Big-time cars in little Kilkenny

By: 
Lisa Ingebrand, Montgomery Messenger

Craftsmen Bill Schriefels (left) and Dan Knish design and create everything that comes out of the shop.

Classic cars from all over the nation are rolling into the little town of Kilkenny, Minnesota.

Their destination? Knish Kustomz, a small, two-person shop on the edge of town.

The custom upholstering business is owned and operated by 2005 Waterville-Elysian-Morristown graduate Dan Knish, whose intricate work has been featured at car shows, in magazines, and on television.

“I’ve always been a car guy, and enjoy doing what I do,” Knish stated. “It’s both challenging and rewarding.”

After graduating from high school, Knish studied automotive trim and upholstery with collision and refinishing at WyoTech then worked seven years at an auto upholstery shop in Savage. In 2012, he opened his own shop at his home.

“I was doing side jobs for people in my parents’ basement while I worked in the cities. Pretty soon, I got so busy with side jobs that it made sense for me to start doing it on my own, full-time,” he explained. “I worked in a one-stall garage/shop for a few years, then expanded that and finally after 10 years of working in the field, was able to build a 5,250 square-foot shop, which has now been in operation for two years.”

The shop comfortably holds up to seven cars. Knish has one full-time employee, Bill Schriefels, and a part-time employee, Karen James.

In addition to creating custom seats for motorcycles and reupholstering boat and snowmobile seats, the team builds entire custom interiors, including everything from the dash and seats down to center consoles and arm rests.

“We’re busy. There are about 10 cars on our waiting list,” Knish explained. “Most people don’t understand how much time it takes to design and build a full interior from scratch. It doesn’t come together all at once. There’s a lot of design time, taking things apart, and trying it again--making sure everything fits and looks right.”

Often times, the cars come in looking great on the outside, but completely gutted, waiting for the Knish Kustomz team to work their magic.

“Sometimes, people know exactly what they want, which is fine, but we’re mostly known for custom stuff, so most people just tell us to do what we think is best,” Knish explained. “If a customer is unsure of a design or an idea--or if I’m concerned about their color choice--I’ll draw up a couple designs or sew up some samples to show them. Usually, they go with what we suggest.”

Knish’s first big job was designing and creating a new........

To see more on this story  pick up the February 14, 2019 print edition of Life/Enterprise papers.

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