About Paul Ford Leather
My name is Paul Ford and I've been a specialist in leather finishing, restoration and repair since 1982.
It all began when I bought a vinyl repair franchise, quit my job and set off to make my fortune. Now in those days, vinyl was very popular, and I very quickly mastered the art of invisible vinyl repair and colour matching.
How I Got Into Leather Restoration
One day, a car salesman said to me, "Paul, if you can find a way to refinish leather to look like the original, you'll make a fortune!"
Well, that really got me thinking.
You see, at that time, all sorts of different brews were being used to tart up leather. Things like, lacquer and linseed oil, boot polish, wood stain, and in fact, one guy even used watered down acrylic house paint!
So, in short, there was nothing around that was suitable for leather restoration which made the car salesmans' comments very valid.
Suddenly, I had a brain wave! Why don't I go and talk to the guys at a tannery and ask for their help?
Let's face it, if they made the leather, then they must have a successful finishing system . . . and maybe they'd be happy to help me, right? Wrong!
That's when I realised that the leather industry was very closed and secretive. Getting help was almost impossible. However, I was not giving up.
Learning The Hard Way
After many set backs and dead-ends, I decided to create a system using some of the materials I did have . . . vinyl coating.
I then called in the expertise of an industrial chemist who agreed to work with me. By using different additives to make the finish softer and improve the adhesion, we eventually perfected a system, which was almost as good as the original.
My reputation grew very quickly and I was refinishing leather in many different types of exotic cars. Now, this was before the 1987 sharemarket crash when large numbers of luxury cars were being imported into NZ such as Jaguar, Daimler, Rolls Royce, BMW.
Many of these cars had faded leather interiors which devalued them quite considerably. The reason they were faded was because, the pigments used in leather back then, were not fade resistant like they are today.
So as you can imagine, my finishing system was saving people a small fortune. Some time later, I received a phone call from one of the tanneries! It turned out, they had seen some of my work and were rather impressed.
Now, around that time, leather furniture was really on the increase and they were desperate to find someone who was capable of carry out their warranty work.
Help From The Tanneries
So, as you can imagine, I found myself in a very good bargaining position.
I agreed to help, provided they taught me the secrets of leather finishing and allow me to use exactly the same products.
Well, the rest is history. From there I built the business to the point where I was employing several staff.
We restored everything from leather lounge suites, yacht interiors, car upholstery, colour matching and finishing hides for furniture designers and architects, warranty work for furniture retailers, manufacturers . . . and of course the tanneries.
Time For A Change!
We then sold the business in the late 90's and moved to Timaru. The Auckland lifestyle finally got to us and we'd just had enough.
We bought a lifestyle block just out of Timaru, where we grow olives and, I have a large workshop where I continue to specialise in leather repair and restoration.