From the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, Milwaukee, Wisconsin was a powerhouse of leather production. At one point, it was home to several dozen tanneries, registering it as one of the largest sources of leather in the entire world.

Today, Milwaukee is a very different city, though a handful of tanneries still exist there, including the Seidel Tanning Corporation. Seidel sits near the banks of the Milwaukee River, and since 1945 they have produced specialty leather for customers of all kinds through four generations of family ownership. Seidel is a name that Stitchdown readers have likely heard of before, though you may not have realized how widespread the use of their leather actually is.

I sat down with a few folks from Seidel—Frederick “Fritz” Seidel Sr. and Frederick “Fritz” Seidel Jr., along with leather sales rep Charlie Holbrook—to learn more about the company’s history, its relationship with makers from Nicks Boots to Danner Boots, and how they go about developing their wide selection of fantastic leathers.

Whites Boots Smokejumper Lace To Toe Brown Roughout

White’s Boots made with Seidel roughout leather

Josh Bornstein: Let’s start with an easy one: who are you guys, and what do you do for Seidel?

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: I’m Fritz Seidel, Jr. I’m the fourth generation Seidel. I started working here in high school, started in the shipping department and then got booted to R&D because my dad [Fritz Sr.] didn’t really want me learning how to pack leather. He wanted me to learn how to make it. So I was running our sample coloring drums, and did that through college. When I graduated, I decided to come to the business and I started out doing our inventory, bringing in raw materials, and then slowly worked into sales. Now I guess everything I do kind of encompasses the full business.

Charlie Holbrook: I’ll add that I’ve been very impressed with [Fritz Jr.’s] appetite for the business. He’s really poured himself into it. He’s been incredibly nosy. You will be having conversations that really I don’t think he needs to be privy to and then all of a sudden there he is listening, learning. This is a pretty complicated business in a lot of ways. I’ve been in the leather business for eighteen years now, and I still think a lot of people around here view me as the rookie, because there are so many multigenerational workers here who, when they were growing up, the conversation around the dinner table was, “what’s going on at the tannery?” So I’m really impressed with the way he’s embraced his family’s business and I believe he wants to make a really serious career out of it.

Fritz Seidel, Sr. has a tremendous, tremendous amount of knowledge and really grew the business beyond maybe what Steve Seidel, Fritz Jr.’s grandfather, ever imagined it could be. We literally make like a thousand different kinds of leathers here. Senior’s legacy, I think will go down in history. You’re hard pressed to take the business to another level, because Fritz Sr. has done such an incredible job.

This is such a welcoming sign and to a lot of our customers, as well as the United States leather industry. The tanning industry has been just shrinking and shrinking and shrinking. There’s no doubt this building can be turned into a condominium. They could cash out and go their merry way. But I don’t think that’s in the plan at all.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Josh Bornstein: And Charlie, your title is?

Charlie Holbrook: I just call myself Leather Sales. I’m not not real big on pumping up who I am or what I do around here.

Josh Bornstein: I wanted to kind of delve a little bit into the company’s history. So you guys started here in Milwaukee in 1945, correct?

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: Yeah. It was started by my great-grandfather, Irwin. The original plant was down in the Valley. That whole area now is like high-end condos. Just kind of a bummer. It was a really cool Cream City Brick building and I believe they were making lining leathers or glove leathers…

Charlie Holbrook: Which is more of a low-end product. Not selection-sensitive at all. That was their niche.

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: I think at the time, or at least 1945 through like the 80s, there were something like 200 tanneries in the US. Milwaukee was the leather tanning capital of the world.

Charlie Holbrook: It was one of the industries that built this city. People think beer, Harley-Davidson. But leather was a huge part of it.

Josh Bornstein: Why is that? Why Milwaukee specifically?

Charlie Holbrook: Proximity to the stockyards and access to water. And they also, I think, had people who immigrated here and settled in, a lot of Germans. I remember hearing once that they took core samples of the Milwaukee Riverbed. I think in one section there was 10 yards of bovine hair…

Josh Bornstein: From all the liming?

Charlie Holbrook: Yeah. Because back in the day, the discharges went right to the river. That hasn’t happened in a long time. But it was a huge industry here.

Josh Bornstein: Gotcha. And Irwin, was he a first-generation immigrant?

