Owner of Local Company Enjoys a Challenge

Photography Provided

Gerald Otto, owner of Crystal Valley Upholstery in Middlebury, loves a challenge.

“I’ll take on any job that comes to my door,” Otto says. “There isn’t an upholstery job I can’t do. I look forward to new challenges all the time, and it’s been that way since I started my business four years ago. I love it when I have a new project to work on.”

Boat upholstery is his favorite type of work.

“Working on boat seats are my specialty,” Otto says. “I love it. I enjoy being able to reupholster a boat seat to really make it look nice for the owner. I put a lot of time into everything I work on. There are a lot of great boats around here that need seat upholstery work.”

Otto developed a strong interest in upholstery projects as a child.

“My grandpa did a lot of wonderful upholstery work, and I took a great interest in it,” Otto says. “I loved watching him work. He was so dedicated. I think I was about six or seven years old when I started asking him a lot of questions about the upholstery work he did, and how I could learn how to do it as well. He was great at it. I discovered that it’s really rewarding work.”

Otto is glad he made the decision to start his own business doing something he loves.

“I got a sewing machine, and my first project was a love seat that turned out great,” Otto says. “Word got out, and people started finding out about me. I’ve been fortunate. Some people around here have recommended me. I have been able to build the business.”

Otto and his wife Doretta, who also works at Crystal Valley Upholstery, are optimistic about the future despite recent challenges.

“The coronavirus pandemic forced a lot of businesses to close down for a while, and it was tough on all of us,” Otto says. “We had to shut down for seven weeks, but we have had more people calling us again for new work, and that has worked out very nicely. I think things are slowly turning around. People are getting back to their routines.”

Otto says L & R Marine in Shipshewana has become a regular customer.

“They send me quite a bit of work through the winter months that keeps me busy,” Otto says. “There are a lot of great people there. I love working on pontoon boats. There are really a lot of great ones around here. They are so popular, and people like to keep them looking nice.”

Otto says he can also work on upholstery for pleasure boats and fishing boats.

“I love keeping busy, and I will help boat owners have comfortable seats for all of their outdoor fun,” he says. “This is a great place to be because of all the beautiful lakes in the area.”

Otto has also made a lot of homeowners more comfortable during their increased time at home, due to the coronavirus-related business shutdowns.

“I have done good work on Queen Anne chairs and recliner chairs,” he says. “I can also work on couches and sofas. I can work on just about any kind of home furniture. People want to be able to relax in a nice chair when they get home, or they also might be doing a lot more work from home, and I can fix your chairs up real good.”

Otto says he has samples customers can examine at his shop.

“I have some foam samples and fabrics to look at,” he says. “They come in different colors, and people can see and pick out what they like. I have sample books they can look at. Customers can order whatever they want.”

When Otto isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with Doretta and their five sons.

“We love the whole area and all of the wonderful lakes around here,” Otto says. “This is a great place to live and have a family.”

Crystal Valley Upholstery is located at 2185 North 1150 West in Middlebury. For more info, call 574-327-3900.

Comments 1

  1. John Smith says:

    I have a pontoon that needs new upholstery and. A cover. Would you want the whole boat.
    Hoe coiuld i get a estimate.. IT IS Available now till may 2022
    THANK You John

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