The decades long relationship between H Leffler & Son Pty Ltd and Astleys Leathers of New Zealand came to an end in 2008 when the owners decided to close the tannery. Until then Astleys' had been our premium supplier of veg tanned leathers, particularly those used for belting and saddlery.
The change in circumstances above forced us look further afield for veg leathers especially as local veg tanners were few and far between and their results were uneven at best.
Shoulders and Double Butts were found quickly; our Italian & South American belting leathers are now amongst the best in Australia. The skirting leathers were more of a challenge; we had tried for several years to obtain top grade skirt from Astleys but had never been happy with the results. Now we had a clean slate so we did our research and started from scratch....
All tanneries produce a mix of 1st, 2nd & 3rd grade hides. It's impossible not to as the tanneries purchase the hides "hair on" from the fellmonger so it's not until the hides are tanned and finished that their true grade becomes apparent.
And here lies the problem with dealing with just one "brand name" tannery and using their trademark to market it; Wicket & Craig, Caldwell Moser, Herman Oak etc, all produce hides in various grades and their agents are committed to taking all the hides that are shipped. This can present a problem... most customers do not want 2nd or 3rd grade hides, not unless they are at a substantially discounted price. This means the agent has to put a large mark up on the 1st grade hides and maybe "re-grade" the other hides to move them into a higher bracket. It's a lot of work and the result is that the end user can find it very difficult to obtain a consistently good product at a reasonable price.
Understanding these pitfalls we decided that we would not be "held to ransom" by a brand name tannery. We would start our own brand and instruct the tanneries what they needed to do to obtain our business!
Our demands were...
1) Deliver 1st grade hides every time or we would take our business elsewhere.
2) Prices must be competitive with other "mixed grade" leathers of other "brand name" tanneries.
3) No added costs included for marketing of their brand name as we would market our own brand.
4) Hides must be made from only USA or Canadian Steer hides.
Is this way the MOGAN OAK™ brand was born.
Today we hold significant marketshare in this sector. We have over 30 products in the Morgan Oak™ range and more in development. We have suppliers from all over the world eager to become part of our success; they can do so anonymously so to not upset their Australian agents. To gain our business any supplier must have a proven track record on the world stage.
We remain committed to purchase our leathers in this manner so we can continue to provide the Australia Saddler with top quality, well price leather, freight free, anywhere in Australia.
I hope this goes some way to explain the mystique about our premium grade MORGAN OAK™ Leathers.