got a little sewing machine from my friend Bobby Symonette who told me to see what I could do with it. The whole thing really got started on my mother’s back porch.”
“It just grew from sails to people bringing Bimini tarps. We started making Bimini tarps, cushions and then covers and then awnings. Now we can basically do anything an industrial sewing machine can do,” said Phillips, who also has more than 30 years experience as a marine surveyor.
“We had a supplier here who had asked said to us that if we were doing the cushions why we didn’t bring in the furniture. We started bringing in the outdoor furniture and making our own cushions here.”
(Photo courtesy of Cay Focus Photography) -Bahamas Weekly
The company has operated out of its Shirley Street location since 1999 according to Phillips and is set to open a store in Sandy Port for its high-end coastal furniture offering Oasis Chic Living which is a subsidiary of Phillips Sailmakers Awning Manufacturers. “We are now opening up a second location in Sandy Port, for furniture, bringing in more indoor furniture, buffets, cupboard headboards, that kind of stuff along with some high end lamps and accessories. That should be open in another few weeks before the end of the year.” The company currently employs 15 people.