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'I can fix any seat crack!'

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For the past 35 years, Mark Lambrecht has been working hard to fix the cracks in people’s seats. And he does a wide variety of seats – big or small, tall or short, old and new.

“My dad did it and I got into it,” he said. “You’ve got to take your time when you’re doing this. It’s more art than anything. It’s not just a job.”

Lambrecht is the owner of Exquisite Upholstery at 141 E. Main Street in downtown Reedsburg. This week is the 15th anniversary of his business at the location. He creates new coverings for car, truck, motorcycle, restaurant, furniture, whiskey-barrel-couch, boat and RV seats.

“I did an entire RV one time, kept it under $1,000 for them. At one point we had 27 boat parts in the shop at one time,” he said. “They were everywhere, even on the sidewalk. I’ve had a lot of unusual things on my sidewalk.”

Lambrecht serves at least 30 restaurants, in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells, Mauston, Baraboo and Lake Delton. For each he guarantees same-day service to repair seats or any other item.

Items often arrive in terrible condition, not even looking like what they are supposed to be. Lambrecht has rebuilt more than one motorcycle seat because the original wasn’t able to be saved.

“They’ll come in all duct-taped,” he said. “I do a lot of tailoring to recreate the coverings. Some are so bad I can’t even make a pattern with them.”

Each item is stripped naked – every scrap must come off, he said – with all the parts worked on at the same time. Lambrecht will refinish woodwork as required. He replaces hay and straw in old furniture with new Dacron or foam filling.

“They used hay and straw a lot back then,” he said. “It was handy and didn’t cost anything. Now I use high-grade stuff. But, yeah, occasionally I get something with horsehair that I need to match. I can actually order that from my supplier.”

He then uses his ancient Japanese sewing machine to create new coverings – some tufted with buttons, some leather, some cotton – all works of art. A once-beautiful old chair he had in storage he decided recently to refurbish for himself. Intricate woodwork was partially broken and the stuffing was ripped, with the covering hanging in shreds.

“I cleaned it all up and took it the Amish to begin with,” he said. “They redid the carved woodwork. Then I put it all back together and recovered it. Beneath the old webbing was the date 1864.”

The finished chair sits in his business, looking like it did in 1864 – or even better.

“And I did a platform (for brides to stand on) for Brides & Belles across the street,” he said. “I’ve done all kinds of things. I’ve done so much.”

But probably the most unique request involved 160 inches of wall 96 inches high.

“She just walked in one day and asked if I could make her a padded wall,” he said. “It was for between two concrete columns. Their television hung between them, and vibrated too much for them to watch it. So I built four pieces of wood covered with tufted material. I used 380 buttons for the tufts. Now they can watch their TV without any problem.”

Lambrecht said he couldn’t keep up with the business without the help of his son, Chris Lehmann, who has another job, plus is in the Army National Guard. Lehmann said he likes helping and might someday take over the business.

The business is not just a way to make money. To Lambrecht, it’s his name and pride in his work.

“My name goes under everything I do,” he said. “I staple my card and put the date on the bottom of everything.”

Unlike the restaurants, personal-item business isn’t limited to the Reedsburg area. He has customers from all over the country.

“I had a lady from Massachusetts bring in an item,” he said. “It took her four months to come back to pick it up, but she was happy.”

Lambrecht will continue in the business, he said, for the next five, or 10, or maybe even 20 years. Every day is unique and interesting, he explained.

“The best thing,” he said, “is the satisfaction when things are done right.”

To celebrate his 15th anniversary, Lambrecht said he will give large discounts to customers all through Labor Day week.

Julie Belschner can be reached at jbelschner@capitalnewspapers.com or 608-495-0276

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