LIMA, N.Y. — With the rise of work-from-home opportunities, some trade jobs are being affected. Now a local business owner is looking to teach the next generation a new skill.
Kenneth Gray and his team are busy at John Bailey Custom Furniture in Lima.
"We do refinishing, restoration, upholstery, custom wood making, building, you name it, we do it," said Gray, who owns the business.
Ken's passion for restoring old treasured furniture into works of art goes back 20 years. Unfortunately, he says the late 19th-century past time is starting to lose its appeal.
"Furniture restoration or woodworking in this term, is upholstery becoming a dying art," said Gray. "There are not too many people in our generation around right now that want to continue this."
Money received from the federal government might change that. The city of Rochester received a little over $200 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act. YouthBuild is a nonprofit organization that received a piece of that funding to continue the work of teaching the next generation life skills with the potential of connecting them with employers.
"So a lot of students don't necessarily have an interest in the trade but come through our program because they are getting help with resume writing and a network of employers," said Nicolas Brown, YouthBuild construction skills instructor. "Regardless of their interests, when they leave our program, we are doing everything we can do to get them employed."
"We were pushed into going to college or getting an office job," said one worker at John Bailey Custom Furniture. "These things were kind of like, 'oh you don't want to do that.' We're finding it is very fulfilling and there is a lot of creativity in this job."
So why is furniture restoration a dying art? Perhaps a lack of attention span or maybe it's a lack of interest. Either way, Ken still has hope that one day someone will see the beauty in restoring something old.
"My hope for the future is to be able to keep on performing the restorations and processes that we do and be able to teach the next generation about this," he said.