The rest of the story...

Here's where I tell you all the stuff that wouldn't fit in a 2-minute TV story.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Leather Man

Al Perkins
I read a fictional book once where a successful TV weatherman chucked it all to open a lawn mowing business.  His life was crumbling from stress and he wanted to get back to doing simple things.

Now -- to be sure, Al Perkins did not "chuck it all" due to a crumbling life, but he IS getting back to a simpler way of working, using mostly his hands, his knowledge and his skill.  It's something I think many people would envy.

Working on knife sheath.
Al learned leather working as a boy.  Not the kind you did at summer camp -- but the professional kind he practiced with his father in their shop in Lansing, Michigan.  Now he's returned to it after a professional business career.  How many of us hope that there is something we will be able to do besides golf, fishing and gardening when we reach "retirement?"
Some tools are more than 100 years old.

Al is using some tools that are more than 100 years old and still in great shape.  He has some newer tools and machines which make life a bit easier than back in the day.  As you watch him work, you can tell it's all second nature.

"What I enjoy most is working with my customers," he told me.  "I like to hear their need for something special, and then find a way to fulfill that need."

Some people his age are doing crossword puzzles just to keep their brains active.  He's rebuilding saddles, making belts that are as much art as they are useful,  (Well maybe 80-20 in favor of useful -- but they sure are pretty and definitely unique) and custom bridles for horses and holsters for handguns.

It's nice to see someone who seems to have figured out how to spend his days doing something he enjoys while still making what Al calls, "... a living wage."  As we baby boomers enter the retirement years we might be think about what in our lives could be to each of us as leather working is to Al Perkins.

The finished knife sheath Al began in our TV story.
To get in touch with Al you can visit his website.  E-mail him at or call him at 540.319.1378.