Fritz Seidel, Sr.: No, his father, my grandfather, was. Irwin worked for Trostel Tanning, another tannery here in Milwaukee here. They were around for many years, like Pfister & Vogel was, and he was a salesman for them. During the Second World War, or slightly after I think, Trostel had a hard time transitioning from military leather into diversifying into a broader leather [market]. He was actually the salesman for the West Coast of all places. Anyway, hard times came along and he was let go.

He had saved up enough money at that point to buy into another tannery, which was Thiele Tanning. Helmut Thiele was a first-generation immigrant that came over along with his brother, and both of them had tanneries, believe it or not.

So at the time they were down in the old Pfister & Vogel real estate area. It was sort of the tanning district of Milwaukee. Seidel rented space down there. We had four floors. It was probably 40,000 square feet at best. And for many years we operated there. My grandfather got into the business in 1945 and ran it for until…I think it was 1950, when he died of a brain aneurysm one day. My father [Steve] was in college, and he came in and they started running the business.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Josh Bornstein: Your father, did he embrace that pretty well?

Fritz Seidel, Sr.: Yeah, he did. I’m sure he grew into it. I know it was really challenging the first five years, and their net worth was cut in half. My father said they just weren’t making good leather. They didn’t really have a tanner that was very good. So he got rid of one, and got another one, and the leather certainly did get better.

Seidel Leather Tannery Splitting Machine

The splitting machine is where wet blue hides are split down depending on the customers desired thickness. A blade passes through the side, generating one piece of grain leather and one suede split.

Going through the 60s, business got to be pretty decent, because there was a lot of cowboy boot business back then, and a lot of that was being done here in the States. This salesman, Fred Klimpel, developed a pretty good relationship with Justin Boot and Tony Lama, some of the Texas boot guys, and we were making a lot of lining and a lot of upper leather for the boots. Going through the 60s and well into the 70s, the lines started to broaden, going into government leather like Schott Brothers. There was a lot of letterman jacket leather. The shoe leather was pretty abundant, but these were all lightweight leathers.

Seidel Leather Tannery Pasting Unit

A look inside the pasting unit. Sides of leather are pasted to a glass frame and slowly move through an oven to bake. This allows the fiber structure of the leather to lock in place while the moisture is evaporated.

I mean, to make a leather like [we do today] was nonexistent for us back in the old days. We were still tanning our own raw material. The tanning going into the 80s got to be kind of challenging. The federal regulations got a little stiffer. Those things presented problems for us, especially in a rented space. So we actually started buying blue stock, where the leather’s been tanned already. Which is the way a lot of it’s done today. It was sort of striking out into new territory, because not a lot of tanneries would do that—you’re dependent on somebody else’s blue. But we did it, and it was a good direction to go. We were really sort of ahead of the curve.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Charlie Holbrook: So we are actually a retanner now. We don’t do [raw tanning.] If we did that here, it would be stinking to high heaven right now. We work with wet blue stock. It’s already been tanned just to the point of preservation.

Fritz Seidel, Sr: So at that point, we shut down our operation over there [in the P&V area]. We actually bought this building in 1977 or ’78. It was a derelict building, basically shelled out.

Josh Bornstein: Do you know what it was previously?

Fritz Seidel, Sr.: It was a paper mill. P&V was selling off their real estate, and we bought this building and started to transition the tannery into it. We were still doing a lot of lightweight leather, and continued to do that for probably another 10 years. In the 90s, that’s when the leather business really started to transition to Asia. The local government didn’t want it here. The big tanneries were really having a challenging time, trying to produce here and meet the effluent limits and there were a lot of pricing issues. Those tanneries went out of business.

As they decided to fold up or go produce somewhere else offshore, we were able to pick up local and national customers that were still demanding U.S.-made leather. We really did, I think, a good job of giving those companies the products they needed. And as these tanneries like Pfister & Vogel or Gebhardt went out of business, there were auctions where you could get machinery dirt-cheap.

So, at that point, it was sort of going out on a limb and buying some of the machinery that we needed to make the leathers that we were going to try to focus on in the future. So that’s how this tannery sort of developed. A lot of it got put together out of other tanneries.

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: Steven certainly grew the business through 30 to 40 years. I mean, he was a really great businessman.

Charlie Holbrook: I never really got a chance to work with Steven. But he was a dyed-in-the-wool leather man. He was in here long hours and on weekends, and he’d lost his sight at the end. Richard Churchville, who was Frederick’s predecessor as chief financial officer, lived in Milwaukee and used to drive all the way out to Pine Lake to pick Steven up and bring him into the tannery, and then drove him back home. He was just at Steven’s side, like the whole time, to the point where he actually got an equity stake in the business. He’s the only one whose name isn’t Seidel who got that, because he was such a dedicated helper to Steven.

