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Ford donates leftover leather to Detroit companies that employ veterans, abuse survivors

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

Two local businesses with charitable aims received deliveries of the hides.

Ford’s campus of the future will eliminate the need for Ford to continue to be spread out in 90 separate buildings in the Detroit area. Before building can begin, the company’s product development center has to ready for demolition. That means removing machinery (new and old), finding new homes for old prototypes, and cleaning out the basement.

Some of the products are going to new homes where they’ll see new life. Recently, workers stumbled upon $100,000 worth of leather hides. The assortment, according to Ford, was allocated for use by the color and materials design and fabrication teams to create interior prototypes for vehicles including the Ford Escape and Ford Explorer. Some of the materials are more premium than others and belong to Ford F-150 King Ranch and Lincoln Black Label Navigator models. They are colored in Ebony, Cashmere, and King Ranch Red, among other colors.

Ford leather donation

The basement of Ford’s design facility housed a number of leftover hides.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford leather donation

Traditionally, when color and materials designers order leather hides to build seat and interior prototypes, they order extra for trim, seat patterning and creative exploration. Extra hides are needed in case mistakes occur or new ideas are explored, so often there is a small surplus left over.

Instead of chucking them, Ford has decided to donate the hides to two Detroit businesses.

“This is a unique situation where we are able to donate bundles of real, automotive-grade premium leather to small businesses in Detroit,” said Jim Conner, 3D process director. “We’re excited to see these leather hides that were collecting dust in the basement be put to good use by impactful businesses in the community.”

Ford Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford, identified two small businesses that would benefit from the hide donation – Pingree Detroit and Mend on the Move. Pingree Detroit is a worker-owned, social impact company founded in 2015 that uses high-quality leather reclaimed from the Detroit auto industry to make boots, wallets and drink coasters. The company employs veterans and Detroiters to help them earn a living wage and learn skilled trades. Mend on the Move is a nonprofit social enterprise that employs women survivors of abuse in Metro Detroit. The women earn an income creating jewelry and leather goods to help promote independence and healing.

“As an emerging worker-owned design and manufacturing cooperative born and raised in Detroit, relationships continue to be our strongest currency,” said Jarret Schlaff, co-founder and CEO of Pingree Detroit. “This donation and the ongoing support by Ford make all the difference for our team of veterans and Detroiters as we work to create products and solutions that make our neighborhoods stronger.”

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