While we’re on the subject of how you learned auto upholstery, let’s all tip our hats to Gary Childress of Auto Top & Trim Shop in Reidsville, North Carolina. After suffering a stroke in August that left him unable to live on his own or drive, Childress has decided to close his 30-year-old shop and move to Shelby to partner with his son, Sandy, in opening Kustom Auto Trim & Tops.
North Carolina’s News & Record writes:
After graduating from Surry Central High School in Dobson, Childress worked at his brother-in-law’s upholstery shop.
Eventually, Childress took a job in Winston-Salem putting vinyl tops on automobiles. He and his employer often came to Reidsville to work.
When Childress suggested they open a shop in Reidsville, they formed a partnership and opened a shop at the corner of Harrison and South Scales streets.
About a year later, Childress’ partner decided that he didn’t like traveling back and forth, and he sold Childress the shop. […]
He does about any kind of interior work on cars, Childress said. His reputation has brought business from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Florida.
Since he has worked on “hundreds of them,” Childress can’t recall one specific car that he really enjoyed working on.
“There’s been too many to remember,” he said. “I just like taking the old ones and making them look good.”
Usually when someone had refurbished a car and needed upholstery, Childress was their choice.
“I am going to miss all the car guys,” Childress said. “Many have become close friends, and we enjoy talking cars.” [more]
Best of luck to both Gary and Sandy Childress in their new endeavor. We wish Gary a speedy recovery and many long years of trimming the cars he loves.
Below are some comments that our readers left about this article on another upholstery forum:
Qwerty27807: This is the tragedy of one-man shops. Decades of work crash and burn if the founder is unable to work, leaving no residual (or very low) value.
Vtool: Reidsville is where my better half is right now. her father has a farm there. hate to see his buisiness close. would have loved to have spoke with him. with his reputation, I would have enjoyed to have seen his work.
Mike: fortunatly for me my brother is my partner, after my stroke my son came to help and talked of learning the buisness but he just didnt want to take the time to learn.
kodydog: Mike its funny how people think they can learn the trade in just six months.
It took me two years to learn all the different styles when working in a factory. And that didn’t include spring-up, sewing or cutting and stuffing foam. And no way did I learn how to run a business.
Its funny how people think this is a good trade for high school dropouts to get into. I have a fellow who helps me around the shop doing odd jobs. Dropped out after the 9th grade. I would love to train him to do the work but I don’t have time to teach him all the things he should have learned in high school.
Edward Munday says
Retired… Today A Trimmer Needs More Education Than Ever, Ive Been Out Of The Bussiness Going On 15 Years. Our Shop Was Sold When My Dad Died Suddenly Of Lung Cancer. All A Long I Thought I Knew Everything About Upholstery Too. Learning From About 4 Different Trimmers. A College Education Would Have Been Nice Especially About Finace And Economics. Business Is Bussines People Learn All You Can About How One Should Be Ran.