SUNRISE AWNINGS in Westown now offers full canvas services with the introduction of a sewing shop in the previous showroom area of the store. Shown on Monday, Aug. 23 are (from left) Rod Cates, former owner of J&R Auto and Marine Upholstery, with Jamie Rounds, employee, and Sunrise Awnings owner, James Crapo.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


   Sunrise Awnings, offering customizable awnings and related products, is located on W. Main Street in Owosso. Owner James Crapo, who purchased the building to house his business eight years ago, is pleased to announce he has joined with Rod Cates, former owner of J&R Auto and Marine Upholstery in Chesaning. Cates will now be offering his upholstery expertise through the new sewing shop at Sunrise Awnings.

   The upholstery/sewing services will include automotive and boat upholstery “and pretty much anything people bring in,” shared Crapo. He offered that they were even recently able to refinish a cat scratching post for a client, also explaining that reupholstering furniture is not going to be offered due to space and expense.

   Cates further explained that most people don’t bother to reupholster contemporary furniture because of cheaper methods of furniture construction.

   Cates will be at Sunrise Awnings fulltime. He explained he is happy not to have the stress related to owning a business any longer – and the drive from Chesaning is just 15 minutes for him – something he doesn’t mind.

   “Rod is so good at what he does,” explained Crapo. “I’ve pretty much been working here by myself for eight years. It’s always just been me up until last March.” Crapo now has Cates to work with and also his own daughter, Jamie Rounds. Another part-time person will be on hand to help Cates. Crapo purchased much of the sewing equipment from Cates. The two make a strong, working, business team.

   Prior, Crapo would sometimes subcontract work out to other area businesses, but having Cates on board offers much more in-house business potential.

   Sacrificing some of the floor space for the sewing shop in his Westown store only made sense to Crapo. He originally launched his company from his home, now having 20 years experience in the industry. He shared he had moved his family to Owosso in 1993, deciding he wanted to raise his children in a city where they could attend a single school district. He had moved around a lot growing up and had prioritized having his children raised within a community like Owosso. He feels very invested in the area – and extremely positive about the major expansion to his business.

   With the recent purchase of a specialized fabric-welding machine, canvas seams are literally melded together at specific junctures, creating a far stronger seam than offered through traditional commercial thread. The welded seams make for a much more durable product, factoring in weather and time. The large fabric-welding machine cost over $30,000. However the seams it manufactures appear, well, almost seamless.

   Highlighting some of the other products currently being worked on in the store that Monday, Crapo pointed out a seat for a mid-1950s Chevy truck. Cates was working on the seat at that time. “I keep learning new things, too,” he said. “I just found out how you buy leather. It’s the whole hide,” he explained. The Chevy truck seat was to be reupholstered in black leather. “I found out that the average cow hide is 47-square-feet.”

   Crapo also showed an orange and green camouflage product that had been created for a vintage semi-truck, per the request of a client.

   The Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce helped celebrate the Sunrise Awnings expansion with a ribbon-cutting event on Thursday, Aug. 19. Crapo said he was happy that so many chamber ambassadors and representatives were on hand for the celebration.

   Sunrise Awnings is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information can be found at or Facebook.

Sunrise Awnings Expands to Include Sewing Shop was last modified: August 31st, 2021 by Karen Elford