Josh Bornstein: Part of the family, almost in a way.

Charlie Holbrook: Yeah, I guess you could say that.

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: I think Steven really brought the tannery through Milwaukee’s heyday of leather, up until the 90s when the largest tanneries in the country were here.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Charlie Holbrook: Pfister & Vogel was the largest tannery in the world, for instance, here in Milwaukee, and Gebhardt, Gallun…on and on. And then Asia just came and took all the wind out of their sails and [the Milwaukee tanneries] just started dropping like flies.

Josh Bornstein: So that’s kind of what the industry overall has been like for the last 20, 30 years? There’s just been a sharp decline?

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: There was a pretty sharp decline in the 90s, and I think it seems like it kind of bottomed out. A lot of the large tanners just kind of crumbled from their own weight. They were too big to have that kind of volume overseas. But there were still boot and shoe makers that were interested in making American-made products and really high-quality products, that were still interested in having domestic supply lines.

Charlie Holbrook: That made-in-USA movement really came on. And we have not—in the eighteen years I’ve been here—I don’t think I’ve seen it on the decline. I think it has leveled and is now on the rise, coming back, even though there’s only been one new tannery built in the United States of America in the last like 15, 20 years, down in Mississippi. But yes, we’ve been growing.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Josh Bornstein: I would be remiss if I didn’t also ask you guys how you managed to handle 2020 in the pandemic.

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: It was an interesting year. During the lockdown, we were able to run. We ran some military and law enforcement leathers, thanks to Charlie.

Charlie Holbrook: We were essential, so we could stay open. And dammit, we’re going to work, you know? And we did. But we certainly encouraged a lot of workers to take their vacation during that time period.

Seidel Leather Tannery Pasting Unit

The wet end of the tannery. Vegetable extracts, dyes, fat liquors, and waxes are mixed in vats before they are pumped into the tanning drums. The tanning process can vary from around 8 hours to 24 hours depending on the leather.

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: There were some furloughs for a time. But everyone who was furloughed for a little bit, they were asking, “when can we come back?” We have a very core group of employees. Some of these employees have been here for probably as long as I’ve been alive, which is kind of incredible. The core group of employees stayed on to work through it to make sure that the leathers that needed to get out did get out. When the city did open up a little bit more, we were allowed to bring everybody back.

Josh Bornstein: Still keeping it all going.

Charlie Holbrook: Darn right, darn right. That was kind of the attitude that I carried. I think a lot of other people in this building felt the same way. We wanted to protect our paychecks. We wanted to protect this company, this business. But the upstroke has just been huge.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: A lot of companies, it seemed, ran through their leather reserves. Last year, there was a big push to refill the reserves they had. Some of our customers, it’s like they’re doubling what they were doing the previous year.

Josh Bornstein: Do you feel like the industry has sort of seen a reshuffling of the deck, almost? Like these buyers are starting to look around a little bit more, kind of opening up their eyes to other tanneries?

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: Yes, I think I think people realized that maybe having one supplier probably isn’t the best thing to do.

Charlie Holbrook: Another thing that happened is, everybody was trying to be just on time, but nobody wanted to carry inventory. Now they’ve realized that business model doesn’t work so well, and they need to start stocking and safety stock. They want to have a full pallet sitting there waiting for them. The bigger companies want to have 10 pallets. At the same time, we’re bringing out some new customers, but our current customer base has been with us all along, the same group of boot makers and personal leather goods makers that I’ve been selling to. Now most of them are running like six months out.

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: I think it’s a good sign that there is high demand for good quality, and my hope is that those kinds of companies can continue to grow, and that people keep demanding that high quality product.

Charlie Holbrook: In my opinion, those boot makers out in the Pacific Northwest, they are making the best boots in the world, bar none. The quality is unsurpassed and people are willing to wait. And also, people are putting their lives on the line, like the wildland firefighters. Pretty much all of those people have Seidel leather on their feet.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Josh Bornstein: I want to dig a little bit more into how those relationships with a lot of these bootmakers, especially the ones in the Pacific Northwest, really started. It sounds like you were there, Charlie, at close to the beginning?

