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Local’s tailor-made success

Business owner creates niche for his company, J. David’s Custom Clothiers, based on customer service

Posted: February 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.

David Guenther, president of J. David’s Custom Clothiers, left, and Dr. Chace Unruh, a Valencia-based chiropractor, look through fabric swatches at Guenther’s store at The Patios at Valencia Town Center on Friday. Guenther purchased the business that became J. David’s in 1988.

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Located in the Santa Clarita Valley for 28 years, J. David’s Custom Clothiers recently moved to a new location at The Shops at the Patios in the Westfield Valencia Town Center Mall.

J. David’s features tailoring and custom clothes and fabrics. In addition to the retailer’s focus on custom-made suits, sport coats, slacks and dress shirts, J. David’s offers a selection of in-stock clothing.

J. David’s got its start in 1988, when owner David Guenther met with his boss, Larry Parker of Parker’s Menswear, to give his leave of notice to attend the sheriff’s academy.

Guenther, age 46, said it was at this same meeting that Parker approached Guenther with a proposal to buy his company of six men’s clothing stores. Guenther seized the opportunity and reopened the Valencia store, renaming it J. David’s.

The thing that stands out about J. David’s is the store’s focus on service, store manager Aaron Weber said. The retailer also emphasizes the customer experience by providing a seating area with sofa, fireplace, television and even offering something as simple as water to a customer.

“We’ll even fly anywhere to assist a customer’s tailoring needs,” Weber said. “There are always options and we will do anything in our power for our customers.”

Professional athletes
In the 28 years of business, J. David’s has expanded nationwide through reputation and referrals. What started as a service for a long-time customer who moved out of state turned into clothing clients such as sports managers and professional athletes.

“We are fortunate to have built a reputation and goodwill with our customers and other companies. I have customers in over 30 states,” Guenther said.

Some of J. David’s customers include athletes such as Dave Winfield, Gary Sheffield, Chuck Osborne, Rick Burleson, Jim Slaton, Ellis Valentine and Royce Gracie.

“Six or seven years ago, I delivered suits for the Pittsburg Pirates manager at PNC Park, the Pirates’ stadium,” Guenther said. “While I was there, he set up an office for me, and 19 of the players came to be outfitted.”

Guenther met baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield by accident.

Guenther said he had been invited to a private party in a Beverly Hills restaurant owned by Keyshawn Johnson at the time.

As the guests exited the restaurant, the limousines scheduled to provide rides home were nowhere to be found.

Winfield asked Guenther if he would mind giving him and his wife a ride home, Guenther said. So he did. During the drive, the two discussed Guenther’s clothing business.
“The next day Winfield called and asked if I would make a suit for him to wear at his Hall of Fame induction,” Guenther said.

Guenther tailor-made the suit, and today has an autographed photo hanging in his store of Winfield wearing the suit in the 2001 ceremony. Since then, he has built a steady trade of supplying suits to professional athletes around the country.

“With professional athletes, people are always trying to get to those guys,” said Guenther. “I built a reputation on fair and total service. I treat them with that same respect as everyone. I treat them as normal people.”

Baseball scout
Guenther has a few other interests up his custom-tailored sleeves, as well.

“I had been a professional baseball scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates for seven years,” said Guenther. He had to stop scouting in February 2008, when he suffered a medical emergency.

Just recently, he was offered the opportunity to work with the Cincinnati Reds as a pro scout, Guenther said, giving him an opportunity to get his foot back in the door.

Guenther has also spent the last 15 years working as an official scorer for the Lancaster JetHawks, a minor league team affiliated with the Houston Astros, and was inducted into that team’s hall of fame last year.

Brain aneurism
Three years ago, Guenther suffered a brain aneurism and was given a 2-percent chance of living.

After 29 hours of surgery at UCLA, he was not expected to know how to speak or walk.

Despite this, Guenther made a full recovery and did not suffer any speech or coordination impediments.

“I didn’t know if I could still be in this industry. But because I survived, God clearly had a plan, and I knew I had to be open to whatever opportunities arose,” Guenther said.

It was during Guenther’s recovery that Westfield management approached him with a business proposal to lease a space in The Patios.

“I saw that David Guenther was running a great business, and I wanted to allow more exposure for him,” said Howard Durchslag, Westfield vice president of leasing.

Having J. David’s at the mall should be a benefit for both parties, Durchslag said.

“It will help bring additional traffic to J. David’s, and for us it will bring all those clients that wouldn’t normally come to Westfield Valencia.”

Giving back
During the time of his recovery from the brain aneurism, Guenther said, his clients would call into J. David’s and offer to make deliveries or pick up items for the business.

Guenther was “so overwhelmed by their generosity and willingness to help” that he wanted to give back.

He intends to donate suits worth more than $1,000 to 50 out-of-work men.

In addition to this $50,000 donation, he hopes to create a forum where men can submit a resume to several of his clients and potentially land a job.

“I wanted to help people like those who helped me, and I can do that by doing what I do best: making people look great,” Guenther said. “I can make an impact, and with this donation, I could potentially change someone’s life for the better.

“I can’t guarantee 50 jobs, but I can guarantee that their resumes will be specifically looked at.”

The details of the donation are currently in progress, but he plans to release the information some time in the near future, he said.

“Throughout all of this, I have such an appreciation for the community, and that is one of the reasons why our store focuses so much on customer service,” Guenther said.

“People can spend their money anywhere they choose, but it is an honor if they choose to spend it with us.”

Noelle Chadbourne is an intern for The Signal. A resident of Santa Clarita and graduate of William S. Hart High School, Noelle is currently a junior at Gonzaga University in Washington, majoring in journalism and history.

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