In the spring of 2000, I had a part time job working for Pottery Barn in Charlotte, NC as a warehouse employee and was coming off of my first failed attempt to enter the tail-end of the “Dot-Com Boom.”
Luckily, that summer I was approached by two gentlemen in the furniture industry to start a wood frame import company. The wood frame import business was a foreign idea, but it gave me hope that I might actually be able to start a viable business and not fail… So as I drove to my 10 year high school reunion that summer, the name Tiger Imports was hatched! I felt it had a nice ring of strength and importing, not to mention the Tiger was my high school mascot!
So I formulated the business plan, raised a little bit of capital by reverse trading my Audi TT for a sleek Volvo 850 station wagon. Thus Tiger began, but only a few weeks later did I get a frantic call from the gentlemen above, and I quote: “Frank, the frame business is moving rapidly to China and I am afraid that you will lose your… if you get into this business! Lackawanna Leather has just gone out of business! Don’t you know leather; people in Italy??!! Get your contacts and get into leather now!” Yes Sir!!!
So here I sit 14+ years later and boy has it been a ride! We have taken on the giants of our business in one of the most competitive markets in the world; high end Hospitality Design, and we have lived to tell about it! We have had many failures and bumps along the way, the downturn after 9/11, a large customer bankruptcy in 2005, the banking freeze up of 2007, numerous clients having trouble in the Great Recession, just to name a few.
We have emerged from all of the smoke as a stronger company, re-branded as Tiger Leather, and now feel that we have started a Revolution within the design community from Hospitality, to the Contract marketplace with fresh fashion colors based in our Italian roots, new cutting edge leather techniques like Infinitas Cleanable Leather, and brand new innovations like Fusion Tannage, the first 100% Metal Free/100% Earth Friendly leather ever produced. We continue to push the envelope on style design, as we provide 70 different styles in our shiny metal tin box set. We have and will continue to lead the style Revolution that is taking place within the leather market, and we cherish the role of providing quality, value and service second to none. Thus we say: “Inspire your clients with the best Fashion leathers in the world… Embrace the Revolution!”
I have never been prouder of our team at Tiger. Jenny has been with me since the first 6 months in business and has been steady for years. Maura, my CFO, and former CPA for Sara Lee has been a valued mentor and strategic advisor for years. Schuyler, who we sent in a car with no furniture to live in Las Vegas fresh out of school, and is now our valued West Coast and Asian VP. Hall, my nephew and college graduate who could not find a job out of school and has turned into a surprisingly good sales person/and our East Coast and European VP! Tracey, who steadily pays the bills and makes sure I sign every check and account for every Amex charge! Rob, my warehouse manager, sat freezing in our “new” warehouse in 2006 as we took an old Nabisco building and brought it up to speed. He has kept our leather flowing ever since. Jacqueline, our valued head of the sample team, has coordinated the production of thousands of Memo samples over the years. Brooke, our Customer Care team leader, has been invaluable and I am sure that if you are a client you love Brooke! Neal, our booth construction guy, can make everything guy, and guy that just gets stuff done; guy… I could go on for days about Vanessa, Travis, Lynn, Abby, Elliott, Roxy, Porsha, Jose, Laura, C.J., Denise, Shawn and the spirit they bring to work every day. Finally, we now have the best group of Sales Companies and Sales Representatives working with Tiger in our 14 years of existence. From Veranda in Asia, to oBEKTS in Seattle, to the Mint Group, and many more!