After 50 years in business, West Jordan man hopes this dying trade stays alive

Kimiko G. Judith

Ken Curtis of KenTeck Tailor made Upholstery utilizes a pair of big scissors to trim some of the material away as he functions on a chair in his West Jordan shop on Friday. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

WEST JORDAN — His name may well not be common to you, but if you are living in Utah, you’ve very likely sat in a restaurant booth designed by Ken Curtis.

The West Jordan person begun sewing at age 9 with the assistance of his aunt, who owned a Midvale cleaning and altering business. Collectively, they created and marketed automobile litter baggage, which employed to cling from knobs in more mature automobiles. They saved the funds for her to obtain a exclusive sewing device.

“She would choose on nieces and nephews and train them how to deal with income, how to offer with clientele, how to rely modify — which is a further detail people can’t do now,” Curtis stated.

He immediately uncovered a knack for upholstering home furnishings and car interiors, and begun taking on careers for family and good friends. By age 18, he’d acquired enough funds to acquire his aunt’s sewing machine from her before she passed absent thanks to most cancers numerous yrs back.

“When she died, I just took that in excess of and retained likely,” Curtis mentioned as he stood within KenTeck Personalized Upholstery, his shop which is brimming with fabrics, gear, items of home furnishings and materials like cushion filling.

Now, Curtis has completed upholstery for additional than 50 many years and he fears his company — like other expert trades — is rapidly becoming a detail of the previous. That is evidenced by the superior demand from customers on his time.

Only about 20 upholstery shops remain open along the Wasatch Front, Curtis famous.

He’s now booked out via the stop of the calendar year with business jobs. He says he’s at present reupholstering the Twilight Lounge in Salt Lake City. He is done all of the upholstery for booths at region Cafe Zupas, Zao Asian Cafes, Crown Burgers, Astro Burgers and other dining establishments throughout the Wasatch Entrance. Via a contract with Cafe Rio, he ships booths for all of its new shops throughout the state.

“And then, I just acquired the deal to do Burger Kings, all the Burger Kings from Fillmore to Logan — 207 stores,” Curtis said.

When questioned no matter whether he thinks incoming personnel could continue to keep the trade alive, he says: “I don’t assume they are likely to, I really never.”

Granger Significant University in West Valley City used to educate upholstery, but now Curtis thinks the ability is no longer taught at any educational institutions in the spot.

“And I know that people do not want to do perform like this because it normally takes labor, it normally takes time to find out, and it normally takes time to be good. And it also, I guess it also has to have an inherent ability, the place if you do not have that (obsessive-compulsive dysfunction) that it necessitates, you need to have to make each work search fantastic,” Curtis stated.

He is continued performing regardless of four damaged vertebra and “a lot more damaged bones than I can even explain to you.”

With the scarcity of experienced upholsterers, Curtis said he can name his price for a task and from time to time gets compensated up to $700 for each hour “just for the reason that of the pace and skill.” When he started off in the company, he said he made $65 per lawn of cloth. Now, he would make among $145 and $225 for every lawn — and shoppers are ready to hold out for positions to be completed for the reason that of the scarcity.

Curtis says he would inspire any individual who could probably have the talent for it to search into upholstery as a job. Several outlets in the space would seek the services of new staff on the spot, he observed.

He taught the ability to hundreds of inmates at the Utah Point out Jail for 13 many years.

“And a person detail I have found is a great deal of men and women just will not have that OCD and inherent skill it normally takes to do it, consideration to depth. It involves all of that,” he mentioned, introducing that he’d love to carry another person into his business enterprise who could study the talent.

Curtis has no designs to retire, and states, “I’m just gonna hold going right up until I are not able to.” He would, nevertheless, like to have time to do the job on his passion, which is stitching leather-based vests, luggage, pants and other issues to promote at Mountain Gentleman rendezvous.

“Make sure you, any person, appear consider in excess of. It really is a very little overwhelming simply because I have developed the track record and it truly is tricky to tell people today: ‘No, I cannot do that.’ My wife claims, ‘You’re heading to start off scheduling it out even further,’ so she went via my calendar and pushed every person back again a pair months, since 2 o’clock in the morning she’s coming out declaring, ‘Are you coming to bed sometime?'”

When requested what is stored him in the company for so extensive, the 61-calendar year-aged quips: “It is really like a line from ‘Blind Side.’ I’m fantastic at it. … I necessarily mean, I do appreciate undertaking it since I can look at a task immediately after I get completed and say, ‘Yeah, I developed that.'”


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