| We really enjoy catching up with our manufacturers. Recently Stan Headrick, head of Fabtron Saddles, sat down with us for a little interview. We thought you'd like a peek. |
HORSE SADDLE SHOP: What is Fabtron's philosophy of business?
STAN HEADRICK: For more than 35 years, Fabtron, Inc. has been blessed with a reputation for ethical,
responsible business practices. From the start, we instinctively knew that great companies are
built on the principle of doing the right thing each and every day – and treating business
partners, customers, and employees honestly, fairly and with respect.
If there is any one thing that serves as the backbone of our business philosophy, it is our
Guiding Values. These values are composed of six tenets.
Fabtron Inc. is still owned and operated by the Headrick family. Although we have grown
tremendously for our founding days, our business dealings are still heavily influenced by our
grass roots of learning from our industry.
- 1. Showing respect for our people
- 2. Conducting business with integrity
- 3. Taking responsibility for our actions
- 4. Providing products of the highest quality
- 5. Focusing on productivity at every level of business
- 6. Pursuing and supporting innovation every day
HSS: What sets Fabtron apart from other saddle manufacturers?
HEADRICK: Fabtron sees and realizes that competition is a given in any marketplace – no matter how novel the product. Consumers have a lot of choices of brands and products from which to choose.
From our philosophy, we are constantly working on Innovation of New Products that satisfies
today’s customers needs and desires. This is accomplished by keeping a close eye on
productivity and quality to bring the best products to customers at a marketable price – and
backing that all up with customer service that strives to make our products and our entire
business excel in the market place.
HSS: How did Fabtron get started in the saddle industry?
HEADRICK: Fabtron started in 1972 manufacturing Whips for the animal health and equine industry. Each
year, growth with new products took Fabtron to being one of the largest suppliers of whips,
girths, leads, nylon halters, strap goods, and other accessories in the industry. In 1992,
Fabtron made another giant step in the equine market with the production of light-weight
leather/cordura saddles. This involved the beginning of our leather operation for saddle tops
and mating our already existing large cut and sew operation for Fenders and Skirts. We
identified the market for leather/cordura saddles as being one to concentrate on and grow
with quality products designed to fit today’s horses and provide riding comfort for the rider.
The advantages of quality lightweight leather/cordura saddles vs. All-Leather saddles are
numerous for trail riders, etc. We have excelled in this market partly because of our broad
manufacturing base of a very wide range of products and manufacturing techniques.
HSS: How long does it take to make a Fabtron saddle?
HEADRICK: The manufacturing process of Fabtron saddles involves a number of stages. The production of
the Cordura fenders and Skirts is completed in our large Cut and Sew operation. From the
initial cutting of leather parts from top quality full hides, the leather operation takes all the
cutting, preparation of components, and actual assembly of leather parts on the correct saddle
tree. Finally, the complete leather saddle top and the Cordura fenders and skirt are mated to
complete a top quality Fabtron Saddle. This procedure takes 1 to 2 weeks once the saddle
HSS: What is your most popular model?
HEADRICK: Over the years, Fabtron has designed and manufactured a number of very popular saddles. It
is a progression of constantly listing to customers and designing products that fit today’s
horses and riders. A “Popular” saddle is a result of manufacturing a product that fits the horse,
is comfortable for the rider, and is what the consumer demands. We have a number of saddles
that meet those requirements. The “Trail Roper”, “Lady Trail”, “Easy Rider”, and the most
recent “Homesteader” styles all are some of the great saddles designed for various riders and
are very popular.
HSS: How is a Fabtron saddle different than an imported saddle?
HEADRICK: Fabtron saddles are different for a number of reasons. First, all Fabtron Saddles are made in
our factory in Maryville, Tennessee using top quality leather made for the saddle industry. All
Fabtron saddles are made on saddle trees designed and made in America – built for strength,
for fit, and comfort. Fabtron saddles are made for specific characteristics in a broad range of
styles – not just a 1 or 2 saddle fits-all approach. Being an American manufacturer, Fabtron is
much more versatile and much quicker to bring products to market – and improve products as
HSS: What makes a low quality Cordura saddle?
HEADRICK: A good question to ask also is - what make a high quality Cordura saddle? One of the best
ways is to set a “low quality” and a “high quality” saddle side by side and one can immediately
actually see many differences. One can examine the quality of leather used to manufacture the
saddle --- many saddles don’t even use leather but are totally man-made materials. Over a
short period of time, one can check the hardware used in the construction – is it stainless steel
that will not rust – or plated hardware that will rust. Fabtron even uses stainless steel screws
in the production of our saddles. One needs to check the saddle tree. Is the tree made for
demanding use or just something onto which a saddle is constructed made for initial selling vs.
long term use. Finally, one needs to check the “FIT” of a saddle for both the horse and rider.
Unless one has a good fitting saddle, total enjoyment of the riding adventure is sacrificed.
HSS: Any future projects you can share with the Horse Saddle Shop?
HEADRICK: Fabtron is constantly working on new products and developing new ideals. Some of the projects
end up being new products and some only help increase ones knowledge of various products. One
has to constantly work to improve products. Fabtron is constantly watching and listing for
projects and new ideals that will help the Equine industry. Our goal is to try to help improve the
riding experience which in turn helps the overall enjoyment of all equine activities.