October is National Manufacturing Month. Marion County has a wealth of diverse manufacturers, both large and small. Today, we are featuring one of our smaller manufacturers, who could also be considered artisans in the manufacturing world – McKinley Leather.
Back in the early 1990s, Derek Williams decided he was tired of traveling around the country to do sales. The product he was selling was custom made leather products. He considered what he knew of the business and decided he could open his own custom leather production company, specializing in binders and other portfolios products used by executives. Within six to nine months, in 1994, Derek opened McKinley Leather in Delaware, Ohio, where he lives.
After five successful years, Derek was tired of paying rent for the business production space and started looking for a building to purchase. Most of his employees were living in Marion, not Delaware. It was that factor that helped Derek choose Marion for the business location. From the late 1990s to today McKinley Leather has been located on Likens Road.
Today there are six people that work at McKinley, all are in production. As Derek stated, “The employees are extremely important to the success of our operations. They are proud of what they produce.” They also show that they love where they work by their longevity with the company. Most of the six have multiple years with the company, some up to fifteen.
McKinley Leather is unique in what they offer. They only purchase their leather from four or five U.S. tanneries or distributors. They offer free customization for their products, which includes stamping and embossing, with no minimum. As well as they turn around most orders to ship out in three to five days.
McKinley only uses genuine top-grain select grade cowhide. This is the outermost, smoothest, most durable, and flexible part of the hide. The natural grain is exposed to reveal characteristics that make each finished product uniquely different. This ensures minimal scarring and imperfections on the hides.
Eighty percent of their production uses this select grade. They also offer their clients an even better option in leather – English Bridle leather. This special leather uses the more traditional process of only vegetable tanning, which is more time consuming for tanneries to do. Though more costly, this leather finish will improve with age.
McKinley Leather products focus on ring binders, “padfolios”, photo albums, business cases, and accessories. Some are for personal use and some are for businesses. Some of their clients have been are Homeland Security, many different states’ governor’s offices, aircraft maintenance logs, financial planners, and many homes as personal gifts. They ship within the United States and Canada. Half of their sales are repeat customers, showing their love of McKinley Leather products.
Pretty much from the beginning, their sales have been done online only. Their website at mckinleyleather.com covers complete information about the products, along with photos, descriptions, and prices. They offer cleaning products as well. They are also available by phone.
When asked why they are named McKinley Leather Derek Williams admitted, “We were searching for a name and finally decided to use my middle name.” It is a name that has some authority and shows the company’s ties to Ohio.
McKinley Leather offers unique, quality leather products often only seen in large cities and in exclusive stores. They manufacture products people are proud to own. Just another example of the amazing businesses in Marion County.