"In and out of the shop, I think that's our best tool - attention or attentiveness. It must be a good one, because we have really great connections with people. It is hard to call them 'customers' or 'clients' - we just know them as 'Charlie' or 'Mrs. D.' Beyond the work or the project, it lends a sense of humanity to the situation, and that is very enriching."
Jim Conklin, 2009. (when asked, "If lost, what tool would you miss the most?")
That was an unexpected answer at the time. I put it here because it captures how we do things around here. Not what we do - like use spray guns and sewing machines, etc. The cool part about what we do (refinish and upholster) is that we can use our skills and tools to do satisfying things for people we come to know - that's the point.
I started doing this to feel that what I did provided a lasting value based on honest, personable interaction. It also sat on top of a sense of heritage. My grandfather was a furniture maker and a teacher of cabinet making at Girard College. I have the pleasure of using some of his tools. My father apprenticed under him, but WW II altered that direction - although he kept a workshop as a hobby. When I was looking for an alternative to a consuming suit-and-tie occupation so I could be an active presence for my son as he grew up, it was the hours I spent with my father and grandfather in the workshop that steered my choice.
Those impulses - value, attention, satisfaction - are the living part of what we do. Sure, we have procedures, techniques and systems - that's what we do in order to do it well. The overall focus is on the quality of the experience of working with us: one that is easy to transact, well executed, and with affordable value - in short, one you'll feel good about...and us, too.