Ross Langlitz learned the need for protective clothing the hard way. In 1935, at age 17, Ross lost his leg when a drunk driver crashed into his motorcycle. Despite the doctor’s warning that he should never attempt to ride again, Ross remained a life-long cyclist. The passion for riding eventually determined his career.

While working in a glove factory, Ross decided to try making his own leather motorcycle clothes, as he couldn’t find what he wanted on the market. His first product was so impressive that friends wanted similar jackets. Word spread quickly.

In 1947, he opened his own shop. Since then, Langlitz Leathers has become known to buyers around the world for its quality products and fine customer service. Today, about 70 percent of the company’s customers are outside the Portland area.

Ross died in 1989, and his daughter Judy owns the shop, which now has 10 employees.

Responsible business practices have sustained Langlitz Leather for 70 years. Similarly, environmental sustainability is an integral part of the business culture. Participating in Smart Energy to offset carbon emissions is just one way the business demonstrates that commitment.

For example, to maintain its quality standards, General Manager Scott Smith said, the shop rejects about one third of all the leather it receives. But rather than letting it go unused, Langlitz makes it available to other businesses that need smaller pieces. “We sell it at a loss to keep it out of the landfill and make the most of the available raw product.”

Scott said, “At the heart of our business is customer service: we just happen to make motorcycle gear. Doing right by the customer means doing what you can for the environment and the community.”