GDE Leather

It is easy to find the premises of GDE Leather in Middelburg, for there, on the sidewalk in the main street, stands an American Saddle-bred in typical stride. Okay, it is only a full-size fibre glass model of such a horse, but a very good beacon for Engela Kruger’s factory.

Inside a wide range of products is on display, such as finely crafted saddles, bridles, straps, horse handling gear, handbags, shoes and much more.

It all started in 1989, on a farm in Olifantshoek in the Northern Cape, where Engela was a music teacher at the local High School. At the time they bravely battled a drought to keep their Karakul farming operation afloat. As a supplementary income she started a small tannery on the farm, and being a long-time breeder of American Saddle-breds, her little enterprise was later expanded to include the making of hand-crafted saddles.

This business was soon such a success that Gert and Engela sold their farm and moved down to Middelburg, where they established a bigger tannery in 1991. Today they employ 27 craftspeople who have received in-house training from the Krugers. Now they supply saddlery to discerning individuals and agricultural co-ops in South Africa and Namibia, plus traditional chair riempies to furniture makers, and leather wind-mill washers to farmers and agricultural outlets nationwide.

This firm was judged the 1996 Old Mutual Business of the year, while the covered title, National Entrepreneurial Business Women of the Year 1996/1997, was bestowed upon Engela Kruger by the National Council for Business Women. A visit to this busy country factory confirms the justification for these accolades.     

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