Press of Atlantic City recently published a profile of Custom Auto & Upholstery Center, a Pleasantville, N.J. shop that’s been in the business for decades and maintains a pretty positive outlook on the industry’s state of affairs.
The article is interesting, not just because it allows us to peer into a another trimmer’s shop, but because it provides some interesting insight on how big (or small) our industry really is. For instance — before reading any further — can you guess how many auto trimmers there are in the United States?
Here is a short excerpt from the piece:
“You don’t see many shops like this around,” said Bill Simpkins, 75, who started Custom Auto & Upholstery Center on South New Road in Pleasantville 35 years ago. “We fabricate everything.” […]
Simpkins said few workers specialize in this sort of trade. He picked it up from his father, who ran an auto top and glass shop in Mays Landing.
“It’s a skilled business, it’s very skilled. You don’t find people in this business,” he said.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reaffirms the specialty of the upholstery business. There were about 430 upholsterers in New Jersey in 2012 and fewer than 28,000 in the U.S.
After decades in the business, Simpkins still has a bright outlook on its future. He said the down economy of the past few years had little impact.
“We worked our way through the bad times,” he said. “Of course it’s not as good as the good times. … I see a good future in the business. Cars are never going to go out. You’ll always have automobiles.”
Particularly thanks to truck seats and other upholstery that gets heavy use, there also will be customers.
“We’re busy all the time.” For all the truckers and all your repair guys, carpenters, electricians, maintenance people, I have them in here almost every day,” he said. [more]
We double checked the article’s figure of 28,000 upholsterers nationwide and found it to be incorrect. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2012 Occupational Handbook, the correct number is 46,900 upholsterers. Of them, a mere 5 percent work in the craft of auto trim. That’s just 2,345 trimmers.
To put that in perspective, 2010 figures by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that there are an estimated 242 million cars in the United States. That’s just one auto trimmer for every 103,198 cars.
Other factors aside, I’d say Simpkins’ outlook for the industry is pretty spot on. One doesn’t have to be a mathematician to recognize its enormous potential for growth.