The boating market in Michigan is an enormously vast and layered ecosystem.
Featuring over 11,000 inland lakes, boating is huge in Michigan. The marine market here is a gigantic floating Fraggle Rock of various suppliers and service providers.
Located only four miles west of legendary Lake St. Clair, you will find one of those talented companies in Clinton Township called LegaSea Canvas & Upholstery.
Nationally known for his talented abilities, Craig Janis is a marine fabricator and upholsterer.
His warehouse LegaSea Canvas & Upholstery is the scene of dozens of projects and custom DIY jobs for the marine industry.
Craig is a cool dude. And being a lifelong boater, he is incredibly knowledgeable about the multi-faceted boating industry with a specialized focus on all things canvas and upholstery.
“I was born October 8th, 1970 at St. John’s Hospital in Detroit on Mack and Moross.”
“Grew up in Roseville, Michigan and graduated from Fraser High School in 1988. Played hockey as a goalie at Fraser Hockeyland, the 2nd largest ice arena complex in the USA, for many years. I’ve been a life-long hockey fan and now my son plays hockey.”
“My dad Joe bought our first family boat when I was 8-years old. It was a little 14-foot fiberglass runabout with a 35hp Johnson on it.”
“Growing up on Lake St. Clair, we’d boat every single summer. In 1986, my dad bought an 18’ Thompson bowrider and kept it on a trailer. My grandpa had a cottage Up North on Lake Ogemaw in West Branch and we would camp and take the boat up there.”
“For over 25 years, I’ve been married to the same wonderful woman and we have two kids. Our daughter is 21 and our son is 20.”
“Currently, we own a 2007 350 Rinker Express Cruiser and you can typically find us hanging out in The Moot (ie: Muscamoot Bay, Lake St. Clair) on the weekends. There’s easily 25,000+ boats on any given Summer weekend out on Lake St. Clair.”
“I love the Michigan boating community because of the camaraderie and friendships. 99% of the people are real cool. There’s a lot of great people and it’s very social. You meet cool new people all the time, along with seeing your regular friends every weekend out there.”
“Every year, my wife and I go with friends and family to the boat parties Jobbie Nooner and Raft Off. We love the boat parties. It’s an incredible collection of boats and fun people out there.”
“Our favorite hangouts on LSC are Browns Bar (Harsens Island) and Bumpers Landing (Harrison Twsp). Both have great boating atmospheres. And also, Island Grill (Fair Haven) on north Anchor Bay has a cool island vibe.”
LegaSea Canvas & Upholstery
“LegaSea actually started from my mother Rita and our company is named in honor of her. She was a seamstress and taught me how to fix my own canvas and do upholstery work.”
“We are currently a two-man operation. I work with my brother, Jason Janis. I do the fabric work, and Jason does things like building backer boards and the skeletal structures for upholstery.”
“We do bimini’s, interiors, seat repairs, custom foam shaping for upholstery, canvas reconditioning, etc, anything you need. Bimini full enclosures are the most challenging and also the most fun.”
“I’ve done this sort of work as a hobby for 10+ years for friends and acquaintances before turning it into a business. I was able to successfully transition from the auto industry into doing this full-time, which is great, because I’m far more passionate about this type of work.”
“Recently, I had to go out and pattern a full-enclosure on a 32’ Rinker. Got to work out on the lake in the sun all day. I love it.
“Some of the most common tools I use are:
Foam saw, hot knife, Gingher shears, and Sailrite stapler for upholstery.”
“Typically, customers pay half up front, then the pay the rest upon satisfactory completion of their project.”
“It is oftentimes best if people drop their boats off on a trailer here at the shop. Otherwise, we can come out to your boat and take some measurements.”
“In the shop right now, I’m working on a 2018 cover for a 32-foot Sunsation center console. They brought it in because the cover shrank. So, I put an extension on it and modified it with bungees.”
“We’re also currently working on doing a full enclosure of a 41-foot long ’95 Silverton Flybridge. And on this one, I’m going out to their boat to pattern it. They’re not bringing it here.”
