Century of Influence
Tandy Leather Factory Inc.
Tandy Leather Factory Inc.
1900 SE Loop 820
Fort Worth 76140
It only seems natural that Fort Worth, with its cattle industry history would be home to a company built on leather goods. And so, it was, 100 years ago that Tandy Leather Factory Inc., now the world’s largest specialty retailer of leather and leathercraft related items, took shape.
Not surprisingly, it was Fort Worth businessman extraordinaire Charles Tandy who pushed the company beyond its beginnings as a provider of leather primarily to the shoe industry and began with a catalog offering leathercraft goods shortly after World War II. The idea took off and before long Tandy Leather had 15 stores across the U.S.
In the 1960s, with Tandy Leather as part of the Tandy Corp., the company was part of Charles Tandy’s empire that eventually included RadioShack.
Through the years, the leathercraft company has now become an independent, publicly traded enterprise and is the world’s largest specialty retailer of leather and leathercraft related items, based on sales. The company primarily sells and distributes its products through 116 company-owned stores and its website.
In October 2018, the company appointed Janet Carr as its new CEO. Carr brings more than 25 years of retail, digital and omni-channel experience to Tandy Leather. Recently she was the senior vice president of Global Business Development for Caleres, which – taking this story full circle – was formerly Brown Shoe company.
“I am honored to be joining Tandy Leather, with its venerable heritage and strong market position,” said Carr. “I look forward to working with the talented Tandy Leather team and the board to guide the future of the company.”
– Robert Francis
When was your company founded?
Type of Business
Since 1919, Tandy Leather has been the resource for generations of leathercrafters, providing quality leather, tools, kits and teaching resources. Charles Tandy’s dream was to teach the world leathercraft, one person at a time. Whether you are a child or an adult, leathercraft offers fun and rewards to all that care to take the adventure.
The history of leather speaks for itself, dating back to the beginning of mankind when leather was vital for survival by providing protection against the elements of nature when animal skins were used as clothing and footwear.
Today, leather continues to be used for clothing; mainly for warmth and fashion but it goes way beyond those purposes today. Leather has captured the hearts of so many, young and old. We continue to strive to make Charles Tandy’s dream to teach leathercraft to the world one person at a time a reality with exceptional customer service, quality product offerings, and a welcoming environment that takes the mystery out of leathercraft.
What differentiates your company from others in a similar business?
We have the largest footprint of brick and mortar stores, where our mission is to teach and inspire the art of leathercrafting one person, one class, one community at a time.
Our competitors don’t offer a full range of products like we do. You can come in and get everything you need to make your project – not only do we have the products, but we have the people to help inspire you.
All businesses go through some tough times. What was your greatest challenge and how did you respond to it?
Under Janet Carr’s direction, we are currently undergoing a strategic transformation to propel our next 100 years of growth and profitability.
This transformation has highlighted that we need to overhaul many of our outdated and antiquated information systems which is proving to be quite challenging – we are all familiar with how hard change can be – to break from the mold of “that’s how we’ve always done it.”
We are addressing this challenge through improving morale with better overall employee benefits, augmenting our already super talented labor staff, and working to use more technology and automation.