Business Beat: Upholstry business approaches 40 years

May 08, 2007 11:00 pm

Jim and Pat Sharp run an upholstery business called Sharp Upholstry at 201 Fresno St., that Jim has owned for 39 years.

Over the years, demand has changed from custom cars to antique furniture, but the skills and knowledge required remain the same.

Q: What do you do and how long have you been doing it?

Jim: I've been doing upholstery for 44 years. We reupholster furniture, cars, boats, airplanes and anything else that has upholstery on it. We also make custom car seats from scratch, do door panels, headliners and the full interior of cars.

Pat: We can do diamond tufted or channel padded upholstery from the bare frame of chairs and sofas. We've done a lot of repeat furniture.

Jim: We're doing a couch now that we did 30 years ago.

Pat: Oftentimes it's not that the furniture is worn out. It's just that the popular colors changed.

Q: What inspired you to go into this line of work?

Jim: I had Carl Hornbeck, who owned Carl's Upholstery, do a car for me, and I worked part-time for him for five years.

Q: What training or education did you need?

Jim: Mostly it's just hands-on. You have to pull a lot of staples before you get to put any back.

Q: How has your business changed over the years?

Pat: It hasn't changed.

Jim: Why would it change? We're still doing the same thing.

Pat: They don't have the tuck-and-roll and diamond tufting in the car seats as they did then.

Jim: Now we're more into antique furniture. In the old days we did a lot of custom cars. We still do a lot of boat work. I just did boat seats for a commercial boat. We just did the whole interior at the airport too.

Q: What's the toughest business decision you've ever made?

Jim: Working the two jobs to get here – the sawmill at nights and here during the day.

Q: Who are your competitors?

Jim: We don't have any competition. We're the best.

Pat: I don't think there's anyone else here who is state licensed to do upholstery.

Q: How do you define success for your business?

Jim: Pay your bills and stay in business for 40 years. Raise five kids.

Q: What advice could you offer to budding entrepreneurs?

Pat: The customers have got to be satisfied.

Jim: Stand behind your work. Do it the best way you know how and don't rob your customers. Treat your customers well.

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