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Townsend Leather celebrates 50 years

Townsend Leather employees gather for some fun at the company's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday afternoon off Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Townsend Leather is family.

That warm and fuzzy assessment was accentuated over and over by its employees Friday afternoon, as the company celebrated five decades in business with a 50th Anniversary Jubilee at its new building, known as “The Stitch” on Grove Street.

A news release issued prior to the 50th birthday party stated: “We have been privileged to have our foundation in such a supportive and vibrant community, giving rise to 50 successful years with many more to come. Our 50th Jubilee will be a moment for us to reflect on our past and honor the ways we have been able to stitch together our history, experience, community, growth, future, and dreams. We have grown over the years in so many ways with the support of our Glove Cities community and the drive that comes from our passion for leather.”

The Townsend Avenue leather finisher celebrated not only its 50th birthday, but the opening of The Stitch — a renovated building at the former Diana Knitting Mill at North Perry and Grove streets. The three-parcel, multi-building connected complex has been empty for more than 16 years, but Townsend has brought it back to life.

Friday afternoon’s four-hour tented jubilee under pleasant skies was a fun celebration for Townsend employees — also known as “partners.” Food, music, games, information booths and a general carnival atmosphere encompassed fields off Grove Street, as employees and invited guests celebrated. Activities included a photo booth, food trucks, personalized key chains, giant jenga and mechanical bull riding.

Townsend Leather owners Terry & Barb Kucel cut a ribbon to the new "Stitch" building at the company's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday afternoon off Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Townsend has been making internationally-sold leather in Johnstown since 1969.

The event was attended by Townsend Leather partners, including sales team partners from all around the world, local officials, and many of the “wonderful people that are a part of Townsend’s legacy and community,” the release said.

“We’re very family-oriented,” Townsend HR Director Pamela Goldswer stated, greeting guests entering the jubilee grounds. “We’re just super excited to celebrate with the community.”

Employees wore brown shirts with a colorful design celebrating 50 years of Townsend’s business.

“It’s a great company,” said employee Heather VanBuren. “It’s a very positive environment.”

The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich Townsend Leather employees and their guests pose in front of "The Stitch" - the firm's new building on Grove Street in Johnstown - during Townsemd's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

The family-oriented theme carried over to Townsend’s grand ceremony, with its black and gold color scheme. It included speeches by Townsend owners Terry and Barbara Kucel, as they reflected on the last 50 years. All the employees crowded around the podium to hear the words.

“Thank you,” Terry Kucel told employees. “We couldn’t have reached this success without you and your support.”

He added, “You inspire creativity.”

Barbara Kucel recounted some of the history of Townsend Leather, and how the family business began, and how the company’s legacy to the community has grown.

Terry Kucel told the gathering that Townsend produces “the best hides in the world” used commercially in various ways. He went on to thank various people, including the community, the company’s management, and Townsend customers who use the Johnstown-based leather products on airplanes and in hotels.

Two Townsend Leather employees poses for a photo at the firm's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday afternoon off Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

To company employees, Terry Kucel stated: “You have integrity. You have a passion for our family business and you love leather.”

“We’re super excited about Townsend’s 50th celebration,” said Townsend Communications Designer Shawn Czadzeck.

Sarah Eckler, vice president of sales and marketing, stated: “This is truly overwhelming.”

Tim Beckett, Townsend’s senior vice president, told the gathering “Welcome to The Stitch.”

He said Townsend “fell in love” with the building and the firm and contractors worked hard over 13 months to bring it to fruition.

Townsend Leather employee Sherry Cocker rides the mechanical bull at the company's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday afternoon off Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

“That’s the kind of force that changes the area,” Beckett said.

The complex includes a 66,000-square-foot building, of which 47,000 square feet is a three-story, former knitting mill; and a 19,000-square-foot, two-story addition built in 1988 with conveyer system.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

Townsend Leather Vice President of Sales & Marketing Sarah Eckler speaks at the company's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday afternoon off Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Townsend Leather partners listen during a ceremony at the company's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday afternoon off Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Townsend Leather Senior Vice President Tim Beckett shows off The Stitch building at the firm's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday afternoon on Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Townsend Leather owners Terry and Barb Kucel speak during the company's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday afternoon off Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Townsend Leather employee Heather VanBuren offers company shirts for sale at the company's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday afternoon off Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Townsend Leather employee Clara Birch, left, checks out at a Johnson Hall booth manned by Bernadette Weaver, secretary of the Friends of Johnson Hall, at the company's 50th Anniversary Jubilee Friday afternoon off Grove Street in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

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