Kenneth R. Gresham
Ken Gresham’s career in the sewing industry began in 1958 at the age of three years. Three is a very young age to begin one’s lifelong career, but his father, Ray, put him to work after an industrial sewing machine fell and broke Ken’s arm. With the medical bills being quite high for the time, Ray thought it would teach Ken good work ethics and he would learn a trade while paying off the medical bills.
Ken has had many career opportunities, being, at various times, a professional musician (drummer) and one of the world’s top competitive trap shooters. Many of the records he set while shooting stand to this day. Like everything Ken does, he strives to be the best and has proven it with the longevity and quality of one of the most successful sewing businesses in the country.
Ken has run Ray’s Sewing Machine Center, in San Jose, CA, since 1972 and has owned and operated the store since the early 80’s. He was one of the top salespersons and a repair instructor for Bernina for several years, as well as one of the top Janome dealers, in a single store, for the past 16 years. Ken continues to make most of the sewing machine sales at Ray’s, which shows how informative and caring he is with his customers and how hard he works to sell the right machine for the customer’s needs.
Over the years, Ken has lectured on business success for sewing machine distributors and the ISMDA alike. He has provided instruction and support on sewing machine repair to many sewing machine dealers. He never speaks ill of what others like to call “his competition.” He says, “There are enough sales to go around. All you have to do is find them.”
He has donated much of his time and many sewing machines to worthy causes that capture his interest. Santa Clara’s Bill Wilson Center for Children and Teens and a local Home for Battered or Pregnant Women have benefited from his generosity with the hope that those he helps will learn a skill that they can use to improve their own life.
Most people who have worked at the same job for 44 years would have gone crazy, quit or retired. Ken enjoys his work and is a good role model for those around him. He gave up potential careers in music and trap shooting to run a business started by his parents. He has made them proud.
2003 Vacuum & Sewing Hall of Fame Inductee