AP NEWS

They know awnings

November 17, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — When it comes to custom canvas and aluminum awnings, Horizon Awning, 2227 U.S. 12, has it covered.

Owner Marsha Markle explained that the business she and her brother, Dennis Gardner, began in 1981 didn’t start off with awnings, however.

“We started selling wood stoves back in the ’80s when they were very popular,” she said.

But, it wasn’t too long before the siblings began looking for an alternative business for the off-season. Realizing that Michigan City lacked an awning business, they decided to fill that niche.

“That pretty much took over the operation,” said Markle. Around about 1988, the business began to focus exclusively on awnings, and in 1999 Markle became the sole owner of the business. Horizon Awning currently employs five, in addition to Markle.

As explained at www.horizon-awning.com, Markle bases her locally owned and operated small business on the “simple business philosophy” of: “We choose to sell high quality products which will give our customers years of service. We never charge for estimates. We are not high-pressure. We cheerfully offer any after-sale support you need. You will also appreciate our friendly, helpful employees. We want you to have a great experience when you work with Horizon Awning.”

Markle said the company’s business is about equally split between residential and commercial customers in Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan.

Why consider an awning for your home or business?

“They keep sun out of windows and rain off your head when you’re trying to open your door,” she said. “If a deck is too hot, then an awning is helpful.”

Among homeowners, vertical shades for screened porches, pergolas and more are also popular choices among homeowners.

“We offer a weather-resistant vertical shade so you can keep patio furniture on your porch in the winter and keep snow off of it. They are attractive on your home too. They make your home look a little different than everyone else’s,” said Markle.

Markle said one recent trend she’s seen in the industry is an increase in motorized shades.

“You can operate these with smartphone apps too,” she said.

With the advanced technology available today, she said it’s possible for shades to be programmed to close when the sun is the brightest or when too much motion that could cause damage is detected.

For residential customers, Markle said, “We do a lot of neutral colors, especially tans and beiges and black – nothing too flashy. We still sell more stripes than solids for residential. We have hundreds of patterns you can choose from.”

On the other hand, black seems to be the current overwhelmingly favorite on the commercial end; this replaced the popular dark green, she said.

“The woven acrylic fabrics that they have now are very long-lasting,” continued Markle. “Most of them have a 10-year warranty and they last longer than that. They are fade-resistant. The yarns are dyed so the colors go all the way through. Vinyl fabrics, more for commercial use, are also very fade resistant.”

She pointed out the difference that an attractive awning can make on a business’ building.

“One of the most amazing examples we’ve completed recently is Coachman Antique Mall in La Porte,” Markle said. “We put those awnings up there and it just pops. Awnings makes your business stand out from everyone else’s.”

She said that graphics, business information and more can be added to the awnings for even more visibility.

Markle said everything they do is custom-made, so it takes about four to five weeks for awnings to be available.

“One thing about buildings is that they aren’t standard,” she said. “The awnings are custom-cut so they will fit the building they are going on.

Horizon Awning also offers awning fabrics for customers’ original frames. They provide installation and take-down services as well as winter storage for their customers, and can handle many on-site repairs such as patching, roping and installation of new hardware. The business also offer boat canvas repair services.

Horizon Awning is a member of the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association and the Midwest Fabric Products Association.

Markle said she is happy with her business’ location on U.S. 12 because it’s “visible to summer people that use our services a lot. We do a lot of business with the part-time crowd.”

She spent a lot of her childhood in Chesterton, and moved to Michigan City in the early ’90s.

“I’m very happy to see so much going on here. I think it’s going in a positive direction. There are a lot of things to do here. You really don’t have to go anywhere to entertain yourself,” she said.

Markle is a member of the Footlight Players Theatre and her business supports this organization as well as the Mainstreet Theatre (Festival Players Guild).

The hours for Horizon Awning are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; evening and Saturday hours are available by appointment only. For more information about Horizon Awning, go to www.horizon-awning,com, call (219) 872-2329 or (800) 513-2940 or look up “Horizon Awning” on Facebook.

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