High demand for upholstery workers in North Carolina

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- When you think of the Piedmont’s rich history in the furniture industry, you would think that it wouldn’t be difficult to fill jobs -- companies say that’s not the case.

It’s a daily struggle to find people with upholstery skills.

The industry dwindled when jobs were sent overseas, but a lot of the jobs are coming back.

The problem is it doesn’t seem like the people are.

“At one time it was fresh out of high school -- people just came into this industry and generations worked, moms, dads, sons, daughters, but we just don’t have that influx of people now because of competing employment environments,” said Randy Shealey, operations coordinator at Michael Thomas Furniture.

Michael Thomas Furniture is based in High Point.

A basic job search showed there are dozens of openings across the state in the field.

Pamela Villagomez is the president of Leather Solutions International – an Asheboro leather repair company that works with manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.

Villagomez says there are often repair situations where upholstery skills are needed.

“There are things sometimes a customer needs to have reupholstered and we can’t find anybody to do them, there’s nobody out here. They’re all retiring,” Villagomez said.

Villagomez is also a certified leather instructor and says teachers like her will need to continue training others to help rebuild the industry.

Companies are partnering with community colleges that provide classes teaching upholstery skills as a way to find and develop talent.