So here we are again, our third year making the saddles for the Big Loop Big Money Tour put on by the Phillip Ranch. This is by far the biggest project that my team and I orchestrate during the year… other than getting ready for the USTRC Finals in Oklahoma City. The product list isn’t all that complicated, 14 solid rough out saddles with 14.5″ seats. That doesn’t sound too difficult… because you don’t work in our shop.
My team of craftsmen (and craftswoman… sorry jodi) is by far the best group of talent in any shop… the problem is there aren’t very many of us. Not to mention our lack of space that is needed to perform such a job… cramped quarters. All of this combined with only having one sewing machine, only three draw down stands, two head knifes, no clicker, no band knife, and only two people who actually can build a saddle from start to finish. Every year we build these saddles within a short time frame.
The thing to remember here is that our shop is a true custom shop that produces on average 4-5 saddles a month, each completely different in design and artwork. We work in a manner that allows us to focus on the specifics that the customer requested and do the best possible job that we can. Then what makes us want to take on such an endeavor and how do we shift gears to get the product completed at the same quality level and deliver on time?
WE HAVE NO IDEA… BUT WE DO IT! HA HA!
When we first took the job on, we knew that it would be challenging to say the least. What we didn’t realize is that in complicating things a bit and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone, we gain very valuable skills and techniques that allow us to become more efficient throughout the rest of the year while increasing the quality.
The first year was very stressful, constant worry and running close to the deadline… but quality was maintained. The second year we finished with time to spare and quality increased a little. This year we started earlier, working the saddles in with our customers orders, and feel more confident than last year. That is not to say that we are not conscious of the task before us or too comfortable and wasting time. We still have a lot to learn about the art of project planning and execution, but we do have a couple years behind us now and feel like every year has benefited us not only on this project but on all our projects year round.
So as we have already begun the “Big Loops” this year, I thought it would be fun to give an inside look at how we handle them and the chaos that could possibly insue within our little shop in Bryan, TX. I will do my best to not only post about the triumphs, but also post on the screw ups and mishaps (hopefully we don’t have too many of those). I have no idea how many post there will be or if it will be worth reading at all, but I will do my best. I’m not going to lead you on, there usually isn’t ever a ton of shop drama, fist fights, crying, or firing of employees… but this is a new year so you never know!
We want to thank the Phillip Ranch for giving us this opportunity and all the ropers that spend their hard earned money and time traveling every month trying to win one of our saddles. We will make sure that this year’s saddles are everything that has come to be expected from the Big Loop Big Money Tour Finals!