The Head Office of the AMUSF is based in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire having moved from Saunderton in September 2018. The Manager of the Association is Richard Ranklin, ably supported by Susan Tyler and the membership-elected Board of Directors.
History of the AMUSF
The AMUSF was founded in 1947 (then as the AMU) to protect the interests of upholsterers, small furniture makers, and soft furnishers. In those days of post-war austerity, this group of master craftsmen (and craftswomen) were starved of many of the materials needed for their trades. They felt the need for a group voice and mutual support to tackle the difficulties this caused and, in the highly regulated environment of the time, to ensure that they could influence local and national government in the framing and enforcement of laws which affected them.
A pamphlet was written in 1967 by Les Beagen taking a look at the first 20 years of the Association – read the pamphlet in full.
The AMUSF now
Since those early days, the Association has vastly extended the range of support it gives to members. It is still a lobbying body but it also provides diverse services to members including advice on sourcing materials, Health and Safety, HR, the fire safety regulations for both domestic and contract furniture, a group buying scheme, a free legal helpline and many others. It publishes a quarterly magazine and distributes a monthly e-newsletter which keeps members abreast of trade news and of current developments affecting the trade.
The Association is also highly active in training, administering the most comprehensive qualifications in Traditional Upholstery in the UK, as it sees this as a vital contribution to the long-term well-being and continuing strength of the upholstery and soft furnishing trades – see further information about AMUSF Training and Qualifications.
The AMUSF and the consumer
The Association recognises that the strength of the sector is dependent on the quality of the service that members provide to the public. Endeavoring to underpin consumer confidence in members’ work is therefore central to the Association’s work. This is why upholsterers and soft furnishers wishing to join have to undergo a verification process where the quality of their work, their working environment, and their customer service are demonstrated to be of an acceptable quality. Applicants for membership will generally have been in business on their own account for at least three years following their training before becoming eligible to apply for membership.
The Association has a complaints and mediation procedure to ensure that in those rare instances where there is a dispute between a member and their customer we can help to keep both sides talking and help them reach an acceptable settlement.
We have in membership both large and small businesses who undertake a wide range of standard and specialised work within both the domestic and contract markets. Whether they are a sole trader working out of a small workshop or a larger business with many employees they all have a passion for maintaining the high standards that the discerning consumer is looking for. The range of work undertaken by members includes traditional upholstery, antique restoration, modern upholstery work (including contract work for public buildings), furniture frame making, bespoke furniture making, loose covers, car/coach trimming, marine upholstery, bespoke bed manufacturers, polishing, caning and then within soft furnishing there are those specialising in curtains and draperies, blinds, and lampshade making. The range of work done by our membership is very wide but most members fall into the categories of either upholsterers or soft furnishers.
Our membership also includes those giving vital support to businesses in upholstery and soft furnishing work. This includes teachers of these crafts, suppliers of goods to the DIY sector and suppliers to the trades.
Consumers can search for a member in their locality using the search facility on the homepage. Not all members will do all types of work but a quick phone call or email will establish how the member can help you with your requirements.
Directors and officers
The Association is governed by a Board of Directors, largely elected by the membership. Additionally, a President and Vice President are appointed by the membership every two years.
- President – Mr Malcolm Hopkins FAMU
- Vice President – Mr Richard W J Ranklin FAMU
- Chairman of Board – Mr Martin Pickard
- Stephen Chapman, FAMU
- Penny Bruce, FAMU
- Frank Geoghegan, FAMU– Director for Membership and Members’ Services
- Michael Gilham, FAMU – Vice Chairman
- Peter Hubbard – Director of Finance
- Stephen Franklin FAMU
- Wendy Shorter, FAMU – Director of Training & Education
- Louise Boyland
- Maureen Whitemore
- Franco Marinelli, FAMU
- Richard W J Ranklin (Association Manager)
- Susan Tyler (Office Manager)