Twin Leather: Bird Toys Parts, Scraps, ‘Skeletons’

That's Rich Castano with a leather-and-beads bird toy and Rena Fox of Birds Supply of New Hamphire.

That's Rich Castano with a leather-and-beads bird toy and Rena Fox of Birds Supply.

Leather, there’s nothing like it. From a well-worn saddle or good-fitting pair of boots, humans as a species have a thing for making useful and beautiful things from the hides of critters.

Brockton, Massachusetts, was known throughout the world as the epicenter for shoe making and a plethora of businesses working all facets of the leather trade clustered there. The U.S. government ordered more than half of the boots for Union soldier during the Civil War from Brockton manufacturers. As years passed, though, the heyday of the trade waned and the industry gradually moved business overseas.

“The soul of a company is creativity and innovation. – Robert Iger

Twin Leather in Brockton, Mass., was founded by Richmond and Raymond Castano, twins, in 1949. The company then made leather soles. The company has since diversified, shed unprofitable lines, retained the core knowledge and an ever-growing network of contacts.

Toy makers trust Twin Leather Bird Toys Supply for a steady, safe supply to help them create challenging or amusing toys for all sort of birds. The company ships leather components in assorted shapes and sizes and also offers kits. (Rescue groups can contact Richie direct; he does donate pounds of leather to worthy organizations.) Clients hail from the Netherlands and England to France and Australia as well as toy makers throughout North America.

"Pretty bird" with toy

“My cockatoo was a rescue,” she said. “The owners had lost interest, said ‘he bites, he screams, he’s locked in his cage, we can’t take it’ – I‘d say if you were locked in a bathroom for days on end, you’d scream too.”

Today, the company does specialty contract cutting, manufactures washers and gaskets, novelty items and sole making, in addition to the ever-growing Twin Leather Bird Toy Supplies line.

The latter was sparked by chance and good timing.

Zoo animal keepers tracked down Rich Castano, owner (he’s son of the late Richmond Castano; nephew of the late Raymond Castano), due to the company reputation for creativity and quality.

Richmond "Twinny" Castano, co-founder of Twin Leather, makes toys for the birds.

“A local bird toy manufacturer kept coming in and buying all our vegetable-tanned leather scraps, that resulted from miscut leather washers,” said Castano. “Curious to what was being done with them, I found out the answer was toys. Bird toys. Vegetable-tanned leather is a pretty important element for bird toy makers.”

He notes that an alternative process for leather curing involved chrome, which is highly toxic to pets.

There is a learning curve in dealing with parrots and their related feathered kin. The online toy community is diverse. Look for toy makers who are utterly dedicated to their passion for birds and health. Some work closely with avian vets to constantly improve products.

Smart, Yet Bored Easily? Toys Can Help

Nature created birds to fly. Humans desire birds for companionship and beauty.

To the uninitiated, the beautiful birds with an ability to talk are a novelty, an entertaining “thing.” To those who know and love birds, these highly intelligent creatures are lifetime companions, each is an individual. Requirements for a healthy happy bird are similar to growing a well-rounded human – regular interaction, quality nutrition, attention to hazards and regular time to play.

“Some birds like to chew on the leather or other objects,” said Fox of Bird Supply. “Each bird has specific likes and dislikes. Adding toys to their life means a richer environment.”

Rena Fox, owner of Bird Supply of New Hampshire, built her company on this mission “If we won’t give a toy to our birds, than we won’t sell that toy to you.”

Gum Balls is a bird foot toy available from A Unique Idea.

Gum Balls is a bird foot toy made by A Unique Idea.

Editor’s note: This week, the news that Brian Gordon, pitcher for the New York Yankees, used a baseball glove made with 100% synthetic materials (June 17, 2011) drew our attention. It brought to mind a visit to Twin Leather of Brockton for a business story that first appeared in Corporate Connecticut Magazine, now a sister publication on our news network. During our interviews and photos shoots, we’ve seen harnesses of leather and brass, saddles and boots in both synthetics and leather. While humans continue to innovate with new materials and combine technologies in new ways, we stand by our preference for quality leather.