Dan Skiles Jr.: Mastering the Craft
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SANTA ROSA — In the years following his employment at an upholstery shop, Dan Skiles Jr. went from sweeping floors to mastering a time-honored craft. “After graduating from high school, I got a job at a local upholstery place, where I started off pushing a broom and making deliveries,” he remembers. “Pretty soon, I moved up to stripping furniture and started learning how to sew. Along the way, one of the old-timers took me under his wing and taught me the finer points of the craft. In 1985, I started Master’s Touch Upholstery and have been here ever since.”
Today, Dan says that although shifts in popular consumption have had a diminishing effect on the upholstery trade, it has also created a more specialized niche for the craft’s remaining practitioners. “These days, most people don’t take their sofas to be reupholstered—they just buy a new one. As a result, there’s not nearly as many upholstery shops as there used to be. However, there are still plenty of people who have high-end or antique furniture they don’t want to get rid of, which helps keep us in business.”
A lifelong resident of the North Bay Area, Dan resides today in Santa Rosa with his wife, Cheryl, where he appreciates the luxuriant local landscape. “Here in Sonoma County, we have some of the most beautiful countryside around,” he asserts. “As a lover of the outdoors, I enjoy driving around and taking in the scenic beauty.”
Outside of work, Dan enjoys a number of hobbies and activities, including gardening, fishing, raising birds and playing guitar for his church’s worship band. “I like gardening on my property and fishing for largemouth bass at Clear Lake,” he affirms. “I also raise Indian Fantail pigeons, which I show, judge and sell.”
In regard to a professional philosophy, Dan espouses the importance of integrity. “When we open up a piece of furniture, we have to make decisions depending on what we find,” he explains. “An upholstery shop can either cut corners and go the cheap route or do it in a way that yields long-lasting performance. By staying committed to the latter approach, we consistently do right by our customers.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Dan says he would continue enjoying the things that currently occupy his free time. “I would spend more time tending to my garden and birds, as well as fishing. I’ve never been much for traveling—I’m just happy being out in the fresh air and among growing things.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Coffee or tea?
Q: Have you ever read a book more than once?
A: The Bible.
Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: My mom’s chocolate chip cookies.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Christmas—it has religious significance for me and it’s a time for family to get together.