Dave Axline is a third generation owner of West Side Sewing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. West Side Sewing was started in July of 1927 by Dave’s grandfather, J.C. Axline. At that time, J.C. and his wife represented the Free Sewing Machine Company and the New Home Company. More of their sales were used machines than new. Many of the sales were bartered with the farming community with payment in eggs, poultry, meat, etc.
Dave’s father, F.C. Axline, after graduating from high school in 1933, worked in the shop during the day. At night he worked in a local factory as a machinist. In 1952 F.C. and his wife bought West Side Sewing from J.C. During their years in business they sold Graybar, New Home, Domestic, Necchi, Elna, Viking and White sewing machines.
During the 10 years following Dave’s graduation from high school, he attended the University of Iowa part time and worked full time for the Square D Company in Cedar Rapids. As a tool design engineer and eventually head of a profit improvement department, he was involved in manufacturing process and product research. Dave graduated from the University of Iowa in 1970 with a degree in industrial management and a minor in mechanical engineering.
In 1973, Dave bought West Side Sewing from his father and left the Square D company. Dave and his wife, Penny, expanded the sewing machine business by adding a fashion fabric center in 1981, more than doubling the size of the building. The fabric business was limited to fashion and bridal goods to avoid the problems with profitability often characteristic of competing with the “chains.”
In 1983, Dave and a good friend who is a computer software designer developed a software program for the sewing machine retail business called Sew/Vac Partner. Its value is based solely on expanding retail sales through the use of a data base made up of all customers in every department of a business and sewing groups and clubs in the area. Several of these programs are being used around the country by successful dealers. At West Side Sewing, more than 40% of sales are generated by this program at much lower cost than media advertising.
1995 Sewing Hall of Fame Inductee