The Timeline of Our Lives…
Birth of a Notion
Better S-penders was born of a notion. We can’t take credit for creating BETTER S-PENDERS, though we’ll claim dibs on saving the small Oregon-based company from sad extinction. Company co-owner, Ken Downhill couldn’t find a place to buy the logging suspenders he’d been wearing in his 30-year career as a commercial timberfaller. When Ken complained about it to another faller (unfortunately, something fallers do a lot) it just so happened that his friend knew the reason why BETTER S-PENDERS were no longer on the market – the woman who had handmade them for years had passed away in a vehicle accident and the small company was up for sale. Within a few days we arrived with two trucks and a trailer and bought the company, the machines, and the know how to make the best damn suspenders available on the market today.
One Year Later
It took us awhile to figure out that it was WAY past time to bring BETTER S-PENDERS up to speed with higher quality construction materials, replace and scale up our leather presses and sewing machines and generally update our operating practices. In the process, we made a whole LOT of suspenders, sent samples out in the field for “testing,” made adjustments and invested in building a company as strong as the suspenders we manufacture by hand here in southern Oregon.
Getting Off the Ground
The start of any new business requires love, dedication and perseverance in order to succeed. Better S-penders was no exception. Ken and the team kept at it and eventually things took off. We worked hard, occasionally stumbled and kept going. We learned and soon perfected our craft.
The Company Takes Flight
Even small companies need a strong team, and in 2010 master Leatherworker, Nick Hall came onboard as a Co-owner of Better S-Penders. Nick’s understanding of leather construction and commercial sewing methods improved Better S-Penders’ product quality even more. Together, Ken & Nick steadfastly continue to manufacture suspenders, and shoulder pads, including design models for woods workers, wildland firefighters and structural firefighters.
The Fourth Year Rocked!
By its 4th year of operation, Better S-Penders was a hot commodity among those in the know, and word had spread. Professionals and recreational enthusiasts alike loved this small company putting out coveted suspenders made with old-world craftsmanship in southern Oregon. Ken couldn’t give up his career as a Timberfaller and Wildland Firefighter because that’s what he knows. However, he did find a way to balance his career in the woods with his passion and skill at making the finest suspenders you’ll ever own.
2012 – 2015 Highlights
To sum up the last few years, here’s a short list of just a few highlights and milestones we’ve achieved. We get wonderful feedback and ideas from our amazing loyal customers so we want to say thanks. We owe our success to you.
- Structural firefighter suspender design launched
- Upgraded leather press and commercial sewing machine shop
- Experienced 300% growth in retail outlets carrying Better S-Penders product line
Moving Forward Into the Future…
In thinking about 2016 and beyond, we came to some conclusions about rabid growth and made a conscious decision not to. Why? For us, it isn’t just about the money (although we like that, too), it’s about staying connected to the people and the process of making.
As much as we love living and working out in the wildlands of this amazing country, we also cherish the time we get at home with family and friends. We love designing knock-your-socks-off suspenders and being in the shop making them. Even more, we love seeing our customers out in the world wearing what we put our hearts into creating. That’s the best reward we could ask for. If we simply cranked out as many suspenders as possible and flooded the market, we’d certainly make a lot more money, but we’d also be missing out on something more important, so we don’t. We’ll simply continue making the best damn suspenders you’ll ever own.
Our passion for what we do transfers into our products
Gallons of Coffee Consumed
Nick is Ken’s partner and together they make it all happen.
Emily is Ken’s daughter and fashion consultant. When she’s not out on the slopes or working as a rafting guide, she’s helping Ken in the shop.