In the 1950s Bernie Carter spent time “dabbling” with replacing automobile tops and seat covers for friends and family. Now, more than 60 years later, the upholstery business born from his early efforts is still thriving in Central New York.
Bernie, who grew up in Alabama, met his wife, Marianne, a native of Czechoslovakia, in the service, started his family here and made Nedrow home to his business.
Carter Upholstery, located in Nedrow since the 1960s, is all in the family for Cathy Carter-Damiano, who took over its operation, along with her late husband, Andrew, upon her father’s retirement 20 years ago.
“I helped with the business growing up,” Cathy said. “I did it as a kid. My favorite thing was working with the customers.”
It is that experience that has helped her in her many roles at Carter Upholstery, from managing and scheduling appointments to organizing sales, setup and delivery.
“I think what is most important is that we connect so well with the customers and are able to relate to them,” Cathy said. “They tell us what they need and we are able to fulfill that need. We strip the furniture down to the frame and retie the springs [and] check for loose joints, making repairs if necessary. Then we start rebuilding the piece to look like new adding padding where needed or changing completely. We also replace foam cushions and do throw pillows. It’s always a pleasure to take someone’s family heirlooms and bring them back to life. We have reupholstered almost anything that you could imagine.”
Carter Upholstery services all residential upholstery from sofas and chairs to window seats and headboards. They are able to do custom work with thousands of fabrics available in books at the shop, and can do upholstery with fabric brought in by the client as well.
“We like to use as many American-made products as possible,” Cathy said. “We also offer a lot of fabrics made in America. I love to work with a lot of different fabrics, and we work with a lot of designers as well.”
In addition, the company can do upholstery work on boats and motorhomes, though it has moved away from automobile tops.
“We also do commercial upholstery,” Cathy said. From doctors and dentists offices, including exam and medical tables, to hospitals and colleges, “we can do upholstery anywhere there is seating.”
The company employs eight full or part-time employees, “some who have been here for more than 30 years,” she said. “We have a lot of experience here.”
Cathy is busy out of the shop as well, a big SU fan, she also takes part in riding and showing quarter horses.
“I have a small hobby farm and boarding facility in Baldwinsville,” Cathy said. “Yes, I am busy, but I love it.”
Her children helped out in the shop when they were growing up and, though they have taken different career paths, learned a lot when they worked there.
“They learned about the business and gained organizational skills that help them in their current jobs,” Cathy said. “It helped them in many ways when they started out in their careers.”
Carter Upholstery is located at 6707 South Salina St. in Nedrow. They can be reached at 469-0202 or carteruph @cnymail.com. Visit carterupholstery.com for more information.