84-Year-Old Upholsterer is Still in Demand
I've always admired people who can repair things with their hands. My admiration is even greater when a person is still repairing things long after they've reached retirement age. I visited Ron Morgan at his upholstery shop located inside his house in Wesleyville. Ron has been giving new life to couches and chairs since he was 16 years old. He's now 84.
"I'm going to be doing it as long as I can,” says Ron. “I just want to do it. I want to keep busy. I think it keeps me alive.”
Ron quit school when he was 16, shortly after he mother passed away. He applied for a job in an upholstery shop in Wesleyville. Ron remembers the conversation he had with his future boss.
"He says, 'I'll know in the first week whether you can be an upholsterer or not.’ Whether I could properly spit tacks and use a hammer. That's what he meant,” says Ron with a laugh.
Not everyone would want to take used furniture apart and carefully make it nice again. Ron says it takes him one week to tear down, rebuild, and cover a couch. It takes him a week to do two chairs. He just loves making something nice again. His customers love him. He is not lacking in business.
"They've seen my work. They figure they'll travel to bring it,” says Ron. “They come from Buffalo. They come from Cleveland. They come from Pittsburgh. Snowbirds always support me too."
After talking with Ron, I'm suddenly curious. What does an upholsterer's house look like inside? Ron and his wife Connie gave me a tour. Their furniture is all antique and it's beautiful. They have an old fainting couch that's been restored to its old glory. And how about this? There's no paint, wallpaper, or paneling on their walls. The walls are all covered with fabric. It's all been done by Ron who says he's never going to retire.
"I can't stand sitting and doing nothing. I've got to be doing something,” he says.
Ron's business is called Autumn and Morgan Upholstering. Autumn was the name of his business partner for 35 years. She did all the sewing until she died in 1995. Ron says most of his current business is generated by word of mouth. Business is good despite the fact that he only advertises in the phone book.