Western & English Today


W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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JANUARY 2016 47 tell customers nearly every day that Stetson is a brand and not a style." Stetson sold the f rst hat he made on the way to Colorado – which his traveling companions laughed at – for $5 to a passing bullwhacker. He set up shop in Philadelphia in 1865, and his hats became an instant success out West. He used traveling salesmen, his factories were state-of-the-art for their time, his employees were paid well, and when he died in 1906, his business was still booming. But as innovative as Stetson was, even he probably could not envision the hat industry today. Yet undoubtedly he would tip his "Boss of the Plains" to Hatco. T e location's dif erent – appropriately in the West, headquar- tered in Garland, Texas, instead of the East – and not just Stetson these days, but the goal remains pretty much the same. "To manufacture and sell f rst and foremost American made high quality fur felt and wool hats in both Western and Dress cat- egories," Bolin says. T e current factory originally belonged to E.R. Byer and Harry Rolnick, who formed a hat-making partnership in 1927 in Dallas. According to legend, Byer, a Michigan millionaire, loved the hats Rolnick was making. With Byer's capital and Rolnick's hat-making expertise, the company gained national exposure and created a new brand: Resistol Hats. In 1938, the company moved to a larger facility in Garland. "T e factory has been here ever since," Bolin says. When the John B. Stetson Company ran into hard times in the 1970s and was bankrupt by 1986, Hat Brands acquired the license to produce Stetson hats. "T roughout the years," Bolin says, "through mergers and acqui- sitions, the brands that came out of the factory grew." In 1992, under new ownership, the company was reincorporated as RHE Hatco, which today employs 400 workers in Garland and Longview, Texas, manufacturing hats for Stetson, Resistol and Char- lie 1 Horse – and, since 1999, apparel under the Resistol brand name. T ese brands are almost treated like separate companies, but they do work together. "We have distinctively dif erent brands that target dif erent con- sumers and we market to them," Bolin says. "T ere is a friendly competitiveness between all of our product designers. Ideas get bounced of each other. We work with sales and key accounts to see where the styles are heading and build of of that. It's an organic process that requires a lot of creativity, but it's a heck of a lot of fun." It must be fun. Look at the hat brands. ANDS of RHE HAT CO

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