Lesley Jackson has been working for Andrew Muirhead for the last 25 years, when we visited the factory last month we got to catch up and learn a little more about her role in the production process of leather.
Can you tell us about your role at Andrew Muirhead?
I’m a trimmer – I improve value for our customers. That involves, cutting all the loose and ragged edges, that’s of no value to the customer, to stop the hides jamming in the machines, make the hides look more presentable and cut back on chemical uptake when the hide is moved onto the next process (wet drumming).
Can you talk us through the process of trimming?
We take the hides from shaving, in batches of 30, 50 100, trim them, cut off as little as possible, put them onto pallets, then into the Kanban (where hides are stored between each process) then they go into the wet drums afterwards. All of our trimmings go into a large bin to get weighed so we know on average how much we’re cutting off. This can differ from wet white, wet blue and re-chrome tanned hides and this helps us evaluate our wastage.
What do you enjoy most about the process?
Improving the product. The hides have rough edges when they come to us and by the time they leave our trimming area they look immaculate and you can appreciate that further down the process, it’s going to give my colleagues on the other machines an easier product to work with.
What gives you the most satisfaction?
Knowing that the end product is used in some of the finest restaurants, offices, public buildings and Parliament as well as in planes, trains, buses, coaches etc. in the country. We had a nice one recently where our leather ended up being used in a competition run by The Furniture Makers’ Company, where the winners design was manufactured into Nursery Furniture for Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
“Knowing that the end product is used in some of the finest restaurants, offices, public buildings and Parliament”
And feedback from customers. When that gets passed back from management or you see read about it on social media pages, projects that have been worked on using Muirhead leather.
What one word sums up design for you and why?
Consistency. Being a manufacturer of genuine leather which gives us total control of the whole process, we are able to determine how the end product will look, feel and perform. We are able to design the leather for our customer’s needs and meet their expectations.