Tanya Van Der Water at the Buckaroo Leatherworks factory.

Tanya Van Der Water is a great example of a business owner who is committed to maintaining a family legacy. At the same time, she is transforming it into a globally known brand. She has done this through constant learning, networking and benchmarking the business to always improve.

Buckaroo Leatherworks is a Wollongong based company selling throughout Australia and New Zealand with growing export and digital sales channels.

Since the 1970s, Tanya’s father stood at the helm of Buckaroo Leatherworks. In 2013 he tragically passed, thrusting her into the top position at only 26. Her leadership has seen the business transform, with Tanya striving to innovate and grow the business. At the same time, she sought to retain her father’s values of workmanship and excellence.

A few years into her new role, she moved to Canada for a year. From there she established contacts and explored the Northern American market. On her return, she knew they needed to improve efficiencies and increase capacity to take up these new market opportunities.

“The program has delivered a new-found confidence to us…prior to the program we felt a little lost.”

Joining the AusIndustry Entrepreneurs’ Programme allowed her to do just that. Following the initial discovery, it was clear that an overhaul of processes needed to happen.

“The time and energy spent looking at the parts of the business that we never truly focussed on has been a real game changer. Often, manufacturers get caught up in the idea of growth being about just increasing output. For us, understanding every step of the way has been the more sustainable approach to our growth.

The metrics behind our processes, the budgeting of labour, the application of industry benchmarks, the detail in our production goals – this has all come about as a result of our undertaking of the program.
— Tanya Van Der Water – Buckaroo Leatherworks

With the help of a Growth Grant, Tanya has deployed software into the business which has provided increased reporting and visibility on business performance. The business’ digital marketing presence has increased, and social media is a strong part of the Buckaroo brand promotion.

In early 2020, Buckaroo Leatherworks relocated to a larger facility in Bellambi, New South Wales. This was to help them develop capacity and capability to meet market demand. Despite concern about the impact of COVID, the firm thrived on the back of the construction sector and growth in the DIY market.

Tanya is a fantastic example of a business owner driven to maintain a family legacy and transform it into a globally known brand. She has done this through constant learning, networking and benchmarking the business to always improve. They are now exploring 3D printing and how they can innovate in this space.

Speaking about the future, Tanya says it is looking bright. “We are so privileged to be in the position we find ourselves as it’s comforting for our staff to know that we are heading places. We could have so easily been another statistic and moved offshore, but our continued efforts to improve ourselves every step of the way is leading to a certain and full of potential future.”