Gunners Garage

Stitches in Time

My friends Dennis and Kathy Bickford, who operate Vintage Woodworks here in Iola, are a rarity. They do automobile upholstery work and they do an excellent job. But, there aren’t many other people who practice the art of “Auto Trimming” today. Of all the restoration shops I’ve visited around the country, only a few offer in-house trimming departments.

Bob Gassaway at Hibernia, in New Jersey, had a first-class trimmer in his employ the last time I visited. Alan Taylor, in Escondido, California, grew up in the industry. His father was a trimmer for a Cadillac agency in the old days and Alan learned the skills. Bob Lorkowski, at L’Cars in Cameron, Wisconsin, also has a in-house trimmer. There’s other I’m sure, but it’s rare.

Nat Danas, who started Auto Trim & Restyling News (a trade magazine for trimmers) is constantly talking about the shortage of upholsterers and convertible top installers we have today. Greg Basich, the current editor of the magazine, is always looking for good articles on these topics. When reading Greg’s publication, it’s common to see advertisements for shops needing trimmers and Wyo-Tech, the automotive school with branches in Wyoming and Pennsylvania, is constantly advertising to hire people who can teach auto trimming.

If you have dreamed about going into the old-car business or if you have children who are interested in working on cars, you’d be wise to investigate the auto trim industry. It is a niche with a lot of jobs to be filled and few people to fill them. It seems like few modern craftspeople know how to make “stitches in time.”

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