Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019 - 27

PERSPECTIVE

by Jill C. Lafferty

PERSONAL

NER
TR
TRAINER
AINE
TRAI
WITH A GROWING BUSINESS AND A DEARTH
OF SKILLED LABOR, KIMBER BUGLASS TRAINS
HIS OWN EMPLOYEES, FOSTERING PROJECT
OWNERSHIP AND PRIDE IN THE JOB.

reat every job as if it's your own job," says Kimber Buglass, owner and
managing director of Charman Motor Trimmers and Upholsterers
Ltd. "I try to tell the team to be proud of whatever you make. You're
putting my name and your name on it. If it's not what you would want
at your home, then don't let it leave the shop. So that's always been our
philosophy. Treat every job as if it's your own."
Charman Motor Trimmers was founded in 1976 in Napier, New Zealand,
as an upholstery and automotive trimming shop. In that same year, a
15-year-old Buglass joined the company as an apprentice. Buglass's mother
had a background in curtain-making and upholstery, and the work struck
him as something that might interest him. Buglass rose in the company to
foreman, then manager, and finally owner with his wife Jocelyn Buglass
upon the death of the company founder in 1997.
"I started my apprenticeship as an auto upholsterer," Buglass says. "We
used to do sheepskin seat covers on buses. It was a big thing back in the
1970s because the tourists liked soft seats, and we grew the business from
there into motorbikes, seat covers and a little bit of canvas work. That was
our first 10 years, and we diversified after that."
Motorcycle seat covers, with logos screened in-house, became a path to
expansion beyond New Zealand, as the company connected with partners in
Australia and the United Kingdom. As the popularity of outdoor living grew,
the company took on more shade sail, outdoor blind and canvas work.
Finally, given the business's location on the coast of New Zealand's
north island, growth in the marine fabrication market was a natural fit.
Today, the company offers everything from full re-trims on cars, to marine
seating and carpeting, to residential and commercial shade products and
other custom work.

PHOTOS BY SARAH HORN PHOTOGRAPHER

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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019

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