Certainly Kovacs is a family business – but it’s a quality that goes beyond the famous surname.
Karen Stubbs was looking for work. Her former employer was a friend of Stephen Kovacs, and he originally put forward her name to the company owner. Karen turned up for a trial period to see if she would fit in as a machinist at the Papanui site. 32 years later and she’s still here – something we’re pretty happy about!
Besides the move in factory location she’s seen a lot of changes in her time at Kovacs. “We’ve gone from big Dacron-filled pieces, puffy suites with pullover covers to the more streamlined designs of today,” Karen says.
“In some ways it’s a lot easier today than it was then – when the suites used to be sewn together in one piece,” she says. “Nowadays there’s more work for the upholsterers.”
Her daily work has changed considerably too. Now also involved with marking leather, she’ll often work a piece right through the mark, cut and sew process. Karen enjoys the challenges that leather provides.
“Every hide is different, and having to work the pattern pieces can be tricky. With small variations in colour (in each hide) you work to get it so it flows from one section to the next,” says Karen. “A typical Ranfurly model has roughly six hides per suite – so it can be an intricate job. But it’s a very satisfying one too.”
With such experience and so much product knowledge it’s no wonder there’s a slight pause from Karen when quizzed on her favourite piece. Her pick is the Zoe chair, one chosen for it’s “overall elegance – it looks particularly good with a nice fabric selection.”
Now… about that family connection at Kovacs. When asked if there’s anything else interesting about her last 32 years at work Karen casually mentions she met her husband here. “We got married in 1994,” she says. “There was a lot of Kovacs people at the wedding too – as he knew all the woodies (the woodworking department) and I knew all the machinists.”