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Beginning with the inspiration from his grandfather's work with Irish horse collars, Roy Wengerd developed his own unique hobby with leather.
R.W. Leather began as a wholesale business in 1994 out of the basement of Roy and his wife's home. As the business expanded over the years, Roy and his wife, Mary Ellen moved to a larger retail and work shop space in January 2008.
The main focus, which has consistently been their specialty, for R.W. Leather is belts.
Roy explained that the handcrafted, tanned leather belts that he makes in the store are specifically unique and long lasting.
"We have many tourists and return customers all year round," Roy said. "People who really enjoy the quality of our belts."
It's true that the belts made at R.W. Leather are unique. Roy began his business as a hobby and although he had a few people help him along the way, he mostly taught himself the craft.
When customers and tourists visit the R.W. Leather shop they are able to take a tour through the workshop and learn how the process of making an R.W. Leather belt.
Roy explains how the leather is tanned from their dealer in Pennsylvania, its environmentally-friendly qualities and the embossing that goes into each specific belt.
Roy also provides a demonstration of how he makes each belt.
In an article that Mary Ellen wrote for the November 2010 issue of "Ohio Amish Country Guide," she explained that "Our belts consist of English Bridle leather which is already drum dyed at the Tannery for better color penetration. Some of our belts are also still cut by hand."
The benefits of owning a R.W. Leather belt are great. Not only do customers receive a story behind the process and a personable visit to Holmes County, but also they receive a product that lasts.
While in the store, a customer remarked that he was wearing the same belt he had purchased on a previous trip to R.W. Leather, which was several years ago.
"Customers build up over time," Roy said, "and it pays off to take care of them."
And take care of them they do.
With each visitor that walks through the door, Roy and Mary Ellen are sure to provide the quality and service they strive so much for.
Also, each belt is customized for each individual before they are purchased.
There is a wide variety of styles, widths and colors available for people to choose from.
Different designs include "stitched dress belts, heavy leather work belts, ranger belts, money belts, women's belts and many different embossed designs."
Roy explains that when he first began the business a lot of it was trial and error, seeing what worked and what didn't.
However, those trial and errors have helped him learn his craft and produce a product that he and his wife can guarantee with confidence.
Along with the large selection of leather belts that are available at R.W. Leather, there is a wide variety of other products which include: purses, keychains, wallets, coasters, slippers, shoelaces, money clips, checkbook covers, change purses (some of which Mary Ellen designs herself), sunglass cases, cell phone cradles, belt buckles, fanny packs, bracelets and much more.
RW Leather is located at 4415 CR 114 in Sugarcreek. Their store hours are Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with tours running all day. For more information call and leave a voicemail at 330-852-3801.