Hometown Pride Tour: American Hat Company - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Hometown Pride Tour: American Hat Company

BOWIE, TX (KAUZ) -

At American Hat Company in Bowie, Texas, employees hand produce one of the most iconic hats in American History. The company is known for their straw and felt cowboy hats shipping them all over the world. American Hat Company was founded in 1915 and was originally located in Houston, Texas. Keith Maddox bought the company in 2002 and moved it to Bowie. President of American Hat Company Keith Mundee says all the pieces just fell into place for Maddox to make the move. “The Economic Development Department was a big piece of it; he had some friends that he knew here in Bowie. The Economic Development Department made this building available to us, the building fit our needs perfectly and it’s been a great partnership with the city of Bowie and the Economic Development Department,” Maddox said.

American Hat Company produces a combined one hundred thousand straw and felt hats a year. The straw hats are hand woven and it takes around seven days to weave one hat. The hats are then pressed to get ready to be fashioned into the finished product. Machines aren’t accurate enough requiring workers to cut the frayed edges off of the hat using a blade. After cutting off the edges, workers sew wire into the edges of the hat. The wires help keep the shape of the hat once it is shaped to the customer’s preference. By the time we arrived at the station where the wire is sewn into the hat, 200 hats had already been sewn by one employee. An employee said she normally sews around 400 hats a day.

The felt hats start out larger than needed so they are then shrunk in machines that range from 75 to 100 years old. Workers don’t use timers, they’ve done this process so much that they’re able to tell how long each hat needs to be in the machine. Workers then sand the hats by hand for hours until the hat is smooth. Both the straw and felt hats then go to inspection where they are looked over and either sent back to be fixed or given the go ahead to be shipped.

Not only are the hats shipped out across Texas and the rest of the 49 states in America, they’re also shipped to other countries like Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, and even Italy.

American Hat Company is known for their “Open Crown” concept. Mundee says, “A lot of other people make a pre-pressed hat so that means the shape is pressed into the hat. Here at American Hat Company, we’re known for that open crown and flat brim so that it ships to the retailer like that and the hat gets shaped in front of the customer so that it fits their face and fits their style.” American Hat Company straw and felt hats are sold in stores across Texoma.

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