Fri, 30 June 2023
Karsten Frecker is the owner of Frecker's Saddlery, a lifelong horseman and a lifelong craftsman. Along with several members of his family, including his wife, brother and sister, Karsten runs their saddle business from Dillon, Montana. The business was first started by Karsten's father, Kent, several decades ago, and Karsten just recently purchased it from him.
Like any business that looks straight forward on the surface, there are nuances and complexities to it that the owners make look non-existent. In today's interview with Karsten I spend a lot of time asking about how a person becomes a saddle maker, what Karsten is looking for in an apprentice and how the business works, i.e. producing saddles for sale vs. doing custom orders.
A very interesting part of this discussion is the manner in which people go about learning this trade. When Karsten brings on an apprentice, he hopes they will be with the company for the long haul so that they can recoup their investment in the apprentice and grow the business. However, this does not always happen, and some lessons that were learned the hard way have taught Karsten that only he and his brother will commit to doing custom work for customers with special orders. Therefore, they have over a 3 year waiting list for custom saddles, and they are constantly striking a balance between producing products and fulfilling orders.
Karsten states that the best way to learn to be a saddle maker is work alongside somebody with experience. However, if somebody wants to learn the trade in order to start their own shop this has to be done in an ethical manner. Karsten and I talk about this in the interview.