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Hochul tours Townsend Leather’s Stitch building

Written by corres2

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Townsend Leather Senior Vice President Tim Beckett, right, shows off a board room to New York state Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, left, during her tour Monday of The Stitchery building on Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Hochul was taken on a tour by Townsend Senior Vice Tim Beckett and other company officials. Beckett explained that Townsend Leather has a “global sales department.”

Prior to coming to the Townsend building late Monday morning, Hochul toured the Executive Group on Shuler Street in Amsterdam.

While in Fulton and Montgomery counties, she highlighted how the state is supporting job training, manufacturing and workforce development for companies across the state through various funding initiatives and programs. She also discussed how the state is working to build back better and strengthen our economy while we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is great,” Hochul said of The Stitch building, which not only produces leather materials but recaptures history.

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, right, is shown some of the prized cowhides being worked on by Townsend Leather Corp. employees during her tour Monday of The Stitch building on Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

The Stitch was opened for use in July 2019, but showcased in September of that year, as part of Towensend’s proud expansion. The family company at that time celebrated five decades in business with a 50th Anniversary Jubilee. The Townsend Avenue leather finisher celebrated not only its 50th birthday, but the opening of The Stitch — a renovated building at the former Diana Knitting Mill at North Perry and Grove streets. The three-parcel, multi-building connected complex had been empty for more than 16 years, but Townsend has brought it back to life.

Hochul was taken on a walking tour of not only the hides and production areas, but marketing, accounting and other leisurely parts of The Stitch.

Everywhere she went — from the cafeteria to the board room — she was greeted by a celebration of all things leather.

“”The colors are gorgeous,” Hochul said. “Everything is an attention to detail.”

One worker told the lieutenant governor of a certain job for Townsend Leather involving finding the best top quality 1,400 hides out of 8,000.

“That’s something to be extremely proud of,” Hochul said.

The Stitch, located at 4 Grove St., is Townsend’s new home for its sales, marketing, accounting, human resources and management teams and warehousing of raw materials. Townsend purchased the property in late 2017 and undertook a massive renovation project.

Stitch’s main entrance encompasses photos and mementos from current and former Townsend employees have been amassed to assemble a make-shift museum. The space further showcases the history of the local manufacturing industry through the display of the massive door from the building’s former boiler that was made in Amsterdam.

Throughout The Stitch original wooden beams and brick walls are featured prominently in open concept spaces being utilized for modern office areas and conference rooms. On the second and third floors the original wooden floors remain intact and Townsend purchased reclaimed wooden doors where called for to maintain the architectural aesthetic. Leather is another common feature of the decor in the form of large and small swatches, samples and photos of finished pieces Townsend’s leather has been turned into and fixtures and pieces of furniture covered in the material.

The need for storage space motivated Townsend to purchase the Diana Knitting Mill complex as the company sought a location to warehouse hides purchased from southern Germany, where the highest grade materials in the world are produced. Townsend finishes the materials according to contracts with designers in the residential, hospitality, contract, aviation and transportation markets around the world.

Hochul learned that the he building even has room for expansion.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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