BUFFALO, NY - Cameron Brown ’82 started his company 29 years ago on the third floor attic of his home in North Buffalo. In fact, he named the company “garrett” – an old English word for attic – to reflect its simple beginnings. Through hard work and determination, he took the business through the roof.
Today, Garrett Leather is the largest, independently owned wholesaler of upholstery leather in North America, doing business in 25 countries across five continents. Brown is actively involved as chair of the company, which employs nearly 50 people at the Buffalo headquarters (five are Canisius alumni).
Garrett Leather works with interior designers, upholsterers and manufacturers from all over the world to supply fine leather for automobiles, motor coaches and residential interiors, including the White House. High quality leather from Garrett can be found on the private yachts and jets for celebrities such as Jimmy Buffet, Taylor Swift and Harrison Ford and on Disney cruise ships and at The Grand Ole Opry.
Brown recalls working as a property manager, a delivery driver for industrial bearings and a house painter while he attended Canisius College at night, earning a degree in business administration.
“Earning the degree gave me a solid background for eventually starting my own company,” he says.
After graduating from Canisius, Brown considered a move to Maryland when a friend steered him to a job at an international wholesaler of Italian upholstery leather with a Buffalo office. There he went from unloading pallets to becoming general manager, all the while learning the ins and outs of the upholstery leather business.
Brown was married with a 1-year-old son when he set off on his own to form Garrett. He struggled at the start but some business relationships with Learjet and a furniture manufacturer in Montreal enabled Brown to capture more business and build a reputation as one of the hardest working people in the leather industry.
“I’ve always had a passion for marketing and sought to build a company that appeals to clients because we are very good at what we do while going above and beyond in service,” he explains.