PBA Spotlight: Phil Reed, Upholstery Shop & Furniture Repair

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Phil_Upholstery shop_chairs-before-afterPhil Reed has been one of the “leaders and best” in reducing University of Michigan’s waste for over 30 years. How you ask? He works in the U-M Upholstery Shop and Furniture Repair. The Upholstery Shop repairs and gives new life to everything from desk chairs and exercise equipment, to auditorium seating and antique wood furniture. At a rate of five chairs per day over the last thirty years, that is a lot of chairs saved from the landfill (over 50,000!). Phil’s work is also saving the University big bucks. Labor and materials for re-upholstering chairs is around one third of what an average chair costs new.


“90% of furniture at U-M is high quality,” states Phil. High quality furniture should be reupholstered and repaired instead of replaced. “I believe everything should be recycled at least once.” 

Upholstery shop works on president's house plans

Phil works with Renee Cruse, interior designer, on plans for the furniture in the President’s House. Phil’s work breathes new life into dated-looking furniture; creating an appealing new aesthetic.

Phil works with facilities managers and clinical managers from all across the University, including the health system. During the hour we talked, Phil was working on a set of chairs from a student computer lab in Weill Hall, creating a black-out curtain for a lab, receiving new fabric orders, and reviewing plans with a designer for the President’s House. He is a busy man. His response? “I am passionate about my work.”

Leather door from Hutchins Hall

Phil’s favorite project over the years, and one of the most unique, was updating these leather doors from Hutchins Hall, replicating the original design.

Next time you need a piece of furniture repaired or updated, reach out to the Upholstery Shop instead of throwing it out. Recycle, revive--reupholster! http://www.plantops.umich.edu/construction/shops/Upholstery/.

Upholstery shop working on chairs