Charlie Holbrook: When I started, we were doing some [boot leather]. Right now, White’s is probably my biggest customer. When I first called on them, I was their gusset guy. It took a long while, but they were receptive. They were like, “Yeah, we’ll give you a shot.” They cut off a piece of what they thought was the best target [leather] to shoot for. “Man if you can make it like this and you’re at a competitive price and you have responsive customer service, we’ll put you in as a secondary supplier. Not the primary yet. You’ve got to earn that, but we’ll get you in and we’ll feed you some orders.”

But as you can imagine, it didn’t happen overnight. They’d go, “Oh, yeah, this is pretty good. But it’s too soft,” or, “Yeah, this is pretty good, but it’s too bright” or it’s got too many fat wrinkles, or the selection is not good enough. I was totally micromanaging those samples. I’d ask, “OK, so why am I not leaving today with an order?” I remember Danner was the toughest one to actually get going.

Josh Bornstein: How so?

Charlie Holbrook: I remember them showing me their shrink-wrap machine that they got in place just so they can be returning leather because they’re that picky. They totally graded and examined every single side. They don’t just take a sampling and go, “It’s good, put it in the bin up into production.” Every side. And we sampled, and sampled, and sampled, and it was going nowhere. They were wearing us out. I remember we had a salesman here who comes from a long line of tanners, his family owned a tannery at one point. He looked at me one time, said, “Charlie, you will never get that business.” I looked at him like, “I’ll be damned if I’m not going to get that business.”

I’ll tell you though, I almost gave up. At one point, I thought I had a sample that I knew was going to make it. And it didn’t. The break wasn’t quite tight enough, or it had too much finish on it. They do such due diligence with every side, and they have a spec for every one of their leathers, where they go through like 20 different aspects that it has to hit on, or it gets rejected. It’s very difficult leather to make.

I remember the last time I was in there with Black Waxy, which is now the biggest leather we make for Danner, and they rejected it. It was Larry Drake, who just retired this year, and he rejected it again. He just saw me sag, and I thought, I can’t go back and tell my guys we’ve got to make this again. We’ve already tried ten times, and we failed. And I remember he put his hand on my shoulder and he looked me in the eye and said, “Charlie, you’re so close. Don’t quit now. You’re so close.”

That was moving to me. We went back and dammit, the next sample made it. They got us an order, and they got us another order, and then another. And then that got rejected and came back! And then another. We took a lot of leather back. The learning curve was tough, but I’ll tell you, we got more leather to stick than came back. Eventually, it all started sticking. Then that opened up the door to more of their leathers.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: It comes down to what different bootmakers want.

Josh Bornstein: How do you feel like those appetites, those preferences for leather have evolved over the years with this relationship you guys have with them? Have they changed at all or has it been pretty consistent throughout?

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: On the work side some other formulas have slowly changed and more often evolved over the years, getting refined as the companies give feedback and say, “Can you make this?” Every leather evolves. You look at something like the Black Logger Oil Tan where slowly and slowly, that leather has become more bulletproof than literally any other leather here.

Charlie Holbrook: Things go back and forth primarily in temper. When I first started, we couldn’t make it firm enough, it seemed. I wondered, are you guys making ice skates, or are you making work boots? What the heck? [The leather’s] stiff as a board and they told me they wanted it firmer, firmer! But then that went the other direction, as people started complaining about carpal tunnel syndrome.

Josh Bornstein: They’re trying to last the boots and just breaking their wrists, practically.

Charlie Holbrook: Yep. Their throughput slowed down because the leather’s hard to work with. But then they go, “Oh, if we had softer leather, we don’t have these carpal tunnel issues, and we get like five or six more pairs of boots per day out of our guys.” So then it was softer, softer. Now it’s shifted back—firmer, firmer, firmer. That keeps going back and forth.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Crunch leather on the conveyor. Leather is placed on a conveyor to hang dry after vacuum drying.

I think also the leather sets have changed as these companies’ product lines have expanded. It seemed for a while there that the logger boot style, the firefighter boot style, was maybe losing some steam. There was some talk about how Asia was bringing in products that were lighter weight. For example, the old-school police officers, they like the leather belts and the leather holster. Whereas the young guys like nylon and lighter weight leather. That’s kind of trendy as White’s now are making chukkas and they’ve really expanded away from the work and hunting boots from when I first started. As their product lines have grown and expanded, that’s required different kinds of leathers.

