Fabric Within the Richmond Community
Antique furnishings and vintage automobiles are cherished possessions among their owners, but not even the highest-quality items can resist the ravages of time. Enter Tom Coggio, owner of Coggio Upholstery in Richmond, Vermont. A true artisan, he takes the worn down treasures of local residents and restores their appearance and function. For Tom, business is all about taking what his fellow Vermonters treasure and offering the unique service of making it into something both beautiful and durable. It’s something very few craftsmen in the U.S. can do, and it’s a trade that Tom Coggio has mastered.
“If you can sit on it, I can recover it” is Coggio’s motto, and he’s not joking when he says it. Bringing new life to vintage autos and the gorgeous Victorian and Art Deco furnishings found throughout Vermont is just part of the picture.
Located at 182 East Main Street in Richmond, Vermont, Coggio Upholstery is a full-service upholstery business where the possibilities are unlimited. A quick tour of Tom’s shop reveals everything from vintage dental chairs to Chris-Craft boats and vehicle components. A one-man business, the upholstery shop caters to hotel, hospitality, and industrial clients too. It’s a diverse line of business, and Tom has made a name for himself by welcoming new projects and opportunities. It’s rare for him to turn an opportunity to upholster down. It’s something that Tom’s clients have come to appreciate over the years, especially when they bring him projects that require as much artistic imagination as they do technical skill.
It was a huge help to have a credit union like that just help me out, and it’s nice to know that it’s local.
Coggio has been in business for himself since 2005, but his training in the world of upholstery goes back much farther. As a teen, he learned about the art of automotive upholstery from a neighbor who had his own shop.
“After school as a kid, before computers and cable TV came into play, I would go over there and tear apart furniture,” says Tom.
He learned about the various facets of his trade young, which is something he believes is essential in his industry.
“This is kind of a trade that you almost have to grow up around because there’s so many different aspects to it.” To his clients, there’s no doubt that Tom has mastered the various aspects of upholstery.
It’s not just Coggio’s craftsmanship that stands out either. It’s also his art aptitude. A professional musician for 25 years, Tom understands how to use his technical skills to elevate the pieces he works on in order to make them extraordinary.
Renown for Tom has spread beyond his neighborhood. In fact, a high demand for talented upholsters, paired with a dearth of seasoned professionals in the field, is part of what keeps Coggio Upholstery going strong. Tom has earned an excellent reputation for his work in the Richmond area, and word has spread to clients in other states as well.
“I get some people from across the lake in New York and New Hampshire,” said Tom. “You know, there’s just not a lot of us doing it.”
Coggio upholstery is a one-man show, and there’s no doubt that his work keeps Tom incredibly busy. He says that “it’s tough to be the salesman, the workman, and the businessman” but that he’s also thankful for the opportunity to own his business. The road to his current shop wasn’t easy, especially with increasing regulations for small and micro-businesses in Vermont.
While Tom had found success in his trade, he knew that he needed outside financial support to grow his business. He had secured a loan through a large, national bank, but he wasn’t pleased with the interest rate or terms. It wasn’t until he discovered Opportunities Credit Union that Tom was able to secure the financing he needed without worrying about unfavorable rates and terms.
Although it might seem logical, it actually wasn’t upholstery that brought Tom Coggio to Opportunities Credit Union in the first place. Like many of the Credit Union’s customers, Tom first came to Opportunities because he made a personal connection with one of its employees. He was placing a doberman pincher puppy from a littler he’d bred with an Opportunities employee when the subject of business financing came up. It was through this puppy-driven encounter that Tom learned he could likely get business financing from the local Credit Union at a significantly lower rate than he was paying to a national bank at the time.
Tom believed that working with a local credit union would translate to great rates, convenience, and personalized service. He was tired of supporting a national bank that didn’t seem care about his business, and he was eager for something to change.
When he was ready to explore his financing options, Tom headed to Opportunities to speak with Laz Manrique, the credit union’s Business Development Manager.
“Laz was a big help because he came out here to me,” said Tom, pointing to his Richmond shop. “I didn’t have to run into Winooski or to the credit union, so it was kind of nice having a loan officer come out with the applications, which can be lengthy.”
Tom shared that Laz did more than just bring him applications. He also helped him understand the ins and outs of the financing paperwork and gave targeted advice about how to think through each section of the application. Tom says that he’s an artist first and foremost, and paperwork isn’t always his cup of tea. The extra support he received from Laz was key to helping him take advantage of the dynamic financing opportunities offered by his local credit union.
When Tom is asked if he’s recommend Opportunities Credit Union to other business owners, he doesn’t hesitate to praise the small financial institution.
“It was a huge help to have a credit union like that just help me out, and it’s nice to know that it’s local,” he says.
For Coggio, working with Opportunities was more than just essential. It was convenient too. There was none of the hassle of working with a national financial institution, which allowed Tom to focus on what really matters to him: The art of upholstery.
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