Human Resources and Retail

Brothers Leather gets new leadership

Founder will step away to concentrate on his recruiting company.

June 17, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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With new products set to launch by fall, Brothers Leather Supply Co. is changing its leadership.

Founder Adam Kail will step back from the leather goods company to manage the growth of his recruiting company, Harrison Gray Search & Consulting. He has hired Will Payne as director of growth and operations for Brothers Leather Supply.

Both companies have seen impressive growth since he launched Harrison Gray in 2013 and Brothers Leather in 2014, Kail said. With a non-compete clause expiring, Kail said he’s been able to add new clients to his recruiting company and will surpass 2015 revenue numbers by the end of May. Brothers Leather, meanwhile, grew 45 percent in 2015 and is on pace for similar growth this year.

“I love both businesses,” Kail said. “Harrison Gray is what I love to do. I love Brothers, too, but Will’s skill set to lead and grow the brand is far better.”

Payne is a 2013 graduate of Hope College and the son of Bill Payne, vice chairman of Amway Corp. Following college, he started a high-end fashion nonprofit called Style53.

Payne said Style53 wasn’t as successful as he’d hoped, and he ended the experiment after a year when he joined the staff at SEEQR in Grand Haven to help launch a high-tech explosive detection device. Some snags in the development delayed the release, and he moved on to Company Bell, a Grand Rapids marketing community, prior to joining Brothers Leather earlier this month.

“I knew I wanted to end up in the male fashion consumer goods side of business,” Payne said. “I was just waiting for that opportunity, and this hit. I’m excited to grow this brand.”

That growth will be on the back of a new product line that includes the best components of the first two years of products, he said. Since its founding, Brothers Leather has offered more than 60 leather products to 2,500 customers in 20 countries and all 50 states.

Kail said he’s refined what products Brothers Leather will continue to offer by studying the purchasing data and customer surveys. Now, for instance, instead of three styles and price points of leather bags, it will be pared down to one, while a canvas line will be introduced to offer a lower price point. He also said the full-grain leather belt, retailing at $65 when belts of similar quality retail at $100, will help drive the company’s brand in the men’s fashion world.

With a more refined selection of products, Kail said Payne’s first major mission at the helm of the company will be to get the products in retailers nationwide.

“Online sales are good, but retailers will really take us to the next level quickly, and I think we can get there quickly,” Payne said.

Kail said capitalizing on the flagship Brothers Leather store at 15 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids also will be among Payne’s top tasks. The goal for the retail shop, which opened during ArtPrize 2015, was to bring in approximately $10,000 for 2015; instead, it brought in closer to $50,000 for the fourth quarter.

“We have a huge opportunity in our retail store that we’re not maximizing,” he said. “Will’s going to figure out how to maximize that space and engage the community better with events and bringing in local organizations when they need to use some space.”

Kail said the company might look for a second, similar-sized city in which to open a second shop.

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