Simmons Bilt

Discussion in 'Reproduction manufacturers' started by Peter Graham, Apr 8, 2019.

  1. stanier

    stanier Well-Known Member

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    Have I missed something here, or misunderstood?

    Simmons Bilt / Alexander Leather was founded on the back of / aftermath of Will Lauder’s morally corrupt and illegal criminal behaviour, is that not correct? If it is, then I would not want to do business with them and reading the trail of events outside this and other forums but on a number of news sites and factoring in the kindness and trust invested by Ken and his family into WL then I think their position is perfectly understandable and probably somewhat lenient, IMHO. It seems strange to me that, assuming my understanding is correct, a company with dubious roots is having people trying to pursue the “give us a break” moral high ground, albeit, on its behalf.

    This forum is not automatically pro-Aero. Personally, I don’t have a history of being a fan of their jackets, but the recent products and retaining a sense of fair proportion on pricing along with Ken’s willingness to engage here has won me over to at least take a closer look, and I suspect my next A-2 will be from Aero.

    And the AM Irvin project makes my blood boil. Anyone involved in that debacle needs a long hard look in the mirror, and certainly people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I wonder how JohnnyBoy is doing? Real shame about Aces High. Ken wanting no part of the AM Irvin project increases his, and Aero’s credibility immeasurably for me.
     
  2. Southoftheborder

    Southoftheborder Active Member

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    I think what you may have missed is that WL was prosecuted and sent to prison for theft of Aero property as an individual; and those thefts were not connected with AL/SB. He stored the property which he was convicted of stealing in his own house. Furthermore he was prosecuted for the theft of jackets not patterns. When he left Aero he took Amanda and several of their most experienced machinists with him. There must have been a reason why those employees who had been with the company for many years chose to throw in their lot with a new start up rather than staying with Aero.

    The fall out at Aero came as a result of all sorts of problems. The US agent taking money for orders without passing them on was one, and there were mistakes and very probably mismanagement at Aero under WL and Amanda. But it was a falling out within a business, and one faction subsequently took back control from another. It had nothing to do with any theft of jackets which only came to light later.

    Since then and even though Will Lauder has served his sentence and he and Amanda have left SB there has been a feud between the two companies. Kept alive by Aero at every opportunity on forums like this one using Lauder's conviction as an individual as a stick to beat the present company with. And someone always obliges by linking to the old FL thread with its very pro Aero stance. It paints them as pure victims with Lauder and AL as pantomime villains who betrayed friendship and trust. Truth, as always probably lies somewhere in the middle.

    I have no idea if SB is now or has ever used Aero patterns as alleged by Aero; and as I wrote above if Aero thinks they are doing so then they should sue rather than use forums to try to discredit them.

    But as I see it it long ago become a trade dispute between Aero and a company in competition with it, and I see no reason why customers should be dragged into a trade dispute and be forced to take sides.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  3. Persimmon

    Persimmon Well-Known Member

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    And after all that .... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Peter, what was the jacket of interest and has all the schmozzle written above put you off considering it.
     
  4. Peter Graham

    Peter Graham Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Alan. It’s the Dakota jacket. I’ve been looking for a jacket with that design for a long time. I didn’t mean to open a can of worms but I suppose I should have predicted it. The reason I mentioned Will Lauder is that I have a lot of respect for Ken and Aero and if WL was involved with SB then I would certainly be dubious about dealing with them.
    http://www.simmonsbilt.com/vintageclassics/dakota.html
     
  5. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    Not all of those involved in the fraud ended up facing charges despite one curent SB employee admitting under oath during cross examination at WLs trial that he had taken part in the fraud for a period of three years
     
  6. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    Once we started examaning the paperwork left behind, and questions started to be asked by us and the constabulary, most of those that left had very little option other than to leave, none left immediastely WL was shown the door
     
