by Liisa Andreassen
It was in 1902 that the Pecard Chemical Co., Inc. first got its start as a small family-owned business in northeastern Wisconsin. Since then, it’s gone through several changes, but it’s commitment to service and quality has never wavered. Pecard remains a trusted name for the treatment, preservation and weatherproofing of leather.
All in the family
The company’s founder, Phil Pecard, experimented with formulas to protect, restore and seal leather gear. The first product, “Never leak,” was created to protect lumberman’s boots. The product lived up to its name and soon word got out. In fact, in 1928, Pecard made leather dressing history when Admiral Richard E. Byrd chose Pecard Leather Dressing to protect his crew and their gear on the first expedition to the South Pole. It was the only leather care product chosen by the crew of “Operation Deepfreeze,” a series of explorations across the Arctic Circle. A plaque hangs in the company’s vestibule today.
After World War II, Pecard built a factory in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area and then, in 1954, sold to another family man, Arthur Wadzinski. Over the next 20 years, the business continued to expand and evolve. Arthur’s family, which was comprised of six children, all grew up working in the business during their formative years.
During these years, product formulas were refined, patented and legally protected. New formulas were developed. A “Never Leak” Duck logo was trademarked. In 1975, a larger manufacturing plant – one that boasted 5,600 square feet – was built. A one-man operation was now a full-service facility.
Upon retirement, Arthur sold the company to his son, Steven, who ran the business until his unexpected passing. At this point, one of Steven’s brothers, ironically named Phil, bought the business from Steven’s estate in 2009.
“When I took over the business, I started making personal sales calls to some of the company’s private label customers and quickly learned that we were not merely considered a vendor that supplied products, but a partner who they trusted,” Phil says. “That’s something I’ve carried with me and continue to strive towards today.”
Today, Phil’s daughter works with him in the office and his wife, Beth, and older sister, Patricia, are on the board of directors. They have five full-time employees.
Since Phil has owned the company, he says the greatest change he’s made to the business is adding additional production equipment, coordinating raw materials purchased for larger minimum order quantity requirements, adding a few cleaning accessories that complement the leather care products and trying to stay on top of marketplace trends.
“There’s a big boom in the artisan niche,” Phil says. “For example, we’re working with small shoe manufacturers and a company that makes bullwhips. We continue to find places in niche markets.”
On average, Pecard keeps about $200K of raw materials in stock. This includes containers, caps, lids, packaging and labels used to manufacturer their products. The amount that it has on hand varies depending on incoming orders, but it keeps an adequate inventory of Pecard-branded product ready for immediate shipment or customer/dealer orders.
“Anything larger, we request for a four-week turnaround because we make everything by hand to order,” Phil says.
Phil says that trying to manage his time in an efficient manner is also a challenge, along with keeping on top of regulatory compliance which is ever changing.
“Being a small business, we wear a lot of hats so making sure our energy is used productively has been the best way to maximize proficiency,” he says. “You never know what you’re going to be doing from day to day.”
For example, the day I talked with Phil, he was trying to arrange transportation for inbound supplies and working on invoices.
“Paperwork is a bit of a nemesis,” he laughs.
While juggling jobs poses challenges, Phil says what he enjoys most is talking with customers, hearing their stories and helping them to select the right products to condition, preserve and protect.
When Phil does find a little free time, he enjoys motorcycle touring and spending time with his wife of 25 years (though he’s known her for 40) and his family and friends.
Pecard’s Leather Dressing is the company’s top-selling product followed by its Antique Leather Dressing. Both are popular in many niche markets, especially among tradesmen, artisans, vintage leather aficionado’s and restorers.
“We’ve streamlined our product offerings to simplify customer options,” Phil says. “We’ve also added mini leather care kits to make sampling our products easier, cleaning/polishing cloths, a brush for general cleaning of leather, another for Suede and Nubuck leather and added a foaming leather cleaner.”
The company purchases its ingredients directly from manufacturers or through their distributors and it sources its beeswax locally and tries to support other local business. Except for a specialty closure, all of its packaging, containers, labels and raw ingredients are purchased within the U.S.
“We formulate most of our products in-house with some help from third-party vendors,” Phil says. “And, since we still implement the same high-quality standards and ingredients that Phil Pecard implemented in 1902, we value quality over quantity. Our products are handcrafted with great care.”
What’s on the horizon? Phil continues to look for outlets that will allow growth of its Pecard-branded products.
Currently, Pecard sells its products all over the world through its dealer and distributer network or via e-commerce channels, if unavailable at brick-and-mortar locations. The website has an informative FAQ section, which answers questions about which products work best for specific applications and how to tell the difference between vinyl and leather.
For more information: pecard.com/
The proof is in the products
Robert Dante, a professional bullwhip artist, four-time Guinness World Record holder, and author of “Let’s Get Cracking! The How-To Book of Bullwhip Skills,” uses Pecard on his own whips and happily recommends it to others.
The Motorcycle Riders Club of America gave Pecard their Seal of Approval for its Motorcycle Leather Dressing and Motorcycle Black Weatherproof Dressing, averaging a 96% approval rating.
Leather for a lifetime
Pecard leather products help you treat your leather so it remains supple and conditioned for a lifetime:
- Weatherproof your work boots, hunting or hiking gear
- Protect your tack and saddle and keep your carriage in show condition
- Condition your ball glove to keep it in the game for years
- Clean, restore or revive a fine leather item
- Keep your furniture, car and motorcycle leather in tip-top shape