February 29, 2024

Summerland Factory Products Popular Throughout The World

Luke Riemer making one of the custom tool belts in Summerland

By Mark MacDonald

SUMMERLANDLuke Riemer had been building homes for 25 years, and he knew exactly what he wanted in terms of a tool belt to make his job easier.

The problem was, he couldn’t find one. So he made his own, and it was exactly what he needed.

It turns out the tool belts his Akribis Leather Ltd. creates are just what a lot of other tradespeople need, and his team of 12 in their 5,000 square foot Summerland factory now turns out 600 tool belts a month for carpenters, framers, electricians, plumbers, roofers and other trades.

Akribis Leather Ltd. founder Luke Riemer with one of their popular custom tool belts

“My old tool belt got worn out and I wanted to replace it with something that would do what I needed, but after two years of looking, I couldn’t find one, so I made my own,” he recalls. “Our belts are efficiently designed so tools and fasteners are in the right position to make it more efficient, so they’re fully symmetrical. Their custom built for unique tools that have unique positions, and all of our belts are built with left-handed options as well.”

Akribis tool belts are shipped across Canada and the United States, and into Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Spain, amongst other countries.

Riemer started Akribis Construction with a friend in 2005 and the company built around 300 homes in the mid-Okanagan before it closed down two and a half years ago as Akribis Leather took off.

“Akribis Leather became an actual business five years ago,” he notes. “Both companies had been going full steam ahead for a few years, but it got to the point where the leather company was catching up to the construction business.

“Being on the tools myself, I had a pretty good head start because I know what needs to go where,” he adds. “I know a lot of electricians first hand, so I would get them over, get their thoughts, get feedback from social media, and it would all help design products that were not really in my first-hand wheelhouse.”

Akribis Leather started slowly, as Riemer knew it would be costly to buy a machine to build what he wanted. His wife Tianna told him if he needed to buy a sewing machine to build a belt like he wanted, then just go ahead and do it. His first purchase was an upholstery machine, then a full-blown saddle machine and harness stitcher.

“I built several tool belts for myself, but I was never happy with them,” he remembers. “I built some for my crew, then some local guys saw them and wanted them. Then I got to the point where I knew that if people wanted them, I’d need to buy a proper machine, then make a business out of it, instead of just a hobby.

The Summerland location includes 1,000 square feet of retail space where they display a variety of different tool kits and construction-related products. Riemer says that customers come to the shop from as far away as Calgary and even Australia and set up appointments with him.

“We brought in high-end hand tools and other things I’ve used in my career,” he says. “We carry high-end hammers, and we’re the only Martinez distributor in Western Canada. It’s a U.S. made titanium hammer, and we have a huge selection of their tools.”

Their website offers 140 different products, and they’re adept at podcats titled Efficient By Design after their company motto, where they talk about their products, construction and other pertinent issues. Riemer is also looking to expand his distribution network.

“In a perfect world, we have six or seven stores across the country where people can see, touch and feel what we have, or order the whole range of products online,” he says.

“I get asked all the time if we can make other leather worked products, but I stay in my lane and stick with what we’re good at,” he says. “I’m not building wallets or gloves. It’s all industrial tool belts.”



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