When you think of Butte, saddles might not be your first thought. But for the past three years, Butte has been the home of a business very much involving saddles: Ray Holes Leather Care Products.
“My great-grandfather started the leather care products for shop use at Ray Holes Saddle Company, formerly of Grangeville, Idaho,” explained Sarah Rowley. “Since then it's gone through couple different family members, I am the fourth generation owner/operator."
Though the business started in 1936, today you can find her great-grandfather's handiwork in 47 stores in Montana, and in more than 400 stores nationwide.
Thanks to decades of hard work, you'll also find these in 14 different countries. Not bad for a company started in the middle of Idaho and recently moved to Butte.
Rowley says Butte's location at the intersection of I-15 and I-90 is helpful, but there are still challenges running an international business from the Treasure State.
“There are some transportation challenges,” Rowley said. “I try to avoid ordering freight in the wintertime, to spare the poor drivers. For myself, I just don't know any better. I'm a native Montanan and this is my home, so this is where I want to do business. I haven't tried it anywhere else. I just really, really want to contribute to the Montana economy and that's my goal.
Rowley does most of the work herself, though she does have two part-time employees.
As business continues to grow she knows being in Butte will provide her with a great employee base.
Thinking locally - that's what her her great-grandfather did back in 1936 and she still does today.
“I would like to think my great-grandfather would be proud,” Rowley said. “I knew him as a little girl. He believed in being a good person and doing business with good people. I believe that we've upheld that. I think he would also be proud of our locally-sourced ingredients. I think locally sourcing your consumerism is the old way and is inherently a good way and I think he would take some pride in that, I know I do.”
Rowley says she continues to look for small community stores and tack shops to sell her leather care products.