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Old is renewed

Elite Furniture Service refinishes, restores

Published: Saturday, March 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Jeff Kleinschmidt, owner of Elite Furniture Service, works on a piece of furniture in his McHenry shop on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Caption
(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com)
Chris Schoenhoft of Cary works on a piece of furniture at Elite Furniture Service in McHenry.
Caption
(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Chris Schoenhoft of Cary works on a piece of furniture at Elite Furniture in McHenry on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.

McHENRY – Inside the Elite Furniture Service shop are tables and dressers in the process of being shined and refinished.

There are handmade rosewood tables, chairs, buffets, and hutches built in the 1940s, and some old-time radio frames being refurbished.

Elite Furniture Service was opened in 1996, and the business has been in his current location at 3421 Pearl St. in McHenry for a decade.

Business has grown, and owner Jeff Kleinschmidt is in the process of opening a new shop in Genoa City, Wis., for upholstery work.

“We could no longer do upholstery here, we outgrew the facility,” Kleinschmidt said. “We took the upholstery out of here because of the amount of dust and chemicals we have in here. It was hard to have both in the same location.”

The finishes are sprayed, so there is a booth with an exhaust vent that sounds like a jet engine when it’s on. All the particulates get trapped in the filter wall, Kleinschmidt said.

Inside the shop, there is a machine that takes chemicals, like stains and lacquers, and turns them into clean solvent.

The solvent is remixed into the finishes, among other things.

“I try to be as green as possible,” Kleinschmidt said. “Just by not throwing your furniture away, and restoring it, is a green move.”

“We recycle as much as possible,” Kleinschmidt added.

About 70 percent of his clients are repeat customers or referrals.

“We’ve weathered the storm, we’ve had to change course a couple of times,” Kleinschmidt said. “At one time we did a lot of repairs for new furniture stores.”

People buy a lot of furniture online now, said Kleinschmidt, 43, of Twin Lakes, Wis., who used to live McHenry.

When the economy was booming, people tended to buy new furniture. But with the downturn, people buy quality pieces in second-hand stores, and have shops such as Elite Furniture restore the pieces. People also are bringing pieces that may have been in storage.

“We modernize,” Kleinschmidt said. “We take a lot of things that have been dated looking and made them contemporary.”

“We do anything with furniture,” Kleinschmidt added.

Work in the shop could cost from $145 to thousands of dollars, Kleinschmidt said.

“A lot of people are buying furniture that’s not made as well as the old stuff, so we do a lot of repairs on that,” Kleinschmidt said.

Kleinschmidt also is involved in the community. He is a volunteer with McHenry Fiesta Days, and serves as the entertainment director. Kleinschmidt used to be a singer in a band and uses his connections to book bands for the annual festival. It is something he has done for 10 years.

“I have a lot of friends who are professional musicians who are in the business,” Kleinschmidt said. “I know people and they help me. It helps a lot.”

Kleinschmidt runs the stage during the festival. During the Fiesta Days weekend, he works about 40 hours, but says he is part of a team.

“There are a ton of great volunteers,” Kleinschmidt said.

• • •

Elite Furniture Service:

What: A furniture refinishing and upholstery business.

Where: 3421 Pearl St. Unit A, McHenry.

Information: Call 815-759-1575 or visit elitefurnitureservice.com

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