Interviewed on 560 The Answer Radio
11 Oct 2017

Interviewed on 560 The Answer Radio

Derrick Rauwerda from RenewPro, a furniture repair and restoration expert located in Chatham, Ontario. Derrick’s here today to share some little known secrets for saving big money by renewing your leather and fabric furniture like new rather than replacing them. Derrick, welcome to the show.

“Thank you very much”.

Hey Derrick, tell us a little bit more about your business RenewPro.

“RenewPro is a mobile service that I have been doing for over 20 years. The beauty with RenewPro is that I can come to your home and do the repair on site.  I can even match the color by eye which is quite an art to do. You can do the most perfect repair but if you can’t get the color right it looks like a shoddy repair. So, after all these years of experience I have got it down to quite a science on doing the repairs. I travel quite a distance too. I live in Chatham but I go as far as Windsor and Sarnia and even up to London. Renew Pro is a mobile service which is quite handy for a lot of people because once you start taking the furniture out of your home you risk the chance of more damage. And in cars, people just love the quick,friendly service .

I thought it was important to have you on this show Derrick because I know you get a lot of your business from referrals and I kind of saw your business as sort of really a hidden gem almost like a secret. How come most people don’t know about your type of business. That you even exist.

“Yeah! I get that a lot. Lot of people say- Hey I didn’t know you existed but the thing is I have been around for 20 years. I do a lot of car dealers, I do a lot of furniture stores and the referrals I get from them is just amazing. Renew Pro is a very niche business. There is not many people doing what I am doing because it takes a bit of an art to really grasp it and to do a good repair.

So people that have damaged furniture, what do they typically do if they do if they don’t know that your type of surface exists.

“What do they do?  Some people try to get a product off the internet and they try to do the repairs themselves and 99% of the time I get called to make things right.There is like four to six different ways you can do a repair and the best way how I have learned over the years was to practice on the used cars. I had so much work in the used cars that you get to try different techniques and you just get better at it. But people also call me because of pet scratches, kids that maybe mark up the furniture because of accidents or toys. Car dealers they call because of the discolorations in the leather and people with leather furniture are very concerned because they have spend a lot of money on their leather furniture and they see it discolored or dirtied.

So you are doing more than just automotive who else, you’re doing consumer stuffs too. So who typically calls you for furniture repair.

“Many homeowners call me, along with dentist, chiro and physio offices.I also get calls from car enthusiast, boat owners, moving companies, restaurants, insurance companies and I have restored several airplane seats.

Yeah, I never thought about that a lot. Fleet vehicles like limousines and that right.

“O yeah! I do a lots of those too.”Is there a significant savings to like repairing leather and and versus replacing the entire seat

“O definitely, say for a sofa if we have to replace a panel on the sofa, there is so much labor involved that’s where the big problem is. When you manufacture, its all assembly work but when you have to take it apart, its several hours and then you have to get the leather. And trying to get the right color leather to match is a big step. But if the repair is repairable, I usually determine that right off the bat and I can tell the level of how well the repair will turn out within a certain percentage and I tell the customer that. And then I come in and I do the repair,match the color and re-dye the area.  A typical repair is about a $100 but to replace that panel might be upwards of five or six hundred dollars.

Has like the technology you know in repairs as I’ve always been really skeptical about repairs like I’m thinking back in the 70’s and 80’s, what repairs kinda looked like. How has that evolved and and is it really quality today. Will it look like new?

“The percentage of my success rate is very very high. After a repair if you look really really close, you will always see a small scar. But that’s only because you know it’s been repaired psychologically. But somebody else walking in would never know its been repaired. That’s how good it is.”

So, I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten this question Derrick but how long can we expect furniture to last anyway. I mean I have a..I got a couch here’s been holding up for about six years and I always wondered like what is the lifespan of this couch. How long can we expect furniture to last?

“Well if you properly care for  the leather set that you do have, by cleaning  once a week or every other week with just warm soap and water, this helps to break down the body oils. It is important to put leather protection cream on the leather every four to six months. The leather protection cream gives a barrier and keeps your leather soft and supple. But the average life of a leather sofa is approximately 10 to 15 years. Today there are no leather tanneries left in North America, most of the leather is tanned off shore.

