Publised on Sept. 3, 2013
In a valley noted for its aerospace industry, Javier Silva has a unique niche – upholstery work for private aircraft. Silva is the owner of Elite Interiors, a new Palmdale company with services that include aircraft interior refurbishing, seat upholstery, carpeting and cabinetry and woodwork. While the company is new, opening its doors in February, Silva has more than 25 years of experience in the industry.
“People who own airplanes want the best,” Silva said, “I can do everything for the interior of a private plane – seats, carpets, panels. I’m an all around guy. I can work on anything from Cessnas to BBJs (converted Boeing 737s).”
After working consistently in the industry since the early 80’s. Silva found himself out of work in June 2012. “I was unemployed. That’s what drove me to start my own business.” Silva said. “I thought maybe it’s time to branch out on my own.”
Silva had a choice – open up a shop near Van Nuys, where most of his new customers are, or set up business in Palmdale where he lives. He decided against a daily commute and opened his shop in Palmdale in February. Silva estimates he invested about $15,000 to get started. “I’ve worked for somebody else all my life. You get used to that weekly or bi-weekly check,” Silva said. “Now it’s a whole new ballgame. You work, get things done, and wait for your check.”
Silva set up his business in a 1,300-square-foot space in the Winnell Industrial Park on Third Street East, just north of Desert Sands Park. Silva drives down to the airports in Van Nuys and Long Beach, where most of his customers are located, when he needs to pick up or drop off items. Silva’s career path started at Reseda High School when he learned from the career counseling office about a trade school in Woodland Hills. He signed up for an upholstery class. After completing the course work, Silva went to work for a company that worked on limousines in Canoga Park. He was with that company for about four or five years and then hired in to a neighboring aircraft seat company decided to open up an in-house department to do upholstery work. Silva would spend much of his career in the San Fernando Valley, home of the Van Nuys Airport. He also worked for a few years for the Jet Center in Santa Barbara. The Jet Center handled commonly called BBJs, which are corporate versions of the popular Boeing 737 commercial airliner.
Having moved to the Antelope Valley in 1988, Silva made long commutes into work. Silva said he started out working on the bench, but would rise to management positions. That gave him experience in dealing with regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration on materials and processes. It also gave him contacts that he is now using to bring in business. The private aircraft industry is a reflection of the greater economy, Silva said. “I sense its starting to pick up again. Right now, from what I’m seeing, its on the rebound.” Silva said. “During the recession, plane owners would fix only what they had to fix. That was a sign they were hanging onto their money. Now, they are willing to spend money to maintain their aircraft better and make the cosmetic fixes.”
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