“On my own personal boat right now, we’re doing some cushion replacements. I was trying to find piping that matches the rest and I couldn’t find it, so I ended up making my own piping. Piping, for those who don’t know, gives marine seat upholstery a more polished and finished look. It curves around edges smoothly, you don’t have to hide thread lines, etc.”
“The biggest problem for any service provider right now is sourcing materials. This is because of the supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.”
“I typically get stuff from Ross Coated Fabrics (Hamtramck), Sailrite (Indiana), Rochford Supply (Minnesota) and elsewhere.”
“Every job we do is completely different. There’s no one size fits all, cookie-cutter approach. My personal favorite stuff is the custom work.”
“For instance, I just finished a custom-made swim deck for a Fountain 42 Lightning, and it was a lot of fun.”
“We have a fairly quick turn-around time. To re-do a bimini might take 5-7 days. Doing an interior salon couch for a 42 Cruiser can take around two weeks. Typical interiors take 2-3 weeks. Seat repairs maybe 2-4 days.”
Hot Tips, Advice, Tricks of the Trade, and More
“Marine canvas is an important investment in your boat. A proper and high-quality canvas saves it from rotting and deteriorating. Plus, you want something that looks good aesthetically.”
“Some of the most common problems we see are age-related wear and tear. Also, canvases shrink after 5-10 years of use. And it’s amazing how damaging the sun can be.”
“In terms of giving some general advice: At the beginning of every boating season, bring your boat to a canvas shop for a professional cleaning and to re-waterproof it. We’ve found this seems to greatly extend the lifespan of canvas tops, especially after they’re 5+ years old. In the biz it’s called re-conditioning.”
“You can clean and condition your upholstery with 303 Fabric Guard. The 303 product line comes all the way from Australia.”
“The main type of fabric we use is Sunbrella. We use Sunbrella SeaMark for bimini’s. It’s a thick, waterproof, vinyl-coated acrylic. We also use Stamoid, which is a highly UV-resistant vinyl-coated polyester. Stamoid is the most popular vinyl fabric used on superyachts.”
“Over the years, we’ve seen that bright fabric colors like red, yellow, orange tend to look good for the first year or so, nice and crisp and bright and then….they fade hard and fast.”
“In terms of clear vinyl windows, Strataglass is top of the line. I’m actually waiting on five sheets of it right now, as we speak. Strataglass is a clear, pressed vinyl with anti-scratch coating. Eisenglass is an old slang term for any sort of pressed acrylic vinyl windows.”
“Some top-grade marine vinyl for upholstery is Sunbrella Horizon. At around $50/yard it can be pricey, and you might need 10 yards or so. It’s not cheap but it is definitely high-quality.”
“Not many people know this but oftentimes most upholstery for Sea Ray’s is all custom, which means it’s very difficult for us to say, match a cushion exactly.”
“And here’s a trick of the trade: sunscreen can sometimes take pen marks out of marine vinyl. A lot of people don’t know that or wouldn’t believe it but it’s true.”
“As for zippers, we see more metal than plastic ones up here in Michigan. Down in Florida, you’ll see a lot of plastic because plastic is less corrosive in saltwater. Up here we have metal zipper pulls. And on most boats in general, the canvas snaps are made of nickel-plated brass.”
“And yes, we do occasionally see microbial pinking. It’s typically on pontoons, typically on white vinyl, the boats are typically 5-7+ years old. And no, sorry to say it does not come out.”
Looking toward the Future
“In the future, as we grow, we would ideally like to have 4-8 full-time employees.”
“All custom work is extremely difficult. I actually love doing custom work it’s just not easy.”
“My single favorite job is to re-do a full enclosure because it’s challenging and if done right, it looks awesome and will impress your guests.”
And REMEMBER folks:
20% tip is not necessary but certainly appreciated if you approve of the great work LegaSea Canvas did on your vessel. Be sure to help out this great local business.
Call LegaSea for a free quote on your boat today!
LegaSea Canvas & Upholstery
34100 Kelly Road
Clinton Township, MI 48035