Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019 - 29

up with an idea, or they've seen a drawing
or something, then we take that concept
and discuss it with them, show them the
materials, make a plan, cut it out, make it
and give the article back to them. You can
buy some of the things we make off the
shelf, but [the off-the-shelf products] are
mass-produced and not made to last. The
majority of our customers understand that
we can make most things within reason."

Snapshot
HISTORIC SEATING
While some of the products
fabricated by Charman Motor
Trimmers end up on the other

SMOOTH OPERATION
When it comes to new equipment and technology, Buglass determines whether it will
fit into the shop's workflow, or if it makes
more sense to outsource a particular task.
But he finds that once he's invested in a new
piece of equipment, the factory tends to find
jobs for it. That's where he sees the value in
trade organizations-both the exposure to
new technology, and the stories about how
other companies grapple with the same
challenges he faces.
"You think, 'Well, that's my business;
I'm the same as that,'" he says. "I see what
he does and how he does it; I see they are
growing. To me, it's reaffirming that other
people out there are doing what we do.
You always think that there's someone out
there ahead of everyone else. I believe we
are all pretty much on the same page."
More than 43 years after deciding that
the auto upholstery trade was something he
might be inclined to master, Buglass's days
are mostly spent managing the company-
organizing the jobs that are coming in,
ordering stock, preparing price quotes, and
other management and administrative tasks.
"I do try to get on the floor maybe six to
seven hours a week, if I'm very lucky," he
says. "I like to work with the guys and see
what's going on in the factory. They just
bounce ideas off me and I bounce ideas off
them. They run their own divisions really-
I'm just a guy who tries to make sure things
run smoothly."

side of the globe, one of the
larger projects the company
has ever taken on is one that
Charman owner Kimber Buglass can regularly enjoy and take pride in:
the refurbishing of the seats in the historic Napier Municipal Theatre.
The original theater, designed by leading Australian architect William Pitt
in 1912, featured an Italian Renaissance style. Sadly, it was destroyed in the
1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake, along with virtually all buildings in central
Napier. The theater was rebuilt within the decade, this time in an Art Deco
style. Today, Napier is a destination for tourists drawn to Art Deco and other
popular architectural styles of the 1930s when the city was rebuilt, and the
theater is a centerpiece of that heritage.
In the 1990s, the city began a process of refurbishing the theater, turning
to Charman for the seating portion of that work. The seating design needed
to retain the Art Deco style, using the existing arms and wrought iron legs;
but unlike the original, it needed to include a spring system (so the seat
returns to an upright position automatically when a person rises) and use
fire-retardant materials. "They gave us one seat, and they asked us to
design it," Buglass says. "And we designed it and gave it back to our local
council here, and the council put it through to the architects. The architects
liked the design, so then it was sent away for the tipping system."
Once the seat design was approved, the refurbishing project took
two years, with 1,000 seats being restored in the Charman factory.
"I've been to the theater many a time and they haven't changed,"
Buglass says. "The seating has looked exactly the same; that's one
of the feathers in our cap, you could say."

What are your company's biggest strengths?
We always try to help our customers to find a solution. If we
haven't got the solution, we will try to point them in the right
direction. The smallest customer we can treat the same as a huge
job; there's no job too big or too small to take on. One of our main strengths is
getting all jobs finished on time. I don't like things sitting around. I like them done
and gone. People appreciate that the job has been turned around quickly.

Jill C. Lafferty is associate editor on the Review.

www.SpecialtyFabricsReview.com 29


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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019

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