While the term “do-it-yourself” is often associated with creativity, there’s another important aspect to the DIY culture: the ability to be both resourceful and self-sufficient. When Steve Bugg was laid off from his job in 2016, he decided to take matters into his own hands and embark on a career journey that involved learning new tricks and the Ultrafeed® LS. This is a story of ingenuity and hard work — one that proves that it’s never too late to learn a new trade and explore the world outside of your comfort zone.
The beginning of Steve’s story starts with the end. “I was a land manager for a small oil and gas exploration company. I’d been with the company for 20 years. In 2016, the company went under and everyone was let go. … It was then that I realized if I could bust my butt for someone else’s company, I certainly could work even harder for myself. I found a franchise that repaired and restored leather, plastic and vinyl.”
While this type of business was an entirely new realm of his career experience, Steve realized that the business was unique in that it fulfilled a common need but had little competition. The market for repair was everywhere, as leather, plastic and vinyl are found in nearly every industry. You’ll find these materials in automobiles, boats, furniture, restaurants, medical offices, hospitals, planes and more. The job involved redying, cleaning, conditioning and repairing various types of leather, plastic and vinyl.
After purchasing the franchise, Steve found he was often renovating restaurant seating, but kept running into the same problems again and again. “I was doing a lot of restaurant work but was spending a lot of money hiring other people to sew for me so I could go out and re-cover the restaurant booths. These guys were making a lot of money off me. … That’s when I decided that I needed to learn how to sew. I was missing out on way too much money.”
After doing extensive research on a number of different sewing machine brands, there were a few contenders in mind. But once Steve stumbled upon the Sailrite website, that all changed. “I was taken in by all the videos, all the support products that just fit right into what I was doing, what I wanted to learn how to do, and other supplies I didn’t know I needed until I saw them on the website.” While Steve initially was fond of the Fabricator®, the need for portability was at the forefront of his budding business, as some sewing jobs would have to be done on-site. That led him to the Ultrafeed LS. With its straight stitch capability, the LS is portable and powerful enough to tackle the heavy materials encountered on the job.
After purchasing his new machine, the next step was for Steve to learn how to sew. While the Ultrafeed glided through the heavy vinyl material he was sewing, it was a more difficult material for a novice sewist to learn the tools of the trade. He’d never sewn before and the challenge seemed daunting at first. In situations like this, Steve’s perseverance and “can-do” attitude made all the difference, and Sailrite’s instructional videos helped too.
“I was struggling with the whole concept, but I kept moving forward and watched a ton of videos. Then I saw a video on how to sew piping. I knew I could do that. Plus, the standard foot on the Ultrafeed has a groove that guides piping. After I learned how to make the piping, it hit me that I was going to get better.” Steve continued to watch videos and began trying out his new skills on a few restaurant booths. After making adjustment after adjustment to his sewing technique, he finally managed to become proficient in the trade. Now he can visit the job site in need of repairs, take measurements and patterns, and have the repairs sewn by the next day. And the best part is he can save money that he had previously spent outsourcing his sewing jobs.
Steve continued to work arduously sewing and repairing materials for numerous clientele. But one day he noticed the machine wasn’t feeding the vinyl like it normally did. Being in the middle of a huge project for a restaurant, he frantically contacted Matt Borden from Sailrite customer support. Living in Texas, Steve couldn’t make it to the Sailrite facility in Indiana, but that wasn’t an issue — a simple phone call cleared everything up.
“Matt was cool, calm and collected while I was in a panic. He was extremely patient with me and guided me through the process of finding the problem and the solution. He couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful. … Before too long I was back up and sewing. I got the job done and the restaurant was thrilled. Matt Borden is my hero!”
From amateur to accomplished professional, Steve Bugg has been through life’s ups and downs and made it out on top. With his Ultrafeed LS and determination, anything is possible. On top of the numerous restaurant booths, he’s sewn a few boat cushions, medical examination tables and cushions for mobility scooters. While Steve’s future may not always be certain, it is always bright, and he looks forward to helping his next customer.
“I’m not great, but I’m getting better all the time. It’s rewarding to hear my customers say how wonderful everything turns out. I have 100% five-star reviews to date and I don’t want that to change. I love learning. And the more I learn, the more new tools and supplies I need, and Sailrite has almost everything!”
Who We Are
Sailrite is your one-stop DIY shop! We are a passionate crew of do-it-yourselfers who strive to equip you with the supplies and how-to knowledge you need to tackle your next project. Do you want to learn upholstery, leatherwork, canvaswork, hobby sewing, bag making or more? We have the fabric, tools, hardware, sewing machines and notions you need to master any DIY. And even if you’ve never sewn before, our tutorials and how-to videos are designed for beginners and experienced crafters alike.
Start your DIY journey today: www.sailrite.com
12 thoughts on “Five-Star Sewing With Steve Bugg”
Great Steve, keep it up… I’m trying my hand at it too. Can’t sew yet and no machine.. but soon LSZ-1. I have been doing small projects for my streetrod that sewing is not required, when I get my Sailrite I will be attempting every more jobs, seats, carpet with binding and cup/drink consoles etc
Good Luck to you
I love Steve’s story. I too am considering a change. I’m an avid boater in Rhode Island and see a need for this business. I’ve tried to get people down to my boat for a quote and it’s like pulling teeth to get a response. I’m 2 years away from retiring and think I can make a good retirement living doing this. I do have some experience sewing, but, like Steve, I am persistent I will be buying a Sailrite machine at some point.
sweet story. my son jeff roddy and his wife purchased a salrite machine and they are thrilled.
they live in Barrow alaska, where the women sew parkas out of animal fur.
I, however ,live In Indianapolis and since I follow the salrite stories I am wondering if I can come and visit your facility
Great inspirational story of a guy with a can-do attitude that didn’t let outside forces stop him; actually, they empowered him.
Thanks for sharing your story of success, Steve.
That’s awesome and very inspiring I’ve been sewing all kinds of canvas thanks to all the great products and support from sailrite as well
What a great story, gave me chills. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration. My boyfriend recently bought me the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 and I just finished a new bimini top for his boat. I am hooked; I LOVE this machine. I would love to break away from my office bank job and start a small business of my own.
Good luck Steve. You definitely have that Can Do American spirit. The confidence of Sailrite being a phone call away makes a huge difference. Thanks Sailrite.
Way to go, Steve! Thanks for sharing your story! Your forward thinking and determination are a shining example to all!
I’m rootin’ for you from Aggieland!
Very awesome story Steve! I retired from a police department after 32 years on the job. Then I said to myself, “OK Sarge, now what are you going to do?”. I’ve been sewing for awhile, making small stuff for the house, etc….. My brother asked me if I could make some repairs on a set of old seat cushions for his sailboat. i looked at them and told him (joking) that it would be easier to make new ones. He gave me a catalog
from Sailrite that was about 5 or 6 years old. I went on line to Sailrite, saw some of the videos and said, “I can do that!”. To make a long story shot, I started a small canvas shop in my hometown and actually make a decent amount of $$$$$. I don’t consider it work but FUN. The folks at Sailrite are fantastic to work with. So glad I got into the sewing business.
I started out with a Singer model 60. My work was Ok, but I struggled with getting straight stiches and professional results. Bought an Ls1 and was amazed at how much better my work became and straight stiches became the norm.
Your story is very inspirational and the mark of a true professional. The work gets easier the more you do. And yes, SailRight support is top notch!
What can I say but “Well done Steve”, your story is an inspiration to us all. Good luck with your business.
Big upps, steve.
You have done a great job, all the best