Few, if anyone, had any idea what was in the basement.
With demolition underway at the Ford Product Development Center in Dearborn, rooms and closets filled with old furniture and automotive materials that have been out of sight and out of mind for years are being discovered, the Detroit Free Press, a USA TODAY Network publication reports.
Most recently, Ford unearthed about 250 cowhides valued at $450 to $500 each or more than $100,000 — once destined for premium leather seats in the Ford F-150 King Ranch, Ford Explorer, Ford Escape, Lincoln Aviator and Lincoln Navigator.
These leftover materials were ordered for prototype vehicles and show cars made over the last six to eight years, said Jim Conner, 3D process director for Ford design.
He’s the man in charge of fabrication, clay modelling and milling. But Conner has been in the role only three years. He plays a crucial role in recycling and upcycling materials to keep things from ending up in the dump.
“It forced our hand a bit with the campus transformation,” Conner told the Free Press. “We have big areas where we’ve stored stuff for a long time. We knew we had these, but we didn’t realize the type or quantity. These are super high-quality leather hides, the highest quality.”
These are small-batch leftover hides from prototypes that have come and gone. Still, premium, full-sized leftovers. The shades of black, brown and grey all vary.
Conner wanted to find a home for the leftover leather that would somehow make a difference and have an impact. The batch is too small to ship to factories, Ford said.
That’s where Pingree Detroit and Mend on the Move enter the picture, two Detroit businesses run by entrepreneurs creating things that help change lives.