Colorado Saddlery: Committed to American craftsmanship
Colorado Saddlery was established in 1945, the dream of three saddle makers originally from Hermann H. Heiser, a German maker who relocated to Denver to ease his tuberculosis symptoms, opening his shop in 1874.
The present-day office of Colorado Saddlery is a tip of the hat to the company’s storied history, filled with photos of saddles and holsters worn by Hollywood royalty, a photo of President Harry Truman with an early catalog, and a room of saddles built through the years, including the first saddle built and stamped with the Colorado Saddlery stamp.
In 2019, the owners of Colorado Saddlery bought the legendary Hunter Company, a business founded by Colorado Saddlery in 1952. Known for building holsters, gun belts, rifle slings and accessories in Colorado since 1945, Hunter once again joins Colorado Saddlery.
Co-owner and president, Matt Wassam, said the holsters and gun belts, made famous also by John Wayne, were built and stamped Colorado Saddlery beginning in 1945 before changing to Hunter in 1952. The company was ultimately sold in the late 1970s before purchased again in 2019.
The renaissance of Colorado Saddlery-built saddles includes both unique and traditional stamping, designs that are light and designed with working horsemen in mind, deep seat mounted shooting saddles, professional level barrel racing saddles, and others, all built on high quality trees.
The Golden storefront, only recently opened to the public, is one of the largest tack stores in the West with over 12,000 square feet of tack. Wassam said they have tens of thousands of bits and spurs, blankets, straps, pads, bags, parts, hardware and a wide selection of saddles.
Just down the road, craftsmen are building Hunter products, adding to the company’s commitment to American made leather goods.
“I like to think American craftsmanship is on the rebound,” he said. “The bottom line is we have two businesses that are made up of American workers who are interested in old world craftsmanship.”
There is value, he said, in holding a new item, built in America the same way it was built when your grandfather may have purchased the same item. With the purchase of Hunter, comes the hiring of vice president, Kendall Howard and combining a thriving online business with the legacy of handmade goods.
The warehouse, previously home to Crockett Spurs, is filled with machines that have been in use since World War II and also replicas of every handgun made to use in holster design. The whine of the die machine, the chatter of the sewing machines, and the crack of air powered tools signal both progress and dedication to the old, best way of building things.
Wassam said he has been managing teams of people for over 20 years and is so pleased that his current team, led in part by young, millennial-aged professionals, proves wrong every negative stereotype about the generation. The entire team, he said, is embracing what has made the companies a part of Colorado’s Western story and what will keep them moving forward.
“We’re banking on made in America coming back,” he said. “We’re actively investing in it and focusing on American craftsmanship right here in Colorado.” ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 392-4410.