Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Turning back the clock

By JIM BAINBRIDGE THE GAZETTE Updated: June 24, 2005 at 12:00 am
Even if you’ve never heard of Western Services, you are familiar with its work. You’ve seen it, touched it, probably sat down on it. Maybe you’ve even spilled food on it.
For the past 46 years, Western Services Inc. has been the region’s go-to company for the restoration of furniture, and while the firm still does single-item residential jobs, 80 percent of its business is on the commercial side. The Broadmoor is a client. So is the Garden of the Gods Club, the Fine Arts Center, the Air Force Academy and Memorial Hospital, along with half a dozen area churches, several high schools, military installations and eateries. The local jobs keep owner Tony Wells and the 20 full-time employees at the 29th Street plant busy, but a reputation for high-quality work and adaptability has brought them out-ofstate contracts, lifting annual sales revenues past $1 million. Attention to quality is the company’s guiding principle. The Broadmoor has used Western Services for Charles Court, the Penrose Room, the golf club, lobby area and guest rooms and now has the firm working on booth seating for a proposed fivestar restaurant that would be part of its new convention center. “I’ve been in the hotel business for 23 years, and they are absolutely the best in terms of turning around a job without compromising quality,” said Michael Pastor-Clark, purchasing director at The Broadmoor. “They’ve never said no to anything we’ve asked of them, and some of it can be pretty complicated work. Right now they’re working on a project for our new Summit restaurant, building state-of-the-art booths from the ground up, using drawings sent from our designer in New York.” When the Fine Arts Center wanted to renovate its auditorium in 1984, it brought in Western Services to make the center look the way it did when Alice Bemis opened the place in 1936, even custom-dying the fabric for the 400 seats. For the renovation this summer at the Fine Arts Center, the goals are different. “The new director (Michael De Marsche) wants to make the space more usable, more comfortable,” Wells said. “We’re using highquality foam instead of springs and using more contemporary fabrics that will hold up better, be more resistant to wear and stains.” Adapting to situations is part of the job. On large jobs there may be an owner, an architect, a designer — or all three — providing direction. There may even be historical imperatives, as there were at the Fine Arts Center and when the company restored the seating in the Pioneers Museum courtroom. “For that job we couldn’t use Phillips-head screws because they weren’t used when the courthouse was built,” Wells said. Still, the company’s most challenging job was a matter of scale. Clothing designer Michael Kors hired it last fall to create fixture packages for department stores all over the world. The idea is to set up a consistent look for Kors’ line in every store — a store within a store. For Western Services this meant shipping 1,500 leather bench seatings in a little over four months, some of it custom work such as the three zebra-hide pieces that went to the Rodeo Drive store in Beverly Hills. “It was probably a year’s worth of work,” Wells said. “We really had to beef up (hiring 10 more workers) to get through it. At the same time, we still had couches and dining room sets coming through the door. And The Broadmoor called at that same time with maybe 200 chairs they needed pretty quickly. There were a lot of sleepless nights last fall.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0126 or bainbird@gazette.com UNCOVERING HISTORY In the 34 years his family has owned Western Services, Tony Wells has never found rare 19th century coins in seat cushions or manuscripts in a seat backing. His one historical find came when he was working on the furnishings in the Air Defense Command war room at the Chidlaw Building downtown for a move to Peterson Air Force Base. “When I flipped up one of the seats,” Wells said, “there was a plaque on the under side saying that it had been sat in by John F. Kennedy at some particular meeting. They (the military) didn’t even know it was there. When I finished working on it, they put it on display in their base museum.” PROJECTS - The Broadmoor - Garden of the Gods Club - Memorial Hospital - Pioneers Museum courtroom - Fine Arts Center theater - Michael Kors store fixtures - El Paso Club dining room - Double Eagle Casino restaurant - Focus on the Family theater - Peaberry Coffee booths - Air Force Academy Chapel - Arnold Hall, Air Force Academy - Fairchild Hall, Air Force Academy - Worner Hall, Colorado College - Rocky Ford Grand Theatre - Marriott, Crested Butte - Gatalyn Lodge, Vail - Minneapolis Orchestra Hall - Ralph Lauren Grill, Chicago - Epcot Center English Pub
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