Saturday, October 10, 2009 Visits Dakota Visits Dakota

Jamie, Ben and Chuck

We (Chuck Klockow, owner and Charlie Hueni, customer service) recently had the privilege of visiting several of the manufacturers who make the great saddles we sell. After a full day of driving south, our first stop bright and early was Dakota Saddlery in Ider, AL. Upon entering the building, one thing stands out – low inventory. There were only a few finished saddles waiting to be shipped! But don’t worry, nothing’s broken at Dakota. In fact, it’s all going as planned by owner Ben Inman and Jamie Millard who work along with their wives Diane and Denise (sisters). You see, Dakota doesn’t build a saddle until they have an order for it, which allows them to save on inventory costs and sell their saddles at extremely reasonable prices. Ben told us that another saddle manufacturer recommended that he increase his prices, but Ben assured him that he is very content with the way things are going.
There are lots of reasons we like Dakota. Two of them are quality and service. Ben and Jamie showed us around the shop where we had the opportunity to see saddles in all stages of production. It was a thrill to see the hand craftsmanship that was going on by the skilled work force at Dakota. We also looked over their raw materials which include US hides and high quality synthetic fleece. Because of their quality, we stock a large number of Dakota saddles. We want to have them available so that when we get an order, we can ship it the same day. Our customers love that! Dakota also has great service. If there’s something you want customized about your saddle, they are happy to do it. And while some manufacturers charge a “penalty” for making a change, Dakota’s prices for customization are very low. In fact, they don’t charge anything for some changes including choosing the color of your saddle and seat. So you have a great opportunity to get a customized saddle at a very affordable price.
We have enjoyed a great relationship with Dakota which includes working together on custom saddle designs sold only by – like the very popular Flex Trail Saddle model 2212. Spending time with the people at Dakota made me realize why they have such great quality and service. It’s because that’s the kind of people they are, and it just comes through in the product. Unfortunately, due to our tight schedule, we were forced to decline Ben’s generous invitations to take us out for some southern cooking. We'll be sure to save time for that in schedure for our next visit!
Diane and Denise take a quick break for a picture
Ron Gore cutting a piece for a cantle
Denise gives us a demonstration of hand tooling.
We're still amazed at her speed. (RIP Mr. Chunn)