Leather Brothers, a Conway, Ark.-based pet product manufacturer, received the 2021 Governor’s Rising Star Award for Excellence in Global Trade Exporting. Presented by the Arkansas District Export Council, the award traditionally recognizes the exporting excellence and successes among Arkansas’ small, medium, and large enterprises. Winners of the award are Arkansas manufacturing or agriculture companies actively selling in international markets. Six companies received awards this year.
Leather Brothers has been family owned and operated for more than 45 years, and leather craftmanship still runs through the family blood as they supply quality products bearing the OmniPet brand name, said company officials. Many of the company’s product lines are made in the USA by a skilled workforce, and supplied to an ever-growing network of dealers and distributors worldwide, officials added.
Michael Schrekenhofer, account manager at Leather Brothers, accepted the 2021 Arkansas Rising Star award and trophy during the award ceremony on Oct. 13 at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock.
“We attribute all of our success to our loyal and dedicated workforce which has worked together not only to survive but to thrive during the pandemic. Each person on the LBI team plays an intricate role in making our team successful and is just as important as the other,” Schrekenhofer said. “We are a family here at Leather Brothers, and we couldn’t have made it through this trying time without everyone’s hard work and dedication.”
During the height of the pandemic, Leather Brothers utilized part of its manufacturing capabilities to produce personal protective equipment.
“We started making masks to not only sell, but donate to Arkansas Children’s Hospital and other surrounding hospitals in our community. We also donated to local churches and the Haven House to name just a few,” Schrekenhofer said. “We wanted to be there for our community, to the best of our abilities, during the turbulent and unforeseen times we were all treading though.
“At times, it was challenging, but we persevered,” he added. “Where mask production has slowed, pet product production has been on the rise! We thank God daily for our success in these times and give all Glory to Him.
“Being a manufacturer has given us the opportunity to grow and compete globally. Many companies that rely strictly on imports have been faced with severe supply and demand issues,” Schrekenhofer said. “We applied for the PPP loan, and were blessed to be able to receive this loan and use it for payroll purposes. We also retained our workforce throughout this trying time.”
Through his work at Leather Brothers, Schrekenhofer has had the opportunity to help grow LBI’s export business worldwide.
“We now export all over the world, including Canada, Mexico and South America,” he said. “Leather Brothers also has representation in the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan to name a few.”
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Arkansas congratulated the winning companies for their “innovation and entrepreneurship,” which he said has made Arkansas “a special place in the global marketplace.”
Gov. Hutchinson also issued congratulations following the event.
“The companies such as the six winners of this year’s Governor’s Export Awards give me plenty to brag about when I tell others about Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “They not only took care of business during the global health crisis, they took care of their employees. The entrepreneurial and can-do spirit as well as a resolve to look out for one another is in our DNA. COVID-19 brought out the best in Arkansans and was on full display in the leadership of these six companies.”