Pet Age’s Alexandra Wepner spoke with Leather Brothers Co-Owner Steve Schrekenhofer about the company’s upcoming 40th anniversary and his experience as a business owner over several decades in the pet industry.
Alexandra Wepner: Tell us about the history of Leather Brothers.
Steve Schrekenhofer: Our grandfather, Michael Schrekenhofer, came over from Germany and was a shoe cobbler by trade. And our father, George Sr., picked up the trade when he moved to Conway, Arkansas. He owned & operated a shoe store/repair shop in downtown Conway for many years. We grew up working in the shoe shop and working with leather and are involved in the leather business today. We have been blessed with many loyal and dedicated associates, both family and non-family, that have worked with us over the years.
The company began selling mostly in state, but now ships worldwide and is one of the leading manufacturers of dog supplies in the United States. We started out selling to the hunting and equine industry, working primarily with leather making dog collars & horse tack. In 1985, we decided to focus on dog products. Today we work with many materials, and do a lot of contract manufacturing and private labeling.
Leather Brothers is one of the few remaining “cut and sew” pet product factories in the United States. Helping with the resurgence of American-made products within the pet industry has been a blessing.
We have been around leather our whole lives, working with our dad in the shoe repair business while learning to make horse bridles, halters, gun holsters and dog collars. Our expertise in leather will guarantee customer satisfaction and give customers the peace of mind that they are getting an American-made product from experienced and trustworthy people.
Leather Brothers supplies its products, bearing the brand name OmniPet® by Leather Brothers, to an ever-growing network of dealers and distributors. The company adopted the brand name as it became more diverse in the pet market.
The name Leather Brothers came about one night when Louis and I showed up at our parents’ house both wearing leather jackets, to which our mother exclaimed, “Look, it’s the leather brothers!” And the name stuck.
Alexandra: You have an extensive catalog of products, from leads and collars to bowls and chews. Which are your most popular products, and why do you think they’ve had such success?
Steve: Signature Leather™, Luxe Leather™ and Latigo™ are a few of our most popular and best selling product lines. The consistent quality, value and the fact that they’re American-made all play an important role in their success.
Alexandra: What are your newest products?
Steve: At SuperZoo, we will be launching several new product lines. One of them is Reflective Rope Leads with Brass Snaps. They are available in 4-foot and 6-foot lengths. Premium polyester rope has a reflective tracer woven into a strong and durable weave & sewn genuine Latigo™ leather joints make this product a must-have. They are offered in Red, Orange, Neon Pink, Light Blue and Lime Green, and are made in the USA.
In addition, Mossy Oak® Blaze™ Orange Collars, Leads and Harnesses are the perfect balance of safety and concealment. These are made with durable nylon and accented with sturdy black hardware. They are also made in the USA.
Lastly, Native™ Leather is a line of collars made with finest leather. Supple, durable and accented with black nickel hardware, they come in seven colors and in 10”-26” and ½”, ¾, and 1” widths. They are also American-made.
Alexandra: What is one lesson you’ve learned over the 40 years that Leather Brothers has been in business?
Steve: Treat your customers like you would want to be treated. Always be fair and honest.
Alexandra: What is the secret to longstanding success in business—or more specifically, the pet industry?
Steve: Always being honest, building strong foundational relationships with customers, and being open to change and new ways of doing business because the pet industry is constantly changing.