- >Upholstery Diamonds August 2022
Corbin Boland of Florida Boy Customs LLC (High Springs, FL)
What does being an upholsterer mean to you?
What I love about upholstery, and what I have told any apprentice I have had, is that it is a skill that no one can ever take from you. No matter if you did not want to work at my shop any more or not. No matter the economy, or business, you can always have work and provide for your family.
I love that there are just so many things you can do with upholstery, so many niches. We do a lot of show truck interiors. If they all stopped tomorrow, then it would be okay because we can take our skills and transfer them to another niche of upholstery. Whether that be contract, awnings, restaurants, clothing, bags, or boats. There are so many ways that you can provide for your family and make a living with upholstery.
How did you get started in upholstery?
I got started when I was unemployed and needed a job. I went to school to be an auto technician at Universal Technical Institute in Orlando, FL right out of high school. I worked in a few shops after that for about a year. I got into a little trouble and the dealership I was working at was full of empty promises. So, I decided I wanted a scenery change. I was basically ready to move out to Montana with my uncle and his family until the day I found Jesus. Two weeks later, I met the woman who would become my wife.
Since I was staying here in Florida, I decided to go to business school to help me own my own business because that was my ultimate dream. Over that year, I coached my old high school lacrosse team, worked as an electrician, and blew out my ACL. After my physical therapy was done, I needed a job. I found an ad on Craigslist for a local trim shop and got the job.
I had replaced my headliners and what not when I was around 16, but this was my first real experience getting into upholstery. We did a lot of headliners, used car repair work, and leather kits. I did everything but sew. I touched the sewing machine once and was terrible! After a year of working there, I felt I was not using the money I spent on school. So, I went back to being an auto tech at a local Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealership for the next 6 years. While I was doing that, I did headliners on the side. Then I started doing leather kits. Then I got my dealership to pay for my LLC because I was doing their used cars headliners.
After we had our second child, we decided that my wife was going to quit her job and stay at home, but the dealership politics started getting to be too much. I had just gotten a nice raise and was almost master certified, but heard God call me to start an upholstery shop. I bought an industrial non-walking foot Singer from the upholstery shop I used to work for, found a warehouse close to my house and started a shop. That's when I learned quickly how to sew and when I truly started upholstery.
What types of upholstery do you do?
We do mostly newer lifted show trucks, but that is not to say we don't do anything else. We are getting back into boats after I stopped doing them for about 3 years. I have done restaurant seating, dental offices, bar stools, for the most part everything except clothing and furniture. I have done some antique furniture before but only for my wife!
How long have you been upholstering?
Really and truly only about 6 years, but if you count the time I would in a trim shop, you could say 12!
What is your biggest consumer demand?
Since we do a lot of lifted trucks everyone wants a starlight headliner.
What is your favorite upholstery project you've done?
I don't know if I really have a favorite. They are all different and unique in their own way. To be honest, I am so critical of my own work that I don't normally like any of them. I focus on imperfections that only I see, but that is something I am working on getting better at.
What is the strangest item you've found in a restoration?
Someone was using urinal cakes as an air freshener…
Have you noticed any up and coming trends?
Computers. From CNC stitch panels to CNC and 3D printers for consoles and door panels!
What changes would benefit the upholstery industry?
I think we just need more outlets to learn. There are not really any schools for learning custom upholstery or upholstery in general. I think what Cato and Justin at JS Custom Interiors are doing with their classes are awesome and a huge help. Mobile Solutions has also been amazing for years now with all their fab classes.
Have you ever been featured on television, online, or in another publication?
I have been in Street Trucks Magazine a few times for some of the work that I have done.
Do you have a shop animal?
We have a French Bulldog named Mingo (short for flamingo) that comes and hangs out sometimes!
Some answers have been edited for clarity.
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