CHB upholsterer with 40 years of experience opens his own business

After celebrating his 60th birthday, Steve Bradley and his wife, Caroline were planning retirement and a campervan exploration of New Zealand after he was made redundant from Sloanes Saddlery and Canvas, where he had worked for more than 20 years.

However, with no other business offering his skill set in Waipukurau and a love for his trade, Steve and Caroline decided to launch their own business and work from home.

When launching his new business, CHB Upholstery and Canvas Ltd, Steve purchased equipment and fabrics from his last employer, which closed shortly after he was made redundant, and adapted them to fit his shed and cabin.

Starting a business is a different ball game to applying his skills developed over 40 years, with all the demands of accountancy and compliance.

Caroline is taking time from her nursing to get her head around these processes.

Steve admits this is possibly the worst time to launch a business with the government, and uncertain farming and environmental matters.

Still, he and Caroline believe that ” if it is meant to happen, it will happen” and that it is up to them “to make it happen”.

Six months later, those in the know have hugely supported Steve and Caroline’s new venture.

Steve is known to have a great reputation for his workmanship, and word spread quickly, and the new business has been going very well so far.

Locals recognise a good tradesman when they see one.

Steve started his upholstery career with a three-year apprenticeship with Palmerston North’s Len Shailer Ltd. before specialising in restoring classic cars with Beacham Jaguar Ltd. in Havelock North.

He then applied his skills for Sloanes Saddlery and Canvas for 21 years until it closed.

Now, he is putting all of those skills into his own business.

“Not much has changed in the trade over 40 years,” Steve says, besides updated machinery and materials changing from the 80s vinyl to today’s cloth and leathers.

He added new machines, like a new PVC welder for making truck tarpaulins, can help, “but some of the oldest are still the best”.

The upholsterer is never happier than when he is meeting a challenge, whether it is recovering a much-loved lounge suite, restoring the interiors of classic cars, making covers for utes, trucks, machinery, sandpits and awnings for tents, fixing up furniture in kindergartens and schools, or repairing children’s car seats and car upholstery.

Steve likes variety best, and he can understand the attraction of TV 1′s Repair Shop because that is what he does.

One of his pleasures is meeting people and helping them turn something dilapidated into something new.

His favourite slogan is “Trash or Treasure”.

Feel free to contact Steve at 027 354 8141, drop into his workplace (his home) at 194 Porangahau Road, Waipukurau or visit on Facebook or the website.


First published by CHB Mail.