Meet the family that ran Canberra's first and only tannery

A family business that started out as a tannery has survived in Canberra, custom making slippers and ugg boots.

"Tannery is a dirty word," owner Hans Dimpel said.

"But back in the '70s the National Capital Development Commission allowed us to open in the ACT.

"It started off as a fox skin tannery back then.

"We also did some sheepskins because it's sheepskin country; we did them as floor rugs mainly."

The business was set up in 1977 by Hans Dimpel senior and his wife Maria on the outskirts of Canberra near Queanbeyan.

"Queanbeyan didn't want a tannery in the '70s," Mr Dimpel said.

"Everyone was looking for clean, high-tech industries.

"They put us as far away from the city as possible and on the border."
Mr Dimpel has been in the business of processing animal skins his entire life.
And while each of the four Dimpel children learned the skills of the family trade, Hans junior took the mantle.

"I have a memory of helping dad inside the tannery at the age of two," he said.

"Dad came to Australia basically to set up a tannery from Germany.

"After working for the CSIRO for a couple of years he set up the tannery when he retired."

The long drought

When Canberra experienced the Millennium drought the business struggled.
'"We were forced to stop tanning in 2008," Mr Dimpel said.
In a bid to survive, the family purchased treated animal skins from other tanneries and started to diversify their production.

"That allowed us to focus on the actual manufacturing of the boots and slippers," Mr Dimpel said.

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