Neighborhood Heroes: Louisville-Based Clay Simpson and Tyler Jury of Clayton & Crume

clayton & crume
Photo: Courtesy of Clayton & Crume

To overcome the catastrophic coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at hand, it’s important to recognize the positives. One beacon is selfless service. Countless acts by organizations and individuals alike are minimizing the lasting damage. This hard work isn’t only done by the ER doctors, nurses, and first responders constituting our last line of defense. It’s also the good Samaritans doing thankless work next door. We raise our glasses to all the local heroes on the front lines—from all the hospital workers to the grocery stockers, postal workers, small business owners, plus those delivering goods to the elderly and at-risk, #weoweyoudrink.

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In this installment, we caught up with the co-founders of Louisville-based high-end leather outfitter Clayton & Crume, Clay Simpson and Tyler Jury. Over the past couple of months, they have quite literally turned their business upside-down in order to produce 500,000 protective face masks to be donated directly to frontline workers in their home state of Kentucky.

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clayton & Crume
Photo: Courtesy of Clayton & Crume

Name: Clay Simpson and Tyler Jury
Title: Co-Founders, Clayton & Crume
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Years on the Job: 8 years

MJ: How has your work changed in the last two months?

C&C: Immensely. After being forced to close both our production and retail spaces in a matter of days, we found ourselves looking for a way to make a difference during the pandemic. We rounded up the materials necessary and created a thousand face shields to donate to frontline medical providers in our city.

After some local media attention and a conversation with the Governor’s office, we were asked to produce a half-million face shields for the state of Kentucky. Our entire team pulled together to transform our operations. Hiring 180+ people in two weeks and coordinating the logistics behind a large-scale effort was one of the most challenging things we have ever done, but after five weeks of production we delivered our final truckload of shields and have helped provide critical PPE to our entire state. Our team was excited to be involved in the PPE efforts, but is thankful to be getting back to what we do best: creating leather goods that last.

What is your greatest challenge at hand?

Continuing to meet customer demand as our team settles into the “new normal.” With the recent focus on PPE, we’ve been working overtime to keep our core business driving forward. Adjusting our schedules and staying focused on serving our customers to the best of our ability has kept us on the right foot.

Do you feel at risk/threatened?

Fortunately, we do not feel at-risk in terms of health. However, we all must continue to make wise decisions for the good of those around us as we work to come out of this together… as safely as possible. People all across our community have risen to meet this challenge. We’ve all done our part. For some, that is social distancing at home. For others, it’s working on the frontline. In Kentucky, distilleries have transformed to make hand sanitizer, and we transformed our operations to supply critical PPE.

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Do you see signs of hope?

We’ve found hope in all of the sacrifices individuals have made to help the community at-large. While the pandemic has been a tough and trying time, we believe our country has banded together in ways we haven’t seen since September 11. We’re as proud as we have ever been to be a part of this community.

Should people be out working/how can folks help with this situation?

People should be out working—but only if it is safe for them to do so. That can be a personal decision, as well as situational. One’s family environment, personal health risks and job accommodations are all factors in deciding how to best proceed as our country works to climb out of this crisis. We certainly cannot live in fear, but we must make wise decisions and proceed with caution.

Check Out the Clayton & Crume Website Here

Do you know a Neighborhood Hero making a difference on the front lines of your community? There are three easy ways to nominate someone to be featured: 1. Nominate your Neighborhood Hero in the comments below and simply let us know why they deserve to be featured and how we can contact them. 2. Send us a Direct Message on Men’s Journal Instagram with your nomination. 3. Post their photo on Instagram using #weoweyouadrink (either on Stories or Feed).

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