Amid a blistering August heat wave, Saybrook Home designers Chris Pinhancos and Cheryl Homan traveled to Dallas, Texas to visit the American Leather factory and get a first-hand look at the inner workings of one of our most popular manufacturers.
Chris recently took a moment to recount his experience at American Leather and share what he learned from his pilgrimage to the 350,000-square-foot Texas factory.
SH: We like to send our designers out on location to see where our furniture is produced and experience each of the manufacturers’ styles. Going into this trip, what would you say was your primary focus?
CP: I would say that I really wanted to get a good understanding of the craftsmanship of American Leather. For a company that has only been around since 1990, it’s amazing the growth it's experienced, not only in size, but in innovation, craftsmanship and technological advancements.
SH: What impressed you most about your tour of the facility?
CP: There was a lot to be impressed by, but I think what stuck with me was learned that each piece of furniture is physically handled by 20 sets of hands before it is sent off into the world. The inspection process at American Leather is top notch. Each piece is set upon a lazy susan type revolving pedestal, thoroughly inspected for defects and photographed. So you know, every piece that leaves the factory is in pristine condition.
SH: Was there anything you were surprised to learn about American Leather?
CP: I was pleased to learn that all their hardwoods are ethically sourced. Also, the selection of fabrics and leather was unbelievable. One thing that I was surprised to learn was that the majority of their leather hides do not come from the United States. Interestingly enough, they come from Switzerland and Italy, just because the quality of the leather skins is much better. Whereas in the US, we use a lot of barbed wire fencing that can leave scars on the hides, the cows overseas enjoy a more free-range existence, keeping their hides blemish-free.
SH: So, American Leather doesn’t exclusively make leather products, but leather is a huge part of their business. Did it give you pause at all to see all those hides that were once on a living animal.
CP: You know, at American Leather they look at it as recycling. Those cows weren’t killed for their hides. They became a food source, and their hides were then also turned into something else. So, in reality, we are being resourceful by using every part of the animal, upcycling the hides into a piece of furniture that will last for generations.
SH: What were some other takeaways you had from your visit?
CP: I think that I learned more about the versatility of the American Leather brand. And, it really becomes about educating the consumer about the beauty and significance of tailor-made American upholstery. American Leather is so much more than just sleeper sofas - though they do corner the market with the most comfortable one out there. With so many different options for fabrics, styles and configurations, us designers are able to offer our clients pieces that re-invent the spaces in their homes and that are oftentimes multifunctional.
I’m thinking about the empty-nester client that is sending a child off to college. Replacing a bed with a sleeper sofa allows that client to create a whole new space, while still having the option of using it as a bedroom when needed. There are just so many ways that the American Leather pieces can be used in a versatile way that make them so universally popular.
American Leather was created on the belief that three months is too long to wait for a piece of customized furniture. And, to this day, they still offer an incredibly reasonable turnaround time. Customers ordering now will have their new piece in time for the holiday season - perfect timing for accommodating out of town visitors.
SH: You also had the opportunity to check out their own showroom. Find any new favorite styles?
CP: Too many! I was very impressed by several of their recliners. They are so cozy and comfortable while still looking incredibly chic and classic. One style that we have on our floor at Saybrook is the Aston. It’s an amazing piece and I encourage all my clients to try it out when they’re in the store.
The comfort sleeper sofas are absolutely amazing as well. They totally break the stereotype of a typical sleeper sofa. You don’t ordinarily expect a sleeper sofa to be so comfortable in the seat. But, with recent advancements in the engineering of the seat cushion, American Leather has raised the bar for comfort in a big way. One style that I highly recommend is the Langdon Comfort Sleeper. It’s such a great option, even for small spaces. It requires zero wall clearance and can be disassembled to fit into narrow hallways or doorways. Overall, just a great option for so many of my clients!
SH: So, it was overall, a great visit?
CP: It was so much more than I even expected. I had the opportunity to meet the CEO, who was just the most impressive businesswoman, but also very down to earth and friendly. It was great to see the way she engaged with her team. It was very evident that the company values its most important asset - its staff - and that this translates to superior craftsmanship and, ultimately, customer satisfaction.
To book a design consultation with Chris, click here.