Josh Bornstein: It sounds like it’s been kind of all over the place in terms of what the demand has been, although with a much more pronounced shift towards the nonwork, lifestyle leathers.

Charlie Holbrook: For sure. They’ve grown their product lines. But they have not forgotten what butters their toast—that sort of core business which is that heavy duty work boot.

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: But I think people see that they make such high quality work boots that they’re like, “Okay, can you make that kind of high quality but put it in a chukka boot?”

Charlie Holbrook: I have boots from all of ’em, and it’s always difficult when I travel, because I have to take a second suitcase to take them all, because I can’t walk into White’s wearing a pair of Nicks. They’re always like, “Do you wear those? Because they look like they’re still brand new.” And I do wear them, except I keep them nice because they’re so beautiful.

I remember walking out of Wesco with a new pair of boots one time, on my feet, and dammit, it’s raining! I’m going, “I’m going to take these off,” and they go, “HELL NO! They’re BOOTS, man! You can wear them out in the rain!”

You know, they believe in wearing them. I look at mine and think, these are special. I’m going to wear them to nice occasions. I’m not going to wear them to kick around every day. These cowboy boots [pointing to his White’s on his feet] are my kick-arounds. I wear them for motorcycle riding. But I’m not going to take a pair of, like, Nicks Roberts out and go slopping around in the mud, even though that’s what they’re made for.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Josh Bornstein: Yeah, lots of people do!

Charlie Holbrook: Yeah, I know. They’ll be like, “How do you keep the thread so white?” And I’m like, “Oh, busted…” because I only wear them like to church.

Josh Bornstein: Just gotta tell them, “Oh, I take a toothbrush to them every night and keep ’em sparkling clean just like my pearly whites.”

Charlie Holbrook: Yeah.

Josh Bornstein: It sounds like there’s kind of the core leathers, the ones that these guys are continuously ordering and using over many, many years. But how often do you get one-off requests and that kind of thing?

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: With some of the smaller makers, they’re always looking for the next best leather of what’s out there and go, “What can you guys make?” Our R&D team, they’re always making something new. They’re very good at hitting a color, or a feel, or a look. Some of the smaller bootmakers want to see the real variety of what we can make. They want to have a more diverse product line, or they’ll buy a load of one leather, and then that’s their whole run.

Josh Bornstein: So guys like Truman or Oak Street Bootmakers, they’re mostly getting the newer leather?

seidel double shot leather truman boots

Truman Boots in Seidel Double Shot leather

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: If they really like it, they’re pretty quick to jump on it. Like this is Double Shot [referring to a pair of Trumans he has just pulled out]. These were actually made with the first sample [leather] we made. We had time on our hands during the pandemic, and we were like, OK, well, we’ve got some pull-up leather crust. What if we did a full hot-stuffing and finish it up like our other pull-up leathers?

So we had this piece, and one of the guys at Truman was looking for some newer leathers. One of our other sales guys sent it out to him and they made a pair of boots with it and they loved it. From there we were able to branch off, make some different colors out of it. This is black walnut Double Shot. But we don’t really make this color for anybody now, we just have the oxblood, British tan, brown, and black and the light dark naturals that we make with them. So this is kind of like the exclusive color that we get to have.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Josh Bornstein: Then you also developed the new 1964 Brown leather for Nicks as well. Could you talk a little bit about what that process was like and how they approached you, or you approached them?

Charlie Holbrook: They had noticed doing rebuilds of some really old boots, the leather just felt different, heavier and felt denser. They can take it and kind of make a snowball out of it, if you will. And it was very slow to open up. They wanted to get a little bit of differentiation between them and their competitors, and to see if we could develop a leather that would behave like that.

So we went through a whole bunch of samplings and finally got something that they were interested in. I hope they’re satisfied with the 1964 leather because it was tough getting to. They wanted to have hot-stuffed guts. Like Horween Chromexcel and this [Double Shot], it’s all on a natural back, but because we have to pump so much stuff on the flesh side, it’s hard to control that color. All those guys want their leather to go both ways. They use it roughout as well as grain out.

With the 1964 leather, we couldn’t use some of the techniques we would typically use to get that hot-stuffed, completely juicy leather in there because we had to control the color on the flesh side as well. What they’ve got there is really special and unique, and at the moment they’re the only ones who have it.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Josh Bornstein: What leather makes you go, “I’m really glad that we made this. I think this is a phenomenal leather.”

