Case Studies

USA SHADE & Fabric Structures Inc.

Shading Lives One Structure at a Time

USA SHADE & Fabric Structures Inc. (USA SHADE) can create a structure to shade a child’s sand box or design a fabric system large enough for an Olympic stadium. With installations of more than 250,000 structures, the shade and fabric company is a world leader in its industry. Based in Dallas, Texas, and Costa Mesa, Calif., and operating with 325 employees, USA SHADE has increasingly installed groundbreaking structures around the globe for a wide range of clients.

Gary Haymann, executive vice president of USA SHADE, says the company is a result of a 2004 merger with a former competitor. The initial brand, Sun Ports, was founded in 1991 to provide cost-effective and cutting-edge shade structures. California-based competitors Shade Structures and Shade Concepts – now known as FabriTec Structures – were fighting for work in the same market as Sun Ports.

In an unusual step, the competitors decided to come together, rather than compete on many of the same jobs. Now, four strong brands are offered under the umbrella of USA SHADE, including the original Sun Ports and Shade Structures, as well as FabriTec Structures and Vehicle Protection Structures (VPS).

Each USA SHADE brand offers products to a diverse set of clients. Shade Structures is focused in the state of California and offers an unparalleled line of DSA (Division of State Architect) approved pre-engineered modular and custom structures in various shapes and designs. These are made from lightweight fabrics, which are expected to last 10 to 15 years. Sun Ports’ products range from small 10-foot by 10-foot products to larger, complex cantilever or tensioned structures. Such products are typically designed for walkways, playgrounds, amusement parks, aquatic centers and athletic facilities.

The high-end custom brand for USA SHADE is FabriTec Structures, which provides expansive tension and architectural fabric structures for a wide variety of applications. The company recently garnered worldwide attention with its work on the Olympic Stadium in London, as well as on the British Columbia Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada.

According to Haymann, the company is very proud of the many unique projects completed to date; several of which have been recognized by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) with Awards of Excellence and Outstanding Achievement. “Most people don’t forget some of the larger fabric structures because they’re so memorable,” says Haymann. “You’re creating something truly iconic.”

Finally, USA SHADE has seen significant growth recently for its Vehicle Protection Structures (VPS) brand. The brand was created exclusively for auto dealerships and mass parking locations in order to protect automobiles from the damage caused by extreme weather – especially hail. In recent years, hailstorms in the United States have become much more widespread and frequently more intense.

According to Haymann, the effects of hail damage to automobiles can be devastating. “A good-sized hail stone traveling 100 to 120 mph can have the same effect on vehicle windows and bodies as a sledge hammer swung at full force,” he details. “Hailstorms have devastated entire fleets resulting in losses of millions of dollars and higher insurance premiums. VPS has come to be recognized as the premier hail protection company for automobiles in the United States.

Providing Cover

USA SHADE is a vertically integrated design-build specialty construction company. The company offers front-end creative and design work, architectural services, engineering, steel and fabric fabrication, project management and construction services for every client. When approached, USA SHADE will work with clients in order to clearly establish individual goals, perform a cost analysis, find the best delivery option and quickly get the project on its way from concept to reality. “We can start with a simple sketch,” says Haymann. “Then help them make it a striking reality.”

It is that type of attentive approach that keeps USA SHADE leading the industry. However, it is also the products the company utilizes. “Shadesure [the company’s shade fabric] is used because of its extensive weather testing over the past 22 years,” says Haymann. For that reason, the company also stands behind the final product with meaningful warranties on steel and fabrics. Depending on the type of structure and material used, USA SHADE’s work can last anywhere from 10 to 35 years.

Having four brands that address different sectors of the market has helped USA SHADE stay strong during the economic challenges over the last few years. “A lot of businesses in the industry stick to standard models,” says Haymann. USA SHADE has a diversified product line to offer the best fit for each client.

“It’s always a good business model to offer a diversity of products for a diversity of markets and applications,” says Haymann. “Yet we always manage to stay focused on our core belief, which is a commitment to the best possible service and the unmatched quality of our products.”

Blocking Sun for Safety

Many acknowledge that excessive sun exposure can lead to skin damage and even cancer. USA SHADE has adopted a role in the communities it serves to educate people of all ages about the importance of sun safety. One component of the company’s outreach effort is through a large, inflatable costumed mascot known as the UV Man. “UV Man goes to schools and communities with sales staff to educate kids on the effects of the sun,” says Haymann.

During workshops and school visits, UV Man hands out sunblock and encourages youth to play in the shade. USA SHADE boasts that its products can block out up to 96 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays and keep temperatures cooler underneath their structures by as much as 30 percent. In 2008 USA SHADE received the prestigious Gold Triangle Award from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) for the company’s Made in the Shade: Screen the Sun, Keep the Fun program, which was a multidimensional sun safety awareness campaign.

Combined with this effort, Haymann says USA SHADE is campaigning with schools in the warmer climates of the country to contract with the company for shade structures for playgrounds. “In the summer heat, some playground equipment can reach over 140 degrees and cause severe burns to children,” says Haymann. Shading playground equipment with USA SHADE products can not only help lower the temperature significantly and reduce the children’s exposure to the sun, but also prolong the life of playground equipment. “Shading young kids is critical to prevent further health issues later in life,” continues Haymann.

Global Shading

While protecting people one structure at a time, the majority of USA SHADE’s work has been in North America. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, the company is hoping to deliver more fabric and tensile membrane structures to locations around the globe.

USA SHADE is proud that people worldwide saw the quality of work the company provides first hand during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Large fabric panels surrounding the Olympic Stadium in London provided the stadium with a signature look that was hard not to notice. FabriTec Structures was a key player in the design detailing and final engineering of the banner wrap. The team also furnished the engineering and patterning for the panels and component supports, steel frames, brackets and cables, as well as the installation of the banners on an accelerated schedule. The wrap encircled an area of over 200,010 square feet.

Working to design such large fabric structures, USA SHADE combines function with an artistic flare that sets the company apart from its competitors. USA SHADE’s employees challenge themselves to create new, innovative structures each and every day. Of course, Haymann sees more of that in the future for USA SHADE & Fabric Structures Inc.

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Spring 2018



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