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Canyon Gear's Featured


A Soul of a Spring Flower...With Courage of Steel
The Story of Steel Magnolia
  Steel Magnolia  

I’m not the sort of person who finds himself at a loss for words and I rarely have a problem mustering up something poignant to say. So when we decided to spotlight a “Featured Crew Of The Month” on the Canyon Gear website, as well as our blog,  I thought it would be easy—write about the boat, the crew, find something that makes them unique. No problem, right? But with so many fascinating customers, I was having a hard time coming up with an appropriate inaugural choice...until I turned the page on my calendar to the month of April. April represents a “rebirth” of sorts. Winter ends, and Spring begins. Trees and flowers come alive again. Our boats get unwrapped and recommissioned. Life rejuvenates all around us.

48 Viking

It all started with a catalog request from a woman with a 48’ Viking Convertible dubbed the Steel Magnolia. She wanted custom designed shirts and she needed them quickly. She went on to tell us that she had company arriving at their home in Key Largo with a week, and the new “duds” had to be there in time for the event. Truth be told, we tend to work best around here under pressure and the pressure was on, especially if we were going to create something truly spectacular.


Steel Magnolia

Designing artwork for tournament boat clothing is a cerebral process deep inside the creative department at Canyon Gear. Every boat, owner and team has a story, and it’s up to us to try and coax the story out of them, so that we can express it in a design that is not only representative, but captivating. Good photos are important, but without a story to embrace, the design process lacks feeling and emotion, the two key components that define who we are, how we work, and the kind of apparel we produce.


There was something special about Steel Magnolia, I could tell just from the name. I already knew the boat got around the circuit pretty well and the crew took their fishing seriously, but there was something more. I was sure that something very meaningful was hidden in the transom photo they sent me.

The Crew of Steel Magnolia

Through early communications it became obvious that this job wasn’t just a “guy” thing . It was immediately apparent that the woman we were working with was confident and knowledgeable, yet gentle and quick to express her appreciation for our efforts. She was acutely aware that we were working under a tight deadline and she thanked us repeatedly for fitting her into our schedule. She was the coordinator of the boat shirt project and while she made it a point to include her family in the development process, there was no mistaking that she was in charge. This was all taking place before I knew the real story behind the boat, which turned out to be her story, but I remember telling my staff how much “I liked her”. There was an irony to this... because I really didn't know her yet.


About to Release a Dolphin

The dictionary defines “steel” as strong, durable, and unflinching in character and a “magnolia” as a tree typically associated with the southern state that blooms with beautiful flowers of white, pink, purple, or yellow. Hence the term “Steel Magnolia” which is frequently used to describe a certain type of southern woman— one who is strong, independent, assertive and extremely protective of her family; yet soft, charmingly feminine and always ready with encouragement and a kind word. A “Steel Magnolia” is the glue that bonds her family together, always ready to put their needs ahead of her own.  She is the foundation on which her family rests, yet the term is usually associated with a woman who has overcome some great hardship. I was privileged to have her share hers with me.


Pam Roberts, the Steel Magnolia

The Steel Magnolia’s co-owner is Pam Roberts and she is that incredible woman. Many years ago she was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease, the doctors told her, and the best she could hope for was to try and slow its progression. Her sons, Madison and Austin, were three and seven at the time. With that bleak prognosis she flew to Denver to endure complicated lung surgery, followed by a lengthy treatment regimen. There were no guarantees here. But Pam never gave the word “incurable” a second thought. She's not the type of woman to dwell on it, and her tenacious nature and unbreakable faith don't allow it. She knew then, as she knows now, how much her children and husband need her. She resolved to be there for them. As a direct result of her strong maternal instincts and her “steel” will, she presses on... inch by inch, day by day. Early on, her doctor back in Denver started referring to her as his “Steel Magnolia”. To date, she has survived the disease for 18 years longer than any other patient diagnosed with the same affliction. Pam Roberts is the fighter who does not quit, the warrior who will not surrender. Courageously, she presses on. And how did the boat come about? After her return from Denver, she and her family discovered the beneficial effects of salt air on her condition... so they went to Viking Yachts and the first Steel Magnolia was built.

Madison Roberts

The latest Steel Magnolia is captained by her son, Captain Madison Roberts, whose passion for fishing became evident at a very young age. Therefore it was a given that Steel Magnolia had to be a serious fishing machine. You'll find this boat on the tournament circuit throughout the Florida Keys and beyond. Along with Captain Roberts, Pam's Tournament Team includes her other son Austin, her husband Pat, along with Greg Graham, Mike Green, and Alex Gittings.
Pam refers to them as “Her Men of Steel”.


Steel Magnolia Custom Boat Shirt Design

With the backdrop of the true story behind Steel Magnolia... actually the story of this incredible lady, it turned out that our Canyon Gear design team followed our intuition perfectly. Our initial thought was to create an elegant, but “airy” look for the design to emblazon their onboard clothing. We wanted the representation of the boat to be moving in a quartering bow profile, dancing over the water like the throttles are pinned. The inclusion of both a blue marlin and sailfish were a given because those are the species the Steel Magnolia passionately pursues. With the horizon in the background, the final design came alive, and with a few edits at the suggestion of Pam and her “men of steel”, the crew received some very slick new “duds” in time for the arrival of their guests in Key Largo.


From all of us in the Canyon Gear family we send out our heartfelt thanks to Pam, Pat, Madison and Austin for allowing us to become part of their family in a very special way and to be inspired by their story. The Steel Magnolia art we developed as a team exemplifies beauty, strength, a love of the ocean and its finny creatures, but most importantly, family. The Steel Magnolia is truly a breath of life-giving salt air!


Steel Magnolia's Boat Shirts


Here's to you and your crew!

All the best,

Ken, President of Canyon Gear International

Ken, President/CEO

Canyon Gear International


If you'd like to see how the crew at Canyon Gear can help YOU “wear your passion”, fill out the form below!


What can we create for you?

Products Considering:
T-Shirts Sweatshirts Jackets
Napkins Embroidered Shirts Polos
Coozies Hats & Visors Cups


Crew of the Month Entries


May 2012 - Genuine Risk

April 2012 - Steel Magnolia