For four generations, the Martinez family has been fusing and perfecting all facets of leathercraft to create beautiful, functional, and enduring leather goods. In the process, that expertise and skill has been passed on from one generation to the next. The tradition that began over 80 years ago by the family’s great-grandfather in Oaxaca, Mexico is being carried on in Portland, Oregon by a new generation of leather artisans who have spent their lives learning the craft at the shoulders of their fathers and grandfathers.
Today, they offer a line of American-made bags, belts, and small leather goods that are informed by their Oaxacan roots, and crafted by hand in their Portland workshop. Using only the highest quality, American-sourced leather, and sustainable materials, Orox Leather Co. continues to refine their craft and develop new designs. They are committed to honoring their family tradition and offering products that will stand the test of time.
“As is common in small manufacturing businesses, all our staff members here at Orox are talented in their craft, but are not well versed in continuous improvement practices.” Says Martin Martinez, COO – Co/Owner.
They needed new tools and resources to help them manage their growth journey as they scaled the business. “As we began discussions with OMEP it was helpful to know that our challenges are faced by all businesses, no matter their size. It was a relief to learn during our sessions where to start, how to prioritize, and where to focus to be the most impactful.”
The Orox Leather team wanted to prepare for the future and better understand their company vision, product categories, and target markets while applying lean theory and tools to their production processes. As a family business, they also wanted to expand beyond hiring within their nuclear family and to create several new full-time roles.
“Everyone at Orox has a clear love and devotion for the business and the people who work here. It is clear to see. We want to expand and grow financially while maintaining our commitment to excellence.”
With OMEP’s help, Orox Leather designed and put into place clear and measurable career paths and growth goals for their employees, so that they can continue to invest in the diversity of their unique workforce. As in any workplace, change is challenging.
“An added benefit of working with OMEP was their facilitation of our discussions as we made these changes, helping us to communicate effectively and ensure everyone was heard. We’ve developed a new openness and respect as a result of those discussions.”
The team at Orox Leather also reorganized and remodeled their workshop and retail space with lean principles in mind, resulting in extra room for production and sales with clear visual management.
By setting up systems based on skills and knowledge of employees, they’ve built a model for the success of existing and future employees. As a result of their more functional workshop and retail layout, Orox Leather was able to decrease both work-in-process and finished goods inventories.
As the company continues to look towards the future, they expect a 20% increase in capacity as a result of their improvements. They’ve retained 9 jobs and are well on their way to continued growth for the future.
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“By setting a big hairy audacious goal we are now growing in the same direction, following the same mission, vision, and living out our values together. We’re thankful for the perspective OMEP brought to help us prioritize tasks and realize our growth visions.”