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: I think every one we make is a phenomenal leather.

Charlie Holbrook: We make the leather that goes into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police boots, that’s cool leather. Our motorcycle leather’s cool. Our motorcycle category was the biggest: black leather, black, black, black, all over the tannery. We were making this beautiful copy-paper-white leather in a large volume for a company that did Warner Bros. checkbooks. They’d print Bugs Bunny. Or they’d make the purses, you know, how you can get a purse with your picture of your dog on it or your grandchildren? I mean, to keep that white leather clean and white when you touch it. If you just touch on this table, it’s going to put a dirt mark on it. It was an incredible feat.

We could only run it at certain times, like on Mondays, when everything was absolutely clean as a whistle, before we put any black leather down that machine on Monday and Tuesday. You can’t clean it up Tuesday night and expect to run that white leather on Wednesday. This all comes from experience, and because we had that experience, it’s the reason we can make so many different kinds of leather. But I don’t really believe we have a single leather we’re most proud of.

Josh Bornstein: Tell me more about when a customer approaches you and says, “Hey, I want to have a new leather that has this, this and this type of attribute.” What is that process like on your end? How do you guys go about developing this leather?

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: When a customer will say, “Can you make this?” I’ll send down some swatches of the different leathers that we have that are similar. Then it’s kind of cherry picking things that you like about those different leathers. If it isn’t one of those leathers that they’d like to take into production, then we say, “Okay, we’ll sample something and we’ll make something new here.”

Charlie Holbrook: That’s a basis for a starting point, to start the conversation, going, “Yeah, I like the color, but I don’t like the fact that it’s not penetrated,” or “I don’t like the fact that the break isn’t as tight as what I’m looking for,” or “The luster’s too bright,” or…they all have their little things. Like Wesco, they are obsessed with tight break.

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: To mitigate stuff like that, there are slight variations in the different tannages, so with Wesco, we do go a little bit more veg to try to get that tight break.

Seidel Tanning Leather

Charlie Holbrook: They don’t mind some of the other natural leather characteristics that may appear, whether occasionally you have veins, some scratches, and scars and things like that. They can work around that. But when it comes to break, they won’t budge. So if they come to me because they’ve got some bright idea…they sell a lot of product in Japan, and in Japan, all of a sudden a jacket will show up in this olive green. They’ll go, “Hey, we need olive green oil tan!”

I’ll be like, “OK, send me the jacket, we’ll match the color.” That will go for two or three drumloads of leather, and then it’ll go away, but it’s nice to have it. But I know for a fact their hot button is tight break. I know that Frank’s hot button is firm temper. When it comes to developing new leathers, you [need to] know your customer and their manufacturing process. There’s a reason why Wesco needs [tight break,] it’s part of their manufacturing process.

Josh Bornstein: They want the consistency.

Charlie Holbrook: They bend that leather hard, they crank on that stuff, and the leather will blow up if it’s not the tightest of the tight.

Josh Bornstein: You guys make the Domain leather, is that correct?

Charlie Holbrook: Domane (Doh-MAH-nee), actually.

Josh Bornstein: Oh gosh, really? Because I’ve seen it spelled “Domain…”

Charlie Holbrook: Yeah, but it’s pronounced Doh-MAH-nee.

Josh Bornstein: Got it. Good to know.

Charlie Holbrook: Domane is kind of similar to this [Double Shot] in that it has a natural back. Its sister leather is called Madone (Ma-DŌN). Madone has a matching or complementary flesh side, so they can do the roughouts. It’s basically the same leather, just dyed to have a matching flesh, and the other has a natural flesh. [Bootmakers] can order one mill of Domane and we’ll make a mill where the crust is all natural. Then they can finish it up with the brown, black or burgundy.

Josh Bornstein: Are there any challenges that you see for Seidel or the industry here in the States for the future?

Fritz Seidel, Sr.: I still see the environmental and regulation issues are pretty tough out there. Between water and air, there’s the government telling you to treat it right. And we do. I think that a lot of the retanning agents, a lot of the finishes have developed to the point where they’re not as abusive to the environment as they once were, and those are good things. That’s a continued development that takes place daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. The workforce is a challenge and insurance is a challenge. Operations in the United States is not easy. But everybody has the same problem here.

Fritz Seidel, Jr.: And then running out of space to make enough leather.

Whites Boots 350 Cruiser Distress Roughout3

White’s Boots in Seidel distress roughout leather

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