Colbath Upholstery Builds Legacy
For over 16 years, Colbath Upholstery has been servicing the entire metro area from Elk River. Nestled in an industrial park on Joplin Street near the Elk River Library, Colbath Upholstery is a bustling workshop where new fixtures come alive and dilapidated furnishings get a new lease on life. Owned and operated by Jeff and Cheryl Colbath, the family business was founded in Crystal in 1961 by Jeff’s father, Robert Colbath, and has built a solid reputation over the years on its quality custom upholstery and related services.
Jeff and Cheryl run the shop out of an office and high-bay area filled with projects well under way. The crew of five, who have over 125 years of experience between them, spread fabrics, leathers, and tools across long worktables made from retired bowling lanes as they pattern, cut, and sew various projects.
Jeff points to a blue ’72 Chevrolet Nova inside the shop getting a complete interior makeover and a leopard print antique chair that’s just been finished. “We do just about anything,” he says, “whether our customers’ upholstery needs are residential, commercial, auto, marine, recreational, sewing or design.”
Referrals are a pillar of the business. “Many of our new customers know long-standing clients who have been pleased with our work,” Jeff adds, “so most of our business comes by word of mouth.”
The business sales were up 50 percent last year after a dip caused by the recession. Jeff and Cheryl see their company’s growth as a continuation of the heritage that Jeff’s father launched over 50 years ago. Their son, Justin, has been working in the company for three years and plans to continue the heritage far into the future. “Justin is third generation,” Jeff explains, “and Cheryl and I hope to continue growing the company, so he has a solid future in the business. Our desire is that he will have job security here so he can take care of his family and carry on the Colbath legacy.”
The Colbaths enjoy working on antiques and are especially proud of their restoration of an antique diamond tufted fainting couch and an antique corset chair, both museum-quality pieces. “We’ve even upholstered antique furniture made by Kittinger, a company that built furniture for the White House,” Jeff says, but adds that antiques are only a small part of the business.
In a profession where most upholstering businesses specialize in antiques, Colbath is unique in that it does just about everything. “For example,” Cheryl says, “awnings are really taking off right now, and in a couple months we’ll be restoring boat interiors for the summer.”
But whether it’s awnings, custom motorcycle seats, RV interiors, tarps, boat covers, pillows, bar stools, proto-typing and more, Colbath is prepared to handle it.
Colbath Upholstery works with individuals as well as larger companies, including Furniture and Things, Zylstra Harley-Davidson, Plaisted Co. and Susan Hoffman Interior Designs, to name a few. “We work hard to meet the tightest deadlines,” Jeff said, “and deliver some of the best craftsmanship in the state.” Colbath Upholstery is currently working with a local furniture store to develop a line of custom-built furniture.
Jeff keeps watch for exciting and challenging projects and is bidding now on a plan to restore the interior of a 1938 Plymouth coupe. “If we get it, we’ll replace the interior headliner, upholster the exterior roof, and completely remodel the seats,” he says, adding that it is a good example of the bottom-to-top work they can do there. “It’s a real joy to work on great projects here in Elk River and we look forward to each and every challenge that comes our way.”
Colbath Upholstery Services is located west of Elk River, just south of Highway 10 at 18320 Joplin St. N.W.
Visit their website at www.colbathupholstery.com or call them for more information at 763-241-1477.