In a town where bootmakers can be found in abundance, Caborca sets itself apart in mind, body, and spirit.
In León, Mexico, leatherwork is a way of life. A small colonial town in the central state of Guanajuato, León is home to some of the world’s most skilled cobblers and bootmakers, whose craft has been passed from one generation to the next since the mid-1600s, and some 3,000 shoe manufacturers, including many of the biggest and oldest names in the boot business. But in the historic Shoe Capital of the World, one factory, in particular, stands apart.
At the Caborca Group factory, where you’ll find the latest styles from the popular Liberty Black label, bootmaking is all about quality — and not just when it comes to materials and process. “This is a very socially responsible and humanistic company,” says Liliana Lozano, marketing manager for the Caborca Group. “The owners care about their employees. It’s a really neat environment here. It’s a healthy place where people come, and we are happy, so that reflects in our job, because we make [boots] with love and with passion, so we do things right.”
The company was originally founded in 1978 by Luis Torres Muñoz and his two sons, Luis Jr. and José Manuel. In the beginning, six craftsmen made 12 pairs of boots per day, but the growing popularity of Caborca boots and its associated brands, such as Liberty Black, catapulted the company into the mainstream. Now, from its factory in León, more than 550 employees manufacture 7,000 pairs of boots every week, combining traditional craftsmanship with the industry’s latest technology. That technology includes an X-ray machine used to inspect the quality of the boots and test the leather for exposure to any potentially hazardous toxins. It also includes innovative Ger-man and Italian machinery that speeds up production — yet, operating it requires great artistic skill, and many aspects of the finishing process, such as leather-braiding, are still done by hand.
Craftsmanship alone has put Caborca at the forefront of the industry. Beyond the bootmaking, the company shows just as much dedication to protecting the environment — utilizing environmentally friendly materials like vegetable dyes and promoting green living and recycling in its offices and community — -as well as its employees. Caborca has received several awards from the Mexican Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare in the State Labor Merit category for providing optimal working conditions.
The company’s perks and benefits program — known as Mind, Body and Spirit — offers a fresh take on the meaning of employee satisfaction. The initiative makes dental, psychological, and nutritional health services available to staff, along with music, yoga, and Zumba classes. It also provides massage and meditation sessions, language and GED courses, and team-building activities. Caborca even offers employees and their families reduced-cost produce — which is grown on the company--owned organic ranch, Sham-bhala, where the factory’s cafeteria waste is composted and repurposed as fertilizer.
It’s a company largely built by young people, and it’s one that is always changing. Just ask employees like Luis Mendoza, a 23-year-old who started at the company as an intern and then took a job in the marketing department after going to school to study computer engineering. His brother also works for Caborca, and his father has worked there for 25 years in the industrial maintenance department. Mendoza fondly recalls being invited as a boy to the home of current company owner Luis Torres Díaz (Muñoz’s- grandson), who has a reputation for taking a genuine interest in each of his employees, knowing each one by name, their needs, and their goals.
“To begin with, this company has made me reach personal development and professional development [levels] I never expected to have before,” Mendoza says. “I’ve reached so many things I never thought I could reach. I’ve developed so many abilities I didn’t even know I had, and I feel really happy. It’s really easy to work here, because everybody is really friendly, starting with Mr. Torres and his family.”
Product designer Nayeli Ornelas echoes this sentiment. “Liberty Black and Caborca, this company is really different from others,” Ornelas says. “First of all, because of the human approach. For this company, it’s really important to take care of the workers here. Its main goal is to have a happy [workforce]. We become somebody here. We grow, not only in the professional field but in the human field. We learn a lot from each other, especially from the owners of the company. For me, it has been a great discovery knowing the Liberty Black lifestyle.”
For more information about Caborca boots, visit their website.
From the May/June 2018 Issue.