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News / Business / Clark County Business

Working in Clark County: Tyler Hammack, operations manager, Tough Top Awnings

By Kay Richardson, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 28, 2016, 6:08am
2 Photos
Tyler Hammack is the operations manager at Tough Top Awnings in Vancouver, which manufactures awnings for RVs.
Tyler Hammack is the operations manager at Tough Top Awnings in Vancouver, which manufactures awnings for RVs. (Natalie Behring/ The Columbian) Photo Gallery

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, RV sales will continue to benefit from baby boomers entering retirement. That rings true to what Tyler Hammack, operations manager of Tough Top Awnings, sees at his business. “Last year we broke a record — 4,000 awnings. We’ve been seeing a 30 to 40 percent increase each year.”

Hammack’s customers come to Tough Top Awnings when their factory-made awning has given out or is damaged or worn, usually after four to five years of use. “We have giant racks with material we cut to size, we sew it, apply the beading (the component that fixes the awning to the RV), and help the customer attach it to the RV,” he says. “We supply a material that lasts much longer.”

Name: Tyler Hammack.

Residence neighborhood: East Vancouver.

Employer/business name: Tough Top Awnings, 12401 N.E. 60th Way, Vancouver. 360-980-0537, on Facebook and at http://toughtopawnings.com

Age: 38.

How — and when — you got started in your business: The founder of the company was my father-in-law, Ray Oberreuter. After being laid off from a company where he worked for 20 years, he decided to get into RV repair. In 2006 he was working as a mobile RV repair technician on the road “following the good weather” when he noticed a big problem with the RV awning fabric industry. Customers were paying high prices for inferior fabrics and paying high prices for installation. So he started Tough Top Awnings in a storage garage, offering direct supply and installation. When he retired three years ago, he handed over the reins to his children. I oversee the manufacturing operations and help customers with technical problems. My wife, Ray’s daughter Christie, runs Internet sales and human resources. Her brother, Rick, in Boulder, Colo., is the company’s webmaster.

Personal/business philosophy: Customer service first! We treat everyone better than they can expect. Make a better product and have support from our customers and everything will take care of itself.

Most rewarding part of job: Being an educational resource so people can save money. People see RVs and they assume the owners have deep pockets. This isn’t true. A majority of RV’ers have fixed incomes. Also, we’re proud of being able to offer our remaining scrap fabrics to community members and organizations like the Boy Scouts, Habitat for Humanity and local schools. We contact groups like the Pacific Crest Trail Association who use our material for erosion control. This also ensures that we keep our waste out of local landfills.

Most challenging part of job: Not being able to help everyone. People will just buy a replacement fabric based on low price without doing thorough research. But we’re a direct importer of our fabrics. We know they’re high quality and made ethically.

Something surprising about your work: We supply a lot of fabrics overseas. Europeans and Asians have large motor homes, too. We just hired our first Swedish installer!

Best feature of your Clark County community: Definitely the people. Finding a great staff was easy and knowing that as we grow as a community, we will be part of making Clark County a “best place to be” for the next generation.

What would make your community a better place? If every member of our community would think and act for a greener and cleaner Clark County.

What is your favorite travel destination and type: We spend a lot of time traveling and visiting the Oregon Coast. Either camping or RV trips or visiting family, we do it all. We enjoy digging clams in Long Beach and crabbing in the Newport Bay.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Linda’s Home Plate in Vancouver. Besides being a close walk from our shop for breakfast, lunch and meetings, they are very welcoming and the food is fantastic.

Hobbies: The outdoors, traveling and seeing America, biking and hiking and fishing.

Most enjoyable book/play/movie/arts event in past 12 months: We enjoy seeing superhero movies with our two kids that we hope will take over the company when they get older. Also, we enjoy visiting Seattle for Seahawks games.

Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: Take our entire staff to Hawaii for a weeklong vacation to celebrate our growth and success.

One word to describe yourself: Loyal.

Person you’d most like to meet: Russell Wilson. GO HAWKS!

Columbian staff writer