We’ve all heard the phrase – “you can do anything you want to do”. But most people leave out the important caveat; if you have the aptitude and if you work really, really hard at it. Eddie Potestio of Eddie’s Rods and Customs in Pueblo, Colorado is the perfect example of a person who not only had a dream, but who also had the inherent skills and the determination to make that dream come true. It all started with a mini pickup.
“Yeah, I was in high school, and I had a little, mini pickup that I wanted to customize,” explains Potestio. “My parents were not rich, so if I wanted to do something to the truck, I was going to have to learn how to do it myself.”
Keep in mind, this was back in the late ‘70’s – early ‘80’s. Because Googling how-to videos on YouTube was not an option back in the day, Potestio had only one way to learn: books.
“You know those classic motor books? I don’t know how to do body work, so I read a book about it,” says Postestio. “Don’t know how to paint? I read another book. And then the next book and the next book.”
When it came to learning how to do upholstery, Potestio decided he needed to go to a professional.
“This guy Joe Skubal was the best in town. I went to him to do my seat and it was like $350,” Potestio says. “I thought he charged me an exorbitant amount of money. Of course, now, no one gets up in the morning for $350 in this business,” he laughs.
He asked Skubal to teach him one on one, but he got turned down. Skubal offered to give Potestio’s work a look now and then, however.
“Joe told me I could take home stuff he threw in the trash and take it apart and learn from it and then I could come back and show him, and he’d tell me how I did,” says Potestio. “So, the day after I graduated from high school I went out and bought a sewing machine. I didn’t know how to use it, but I just started learning on my own. I would take stuff to Joe, and he’d tell me what I did right and what I did wrong."
Potestio has been in the business for 40 years now and although he’s mainly a one-man-shop, he manages seven to eight full interiors per year. He feels like it takes him longer to do a car now than it used to and figures it's age creeping up on him. But his wife set him straight on that notion.
“She told me it had nothing to do with age,” Potestio explains. “She told me I don’t do anything simple anymore – that everything I do I have to make better because I’m trying to beat the last interior I did. I never really thought about it that way.”
Consequently, Potestio is picky about the leather he uses in his restorations. “I’ve worked with some leather that’s like working with plywood. I like a leather you can work in a lot more directions. Leather that’s soft and supple,” explains Potestio. “I’m pretty much using Moore and Giles exclusively for all of my leather now. I especially like their Carlyle line because it’s not all doctored up. You don’t get the stiffness that you sometimes see with other leathers.”
Potestio is also impressed with Moore and Giles' customer service. “I tell Randy Maggard what I’m looking for and he points me in the right direction. He’ll explain why maybe my original choice isn’t the best for the job I’m working on,” says Potestio. “And remember, I’m self-taught, so sometimes he’ll have to explain what certain terms mean and he’s just great about it.”
Unlike many businesses, Potestio doesn’t have a list of goals for his shop. He’s more interested in the here and now.
“I go one project at a time. I try not to let my mind wander about future projects because it consumes too much of my time,” he says. “And I’m still learning. I figured out a new technique for something just this morning. Nobody told me how to do it – I just experimented until it was right. And that’s what works for me.”
For more information about Eddie’s Rods and Customs go to eddiesrodsandcustoms.com or contact Eddie Potestio at 719-671-1068.
To learn more about Moore and Giles leather contact Randy via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on his Instagram page: @rbestleather