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SBA/ESD STEP Grants let Garrett Leather Stay True to Its Vision


 International Relationships Key for Putting Buffalo Firm on Top 

 BUFFALO, NY – For Garrett Leather the U.S. Small Business Administration and Empire State Development State Trade Expansion Program, (STEP) has allowed vital access to international contacts and expanded outreach to several countries. 

The Buffalo-based firm provides high-quality leather to interior designers, upholsterers and manufacturers. Garrett Leather provides products for use on private and corporate airplanes, corporate, hospitality and residential interiors, luxury motorhomes and private yachts. Most notable clients include Gulfstream, Learjet and the White House! 

It’s always tough to come up with a business name. Cameron started Garrett in the attic of his house and instead of naming the company “Brown Leather” and pigeonholing the company into one color range he used the old English word for the attic, the ‘Garrett’. “The attic is where I started my firm over 30 years ago in the Elmwood Village area of Buffalo, before it was the trendiest neighborhood in Buffalo,” says Cameron. 

This year, SBA awarded $18 million to 41 state international trade agencies that successfully competed for funding to support export growth among small businesses through SBA’s competitive STEP. The SBA awarded $700,000 to Empire State Development in New York totaling over 65% of their $1.076 million project budget. ESD has received STEP grant awards for the past six years. 

“Through the STEP program, new-to-export and new-to-market firms are selling American products and services in markets all over the world,” said RJ Ball, ESD Senior Director Industry Development and Foreign Trade Strategic Business Development/Global NY . “This year’s grant will further help New York State assist small businesses who want to enter and succeed in the global market.” 

“Switzerland is host to the primary exhibition in the world for business and private aviation,” said President Max Brown. “This particular trade exhibition is a key step to building relationships for our company. For Garrett Leather, STEP has been a primary source of funding that has allowed our firm to grow international contacts and expand outreach to several countries.” 

Max Brown is the son of Chairman of the Board Cameron Brown. Max started working in the family-owned business at age 19 learning a variety of trades including shipping and handling operations, product, customer service and marketing. Max was recently named President of the Western New York based company with over 60 employees. 

With an expanding salesforce and consistent growth in employment, the business moved to an 80,000 square foot facility in Cheektowaga in 2016 as it pivoted towards value added services that created more jobs, such as leather wall panel, rug binding and welt cord fabrication. The company has expanded its workforce by over 20% since the move. 

Max Brown encourages other small businesses to utilize the STEP program. “The SBA’s STEP promotion program continues to be a great help for Garrett Leather. It allows our company to be able to participate in yearly trade exhibitions, to have one-on-one business meetings and to build relationships with new business partners from around the world.” 

About the U.S. Small Business Administration 

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit