It’s finally happened… Kevin has passed the torch on to the next generation. On December 19, 2018 Kevin announced that he’s stepping aside and named Rusty Darnell President and Commander in Chief of Springfield Leather Company!
And no… it’s not because Rusty is his favorite. There are actually a great number of reasons why Rusty Darnell is more than qualified to tackle the undoubtedly daunting task of running a company as unique, diverse, and continually growing as Springfield Leather! Having known Kevin for 25 years and being married to Kevin’s daughter Lindsey, he’s no stranger to this business. In case you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t know this, Rusty has actually been an employee of Springfield Leather Company since 2008 and has worked in just about every department within the company.
During his tenure, Rusty has accumulated plenty of leather and leather processing knowledge. He’s taught himself how to make holsters, wallets, and cases, how to hand stitch, and he’s learned nearly everything there is to know about sewing machines. He’s even made shoes! He’s practiced and mastered the uses of dyes, stains, and finishes, as well as their various application techniques. Saying that Rusty has a vast amount of product knowledge, is actually an understatement. He understands the tanning process almost as well as the tanneries themselves. Like Kevin, he has also established strong relationships with our vendors, and he’s learned hands-on (from the best) how to communicate with them.
The leather/leather processing knowledge Rusty has accrued and the way he is able to articulate how Springfield Leather Company operates is extremely beneficial when it comes to making deals and buying leather! He’s been an integral part of getting many of the fantastic (and less than fantastic) leather deals we’ve been able to offer you. He’s also got a thing for machines… leather processing machines, to be specific. Rusty Darnell has introduced many different facets to our business over the years. The biggest thing yet is the ability to split sides of leather. Purchasing industrial machinery, such as a large leather splitting machine, was never something Springfield Leather had ever considered. Now here we are, splitting leather sides like we know what we’re doing, because thanks to Rusty, we actually do!
Rusty does what it takes to get the job done and is trying to steer us into the modern age. From laser engraving to automated packaging machines, from hot-foil stamping to CNC machinery, from increasing our in-house production to private label production to sourcing custom hardware and tools; Rusty has worked hard, alongside Kevin to bring us to a point that we are pretty much self-sufficient, and there’s even more to come!
It should also be said that it turns out Rusty does pretty well in front of a camera! He’s become a familiar face with leather crafters from all over by sharing his knowledge in our educational videos, alongside Kevin. So to sum it up, Springfield Leather Company now has a new, very well qualified, fearless leader. Congratulations Rusty.
WHAT’S KEVIN DOING? Many of you might be wondering what Kevin plans on doing with himself, now that he’s loosened his grip of the wheel. He’s still the OWNER of Springfield Leather Company. His role will be more along the lines of owner/consultant. But did you know that he is an actual rock hound? It’s true! He loves rocks! He’s been collecting rocks since he was a kid back in Iowa! He’s so knowledgeable, he can look at an unpolished rock and tell you what kind of stone it is. He (along with several other employees) go to Tuscon every year to buy rocks, beads, stones, specimens, etc. It’s actually pretty incredible to think of Kevin, who we all know for his leather knowledge and leather work, as the guy who can tell you the difference between agate and jasper, or if something is quartz or carnelian. He used to do some hand slicing and polishing back in the day, now he has a bunch of machines/saws that cut/slice and polish stones! A couple of those machines are BEASTS! They’re huge and make a ton of racket when he’s running them, but the folks on the Retail Showroom floor don’t seem to mind a single bit!
In all honesty, Kevin will keep doing what he’s always been doing… He’ll continue to help by utilizing his mind-blowing super power! He has the unique ability to make something much more difficult than it actually has to be. He’s had this gift for some time, but he’s spent the last few years really perfecting it! He’ll still come in every day; make leather bundles, help folks, answer his emails, answer the phone, talk to vendors, play with his giant rock machines, play the guitar, lace some wallets, play with his rocks some more, buy leather, sell leather, make ostrich packs, roll leather, buy some more leather. The only difference is that he might go home a little early some days, maybe spend some afternoons doing things he enjoys…like buying leather and rolling leather and selling leather…