Hmm… OK. What are some of the most common repairs that you see the most. I know you mentioned some of them and what circumstances occur that caused folks to call you.

“Pet scratches is a big one. Accidents from kids. I also get nail polish on the leather.  There’s burns, discoloration marks, body oils on the headrest, color loss, cracking and peeling. Food and wine stains are big one. Ink is also a big one. That’s basically the top top six that I’ve got to see quite a bit of.”

Oh I got one to add to your list coz this just happened to me recently. How about moving.

“O yeah”

Yeah, I could tell you that now. “Can I tell you a story”? Yeah absolutely.

“One customer just bought a brand new leather sofa and loveseats. They picked it up themselves and they had it on their utility trailer. What happened was, they thought they had the furniture secured down but as they were driving a big gust of wind came and the furniture blew onto the road. Fortunately the frame was not damaged but the leather had several scrapes,cuts and scuffs on it.I came in and did the repairs to about 95% better.They were ecstatic because they thought they had to get rid of the set already.

I had another lady that calls, some frantic mom, her three year old got a pen and drew mommy, daddy, the kids, the dog on the side of their  beige sofa, but we were able to fix her up. No problems.”

Really, even that. Even drawing on the furniture.

“Yeah Yeah. And then I just had a customer who just bought a new sofa. They loved it but the dog didn’t love it-the dog took a big hunk out of the leather. So I had to come and fix that up too for them and they were they were pretty happy because I came to their house and did the repair.


“They feel better after I leave”

So, one more time some quick tips you started mentioning a little bit earlier about what are the best methods you know you would recommend for folks to extend the life or maximize the life of their furniture. Whether it be leather or fabric. Can you give us those tips again.

“Yup, the best way to clean most leather is actually very inexpensive. Just use warm water and a little bit of dish soap and then wipe down your leather furniture(always do a test area first) . That keeps the body oils down to a minimal. And then after it’s dry just put some good leather protection on top of your leather. It only takes a few minutes. I usually do it when I go to bed. That way it sits overnight and soaks into the leather and gives you a bit of a barrier on the leather. Fabrics about the same but it’s a little bit different for fabric. But there’s a protein spray that you can get for some of the fabrics that will actually dissolve any bad stains.Things like food stains, wine stains, pet stains.

On the dish soap that you mentioned, any tips on that. Certain types, colors or because I just thought of that.

“ The one I find I like the best is the Dawn dish soap. It works wonders for your leather.”

Excellent! So I hear that you have some super easy ways for folks to get a quote from you if they’ve got some damage. Tell us about those easy ways they can get a hold of ya.

“Yeah sure. Lot of people just call me and I ask them to send me a picture. That way I can see the damage. They just take a picture on their smartphone, and then text me the pictures of the damage. I then look at the pictures and I can tell pretty good whether I can repair and give them an average cost for the repair. It’s pretty quick and saves me from going to the customers home. Sometimes the damage is too excessive that I cannot repair.

Some people do not know how to send pictures so I will go to their house and give them an estimate-no charge.

Oh! That’s great. is that, do you do that with the same number to text a photo or to give you a call. You want to give out that number.

“Yeah, it’s Five One Nine Three Five Zero One Five Two Four is my cell number.”


One more time Derrick.

“Five One Nine Three Five Zero One Five Two Four.”

That’s excellent. So anytime, anyone in… and folks can text you a photo for a quick quote there as well.

“They sure can. Not a problem.”

All right, excellent. You have any final words for our listening audience?

“I have been doing leather and vinyl repairs on vehicles,furniture and boats for several years.

I offer a fast friendly mobile service. I average 1000-1500 car interior repairs and I do 300-400 furniture house call per year. I also repair frame and foam problems with your furniture.

Excellent! Well that’s excellent. Derrick, hey thank you for your time and keep up the good work for the community.

“Yeah, thank you very much Mark. I appreciate the talk and hopefully we can continue to keep moving forward.”

Excellent. It was great having you Derrick. So folks, make sure to call Derrick Rowerda from RenewPro and we’ll be right back with more talk of the town after this commercial break.

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