Historic Oregon tannery shuts down

| Print |  Email
Archives - July 2007
Sunday, July 01, 2007

{safe_alt_text}

DALLAS — Lisa Koloen hoped to see her daughter keep alive the family’s tannery but instead came to a hard realization. “Being a historic place doesn’t pay the bills,” says Koloen.

Muir & McDonald Co., the oldest of three remaining tanneries in the United States employing a traditional vegetable tanning method, will close its doors this summer after 144 years in the business. The tannery supplies leather to saddle makers in Louisiana and Texas and until now has defended its title as the oldest continuously running business in Polk County.

The vegetable method the tannery uses requires a four-month process that allows the tanner to start and end with one piece of hide, compared to other processes that can finish in hours. But the tannery kept with tradition, even until the very end.

The decision to close was a difficult five-year process, says Koloen, company president and the fourth generation of tanners at Muir. “The confusing and crazy part,” Koloen says, was that “the tannery had a lot of orders.” Despite demand, the rising cost of production for a small tannery operating in a world market combined with an unwieldy utility bill for the company’s 40,000-square-foot building forced the tannery to close down. “I love this business,” Koloen says. “This has been our life.”

Koloen worked at the tannery as a child, sweeping floors and painting fences. She remembers growing up and seeing the town’s businesses spring up around the tannery.

Koloen won’t be out of the leather industry for long. When she and her husband finish their current orders in the next few months, she’ll start with another vegetable-method tannery based in Pennsylvania, which has stayed afloat by employing more upgraded and progressive techniques.

— Eunice Lee


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Comments   

 
P.T. Dessero
0 #1 P.T. Dessero 2011-09-17 20:05:48
I bought leather sides fron this Tannery back in the 79's and 8o's. This company made one of the best leathers I used. I am sorry to hear this. I am retired now but still know people who are new in this business. I would like to be informed when they start there new adventure. I can be reached at email below.
Your truly
P.T.Dessero
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 Muir & McDonaldGuest 2012-08-18 23:19:24
Hello P.T. Dessero,

Both Lisa Koloen and Eldon Bevens passed away within the last two years. The Tannery is still in the process of being sold and likely demolished. Sad end to an era.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
+1 #3 RE: Historic Oregon tannery shuts downGuest 2013-01-13 02:36:56
I am living in the Kansas City aarea - but am from Monmouth-Dallas area. Have a nice new belt buckle that needs a belt - the custom shop here is a big fan of Muir McDonald, and has a small stash of leather that he thinks we can make into a nice belt. Sad this has come to an end.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #4 BeltGuest 2013-01-13 04:12:13
Glad to know that there is still a bit of leather out there being used. I hope you get a great belt out of it!
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #5 Looking for the new shopGuest 2013-03-03 03:08:24
Does anyone know if these folks opened a new shop?
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
+1 #6 RE: Historic Oregon tannery shuts downGuest 2014-05-27 20:51:39
I'm working with my boss on tearing it down right now and selling the beautiful wood from it
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Business partnerships: taming the three-headed monster

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 06, 2015
070615-businessmarriagefail-thumbBY KATHERINE HEEKIN | OB GUEST COLUMNIST

Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.


Read more...

Fueling Up for the Climb

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY GREGG MORRIS

Rita Hansen aims to scale natural gas vehicle innovation.


Read more...

Living the dream

News
Friday, August 21, 2015

smugglespearsthumbRenee Spears, founder and owner of Portland-based Rose City Mortgage, is hot to trot to sell pot.


Read more...

Quake as metaphor

Linda Baker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
071515-earthquakia-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.


Read more...

The Private 150: From Strength to Strength

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Revenues in Oregon's private, for profit sector maintained solid growth as the economy continued to rebound.


Read more...

Getting What You Pay For

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Chris Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology.


Read more...

Flattery with Numbers

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The false promise of economic impact statements.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS