What is your first memory regarding the factory?
I think that my first memory is related to the Sunday morning walks after church, through the pit yard in the tannery, in order to check / control the tanning liqueurs. That is one of the first images that come to my mind.
How hard was to cope with 1944 destruction of the building?
Very hard. This indeed has been a very difficult task in the history of the company, since after the Second World War there was no money left and my father had to “buy” construction materials in barter – leather against other materials. It was a period of time that kind of tested our endurance.
Sadly most of the traditional tanneries are now gone. Despite the demand of industrial products what were the key factors of this process?
I think that the element that made the tannery survive was my father’s decision to focus on premium quality leather, because we are special – hardly anyone is tanning leather in the old traditional way that we do it in Trier anymore, because it is expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient. We can assume, however, that had we not stayed with this decision, we might have been gone, like many others.
How many stages are necessary for a hide to become a final product?
There are several stages that are necessary. First of all, one needs to make a selection of the raw materials, to decide which one fits best the concept of the product. After the selection is completed, the next step is the preparation in a water workshop and the choice of natural tanning agents. Maybe you didn’t know, but the natural long-term tanning process can take up to nine months. Also, after tannage, certain adjustments may be made. The final steps are the selection of leather and the cutting into soles.
How is the selection of leather made? How hard is to find good leathers?
We work exclusively with first class raw material from Europe’s best and most expensive provenance, and we also subject the entire production process to a stringent quality control. However, due to various reasons, purchasing quality and quantity of raw materials becomes more and more difficult nowadays.
What is the key ingredient in converting hides into leathers? What is the tanning agent?
First of all, in the tanning process we use natural tanning agents, such as barks and fruits: oak bark, spruce bark, Mimosa and Valonea. The second element is patience. You need patience in this process, because a completely natural tanning process, as I said before, may take up to nine months in order to complete.
What about JR soles?
There are some key characteristics about JR soles, that support their good name: the high respiration activity, an extremely long life and durability, stability combined with flexibility in all parts, water resistance, due to natural hydrophobing, the specific light weight, the typical natural and elegant grain, due to the purely natural tanning process.
Is there quality difference between the final products?
Normally there is no quality difference between the final products, since every step of/in the production is subjected to strict quality control. We pay a lot of attention to all the details related to the workflow.
Years ago thick soles were very much appreciated. Now people favor flexible soles. From your point of view how did the people preferences evolve over the years? Do you now have products that are now longer required by the market?
Well, I believe that changes depend on fashion and on the behavior of customers. Nowadays firm leather is less required, people are more and more asking for flexible leathers, like for example for penny loafers and the modern types of shoes. After all, it’s all a matter of evolution of necessity.
Tel me more about the laser technology introduced in 1996. How does it help you?
The laser technology introduced in 1996 is of a great help, mainly because it ensures a more precise measuring of the thicknesses, for even better results – which makes things easier for the employees, and, of course, even better for the customer. The precision provided by laser cannot, obviously, be peered by the human eye.
Which shoe factories did you supplied over the years?
We supplied most of the main factories throughout the whole world. As it appears, the request for our products, given their high quality, is quite a serious one.
What is your favorite shoemaker and why?
I don’t have a favorite shoemaker; it’s difficult to choose one because each of them is doing a great job in his/their own specific way of building shoes.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)?
Positive thinking and behavior.
What turns you off?
Windbags (= Schwätzer)
What is your favorite curse word?
What sound or noise do you love?
What sound or noise do you hate?
What profession would you not like to do?
Pastor or Teacher.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?