After 50 decades in organization, West Jordan male hopes this dying trade stays alive

Ken Curtis of KenTeck Customized Upholstery takes advantage of a pair of substantial scissors to trim some of the cloth absent as he is effective on a chair in his West Jordan shop on Friday. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

WEST JORDAN — His identify might not be acquainted to you, but if you live in Utah, you have probable sat in a restaurant booth produced by Ken Curtis.

The West Jordan guy commenced stitching at age 9 with the enable of his aunt, who owned a Midvale cleaning and altering enterprise. Together, they created and offered vehicle litter baggage, which made use of to hang from knobs in more mature cars. They saved the money for her to obtain a particular stitching equipment.

“She would get on nieces and nephews and instruct them how to offer with cash, how to offer with consumers, how to rely change — which is yet another detail persons can’t do now,” Curtis claimed.

He quickly found out a knack for upholstering household furniture and motor vehicle interiors, and started using on work for spouse and children and buddies. By age 18, he’d attained adequate cash to purchase his aunt’s sewing device from her just before she handed absent thanks to cancer several years in the past.

“When she died, I just took that about and kept heading,” Curtis explained as he stood inside KenTeck Custom Upholstery, his shop which is brimming with fabrics, equipment, pieces of household furniture and products like cushion filling.

Now, Curtis has completed upholstery for more than 50 decades and he fears his business enterprise — like other proficient trades — is rapidly turning out to be a issue of the earlier. That is evidenced by the superior desire on his time.

Only about 20 upholstery retailers stay open together the Wasatch Entrance, Curtis noted.

He is now booked out by way of the stop of the yr with industrial jobs. He says he is at present reupholstering the Twilight Lounge in Salt Lake Metropolis. He is accomplished all of the upholstery for booths at place Cafe Zupas, Zao Asian Cafes, Crown Burgers, Astro Burgers and other places to eat throughout the Wasatch Front. Through a agreement with Cafe Rio, he ships booths for all of its new stores across the state.

“And then, I just obtained the agreement to do Burger Kings, all the Burger Kings from Fillmore to Logan — 207 retailers,” Curtis claimed.

When asked whether he thinks incoming employees could keep the trade alive, he claims: “I will not feel they are heading to, I actually you should not.”

Granger Significant College in West Valley City utilized to instruct upholstery, but now Curtis believes the talent is no lengthier taught at any universities in the spot.

“And I know that individuals do not want to do work like this because it can take labor, it requires time to find out, and it will take time to be fantastic. And it also, I guess it also has to have an inherent ability, exactly where if you never have that (obsessive-compulsive condition) that it calls for, you want to make each and every job glance superior,” Curtis stated.

He is ongoing doing work even with 4 damaged vertebra and “more damaged bones than I can even tell you.”

With the scarcity of expert upholsterers, Curtis stated he can title his value for a job and occasionally will get paid out up to $700 for every hour “just mainly because of the pace and ability.” When he began in the company, he explained he created $65 per lawn of fabric. Now, he would make among $145 and $225 for each yard — and clients are keen to wait for work to be completed simply because of the shortage.

Curtis states he would persuade anybody who could likely have the expertise for it to glimpse into upholstery as a career. Numerous outlets in the area would hire new workers on the location, he famous.

He taught the skill to hundreds of inmates at the Utah Point out Jail for 13 a long time.

“And one particular issue I have learned is a good deal of men and women just don’t have that OCD and inherent talent it requires to do it, consideration to element. It necessitates all of that,” he claimed, adding that he’d appreciate to convey another person into his enterprise who could discover the ability.

Curtis has no programs to retire, and suggests, “I’m just gonna preserve likely right until I are not able to.” He would, however, like to have time to work on his pastime, which is stitching leather vests, bags, trousers and other issues to provide at Mountain Man rendezvous.

“Make sure you, any person, occur just take in excess of. It really is a tiny frustrating since I have developed the name and it really is challenging to tell men and women: ‘No, I can not do that.’ My wife states, ‘You’re going to start scheduling it out even more,’ so she went by way of my calendar and pushed every person back a pair months, due to the fact 2 o’clock in the morning she’s coming out indicating, ‘Are you coming to bed someday?'”

When questioned what is actually stored him in the company for so extended, the 61-12 months-outdated quips: “It is really like a line from ‘Blind Facet.’ I’m good at it. … I mean, I do delight in doing it simply because I can search at a project soon after I get carried out and say, ‘Yeah, I produced that.'”


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