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GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – When it comes to western wear, hats have always been popular and they still are today.
“I’m looking for an open road, straw open road. it’s classic. It’s the LBJ hat,” said Les Hall, who talked with us as he was looking to buy a new hat.
If you own a cowboy hat there is a good chance it was made at the Hatco factory in Garland. Hatco General Manager Ricky Bolin explained, “Some of the machinery dates back to the 1800’s that we use.”
The company started in 1927 as Byer-Rolnick and eventually became Hatco. In 1938 they opened the factory in Garland, where they make some of the most recognizable brands in the business.
Of course you have your Resistol’s and Stetson. Here at HatCo they produce more than 3,000 hats a day making them the largest western hat maker anywhere in the world.
Ricky Bolin a former bull rider runs the company. When asked how many hats he had he said, “Probably at least three dozen at my house… at least that many.”
Known for cowboy hats, Hatco also makes hats for police departments and state troopers. “Everytime I get pulled over I make sure I mention that. I say, ‘Hey, I made that hat for you.'”
Hatco’s newest product is a helmet that meets safety certifications, but is styled as a cowboy hat.
And then there is the fedora that legendary coach Tom Landry wore. They make those too, and it’s still popular.
“We have been really focused on our dress hat line, like what Tom Landry used to wear, that fedora look,” Bolin said. “So, it’s been really good for us.”
Hatco has also been good for the community. Bob Posey said, “I started with the company in ’62.”
Many of the workers, like Posey, have been with Hatco for decades, and take pride in the “Made in America” label on the hats they make.
He says surprisingly, many people still don’t know about this factory. “No. It’s an unfortunate secret.”
But the secret is getting out.
Hatco say about 30-percent of their customers buy hats for fashion and about 70-percent get them for protection from the elements, which takes us back to customers like Les Hall, who grew up in Scotland and now lives in Dallas.
“Obviously I’m not a cowboy but I need a hat because of my skin in the summer. So it does the job without being too big and I think it looks stylish.”
They say home is where you hang your hat. Equally important, folks at Hatco say, may be where it was made.
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