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  7. Superfluous

    Superfluous Member

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    The suggestion that WL's criminal wrongdoing is separate and distinct from his co-founding of AL/SB is, IMHO, demonstrably false and utterly preposterous. In addition to stealing Aero's products and selling them from his home -- conduct which admittedly is not attributable to AL/SB -- WL also stole Aero's patterns and put those patterns to use at AL/SB. In fact, AL/SB's founding was predicated on and enabled by its use of the Aero patterns stolen by WL. Within a couple of months of commencing operations, AL/SB was able to introduce an extraordinary number of individual jacket styles precisely because it had Aero's patterns. AL/SB was not required to invest the time, money, sweat, and craftsmanship necessary to create its own patterns. Thus, WL's criminal conduct permeated and infected AL/SB from the very beginning. The fact that AL/SB subsequently ousted WL -- after capitalizing on the patterns that he stole from Aero -- does not change the legacy of the company. Moreover, according to Ken, AL/SB continues to use the patterns stolen by WL. If AL/SB genuinely sought to turn-over a new leaf and separate itself from WL's criminality, AL/SB should discontinue all jacket styles created using the patterns stolen from Aero (and perhaps also offer reparations to Aero). Instead, AL/SB simply changed its name and hoped that everyone would forget. I, for one, will not forget.

    To be clear, I do not condemn anyone who chooses to do business with AL/SB. These are very personal decisions.

    Lastly, I do not own any Aero jackets and I am not part of any Aero propaganda effort as suggested by someone earlier in this thread. Rather, I am merely a jacket enthusiast, with no dog in this fight, who finds AL/SB's historical origins reprehensible.
     
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  8. Persimmon

    Persimmon Well-Known Member

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    If the patterns are/ were so important then Aero should have / should still ... sue.
    Perhaps they realize it’s going to be a hard case to win and decided to move on with life and their business and think what goes around comes around.
    Perhaps other folks might just do the same.
     
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  9. stanier

    stanier Well-Known Member

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    Sorry no. That might suit some, but it ain’t happening. How can Ken losing nigh on £200k, his business and trust battered, retirement stuffed and a doorstep competitor with Aero trained staff be described as “what goes around comes around”?

    A case that’s hard to win in court doesn’t mean it should be forgotten in real life.

    There was a real wrong done here and the carpet hasn’t been woven or the broom made to sweep this under.

    Sorry Persimmon but a wannabe VLJ elder statesman tone isn’t required on this one.
     
  10. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    It is rather ironic that anyone involved in the AM project feels comfortable occuping the moral high ground

    Lest we forget
    https://www.vintageleatherjackets.o...jackets-the-ultimate-raf-fleece-jacket.11759/
     
  11. Southoftheborder

    Southoftheborder Active Member

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    I agree, and it starts with Aero moving on.... SB is here and shows no sign of going away.
     
  12. Superfluous

    Superfluous Member

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    Kim Jong-un is also "here and shows no sign of going away." That does not mean I, or anyone else, should embrace him. To the contrary, sustained criticism of well entrenched corruption is entirely appropriate. If Kim Jong-un fired his original co-conspirators and changed his name to Mary Poppins, would you thereafter welcome him with open arms?

    The calls for litigation or silence are also inappropriate. Even when a successful outcome is substantially likely, litigation is an extraordinarily costly, time-consuming, taxing, and burdensome course of action; and the benefits of a favorable outcome/judgment are frequently outweighed by the considerable burdens associated with the process. Ken made a sound business decision not to pursue costly litigation that would have diverted his attention and resources from the important task of rescuing Aero from the aftermath of WL's treachery. Ken invested his time and money into his company rather than litigation. As much as I would have loved for AL/SB to be punished for its abhorrent conduct, I understand and support Ken's decision to channel his efforts in a different direction. The notion that Ken's election not to litigate precludes any further condemnation of WL/AL/SB is simply nonsensical. A favorable outcome in litigation is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a prerequisite to moral outrage or criticism/condemnation. Those who abhor AL/SB remain free to share their opinions notwithstanding the absence of litigation and a favorable adjudication. Public/private discourse is not dependent on judicial proclamation.

    I respect those who wish to forgive and forget. Your compassion is admirable. All I ask is that you respect my equally indelible and legitimate right to remember and freely speak my mind regarding past injustices, particularly when the perpetrators continue to benefit from their past wrongs.
     
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  13. Southoftheborder

    Southoftheborder Active Member

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    I'm not calling for anything, you are. You want SB punished in some way even though Lauder has not been with the company for years now. And comparing a jacket manufacturer which may or may or may not have used some dodgy business methods to help set itself up with a murderous dictator is so OTT as to be laughable. It's a sort of Godwin's Law. It continues the trend of that old FL thread linked to above. It took that absolutist moral tone too. It also had some truly hate filled comments in it - including about Lauder's family as I recall.

    It's funny how moral outrage so often leads to immoral words and even actions. That thread went so far that it caused one mod to resign in protest at it being allowed to continue at all. He contacted several FL members to apologise for the whole tone of it.

    The dispute between these individuals and companies was nearly a decade ago so how long do you think it should go on for? Should it go on into the misty future like the MacDonald - Campbell feud? The Scots do tend to coddle their grudges like they coddle eggs.

    Every time SB is mentioned on a forum someone drags it up to try to damage the company. I don't know exactly what went on there and neither does anyone else other than the participants. But the only thing ever proved in court was that WL as an individual took property that the court decided belonged to Aero Leather.

    BTW I'm quite sure that if Aero thought they could successfully litigate over the alleged stolen patterns they would have done so. They have taken action against other companies in the past including Lewis Leathers over their attempted use of the Highwayman name.
     
  14. Ken at Aero Leather

    Ken at Aero Leather Well-Known Member

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    If you push me I can post proof of "off the record" finacial involvement of five current SB employees dating back to 2006. It appears to have been a long time in the planning.
    Small fry £££s-wise in the grand scheme of things, too little for the PF to take action athough most of it came out in the trial..............not sure if HMRC have taken any action or not
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
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  15. jeremiah

    jeremiah Well-Known Member

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    No need for that Ken. I think plenty here know what you guys did and what a tremendous show of character that was. The few that seem to want you to move on simply need to take their own advice themselves I think.
     
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  16. Persimmon

    Persimmon Well-Known Member

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    Jeremiah
    I think from what Ken has written he has moved on.

    That’s the point !
     
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  17. jeremiah

    jeremiah Well-Known Member

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    I agree. My point was that it wasn’t Ken who started this thread. He was simply answering a question.
     
  18. Julius

    Julius New Member

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    Forgive my ignorance, but for someone to steal Aero's patterns it means there were at least two set of patterns for each design. Otherwise, Aero would have been left without patterns. Is that right Ken?

    I do not understand why someone would bother to steal Aero's patterns. I don't think it's the patterns that make Aero so popular.
    Also, if someone goes away and takes half of someone's employees, wouldn't he take care so that the patternist to be one of them?
    And if the patternist was, let's say, not a full time worker at Aero's wouldn't it be possible to hire him to create similar patterns?

    Ken what is the cost of a pattern to make? Around 20 pounds? So for 10 designs they would have to pay what? 200 pounds? Big deal. Why would they have steal them?
    I suppose any good patternist could have made them from scratch.

    I do not endorse SB/WL stealing of patterns from Aero, or stealing from anyone, just expressing some honest questions.
     
  19. Micawber

    Micawber Well-Known Member

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    Groundhog Day?
     
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  20. jeremiah

    jeremiah Well-Known Member

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    Your avatar is one of my favorite movies of all time.
    I can remember searching for it back in 2002. Finally found a copy in London on dvd. Had to find a player here in the states to play it though as it was region locked. Now I have a digital copy of it. Love it.

    Hell Drivers.
     

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