|Exposing The Truth in Equestrian Goods|
|Porter Saddle Truth|
|1. Billy Cook is produced by Simco/ Longhorn utilizing original dies.|
2. Billy Cook Maker is based in Sulphur Oklahoma and has some production there.
3. There are Indian knockoffs that produce saddles using the "Billy Cook Maker" badging.
4. Billy Cook Harness and Saddle MFG Inc is not in good standing with Texas.
5. Billy Cook Maker has been prosecuted for hiring illegal immigrants to work in his Ok shop.
6. Billy Cook Maker saddles are classed as "production".
The web, auctioneers, saddle shops, individuals and retailers all claim to have an original Billy Cook. It is mind blowing how big this thing is. Here are some thing I have discovered. There are three trademarks filed with the US patent office, 2 canceled and 1 active.
The current trademark is "Billy Cook Maker U.S.A Genuine Sulphur, OK" and was filed on July 19, 1991 and published for opposition April 28th 1992 and a registration date of July 8th 1997 The registrant is Billy Cook Harness & Leather Mfg, Inc. of 2320 Lee street Greenville Texas 75401.
The interesting thing is this.... there is a disclaimer. "No claim is made to the exclusive right to use "Maker U.S.A. Genuine Sulphur OK" apart from the mark as shown"
When I run a corporation lookup in Texas I find a Billy Cook Harness & Saddle Manufacturing Inc registered to P.O.Box 1318 Greenville Texas however the corporation is not in good standing."This entity is not in good standing as it has not satisfied all franchise tax requirements" When a search is preformed in Oklahoma no business name under any variation of Billy Cook comes up.
So I decided to google map the address for Billy Cook Harness & Saddle 320 W. Muskogee Ave Sulphur Ok 73086. A commercial type of building exists and there is a street view available. There is a sign and there appears to be a production shop there. Additionally the phone and fax are working numbers 580-622-5505.
I did find this post which is very informative.
Billy Cook opened shop in Greenville, Tx. many yrs. ago after serving a time in the military where he had met Bill Potts. After a time they got together because Billy had the shop and Bill had the money. It became Billy Cook Saddlery/Potts Longhorn. The Billy Cook saddles were the upper line saddles, and Longhorn were the lower line. The Billy Cook saddles had better trees, Herman Oak leather, beveled stainless dees, hand tooling, and hand sewed rigs to skirts. Longhorn were lesser priced trees, regular stainless hardware, synthetic wool, and machine sewed rigs to skirts.
Tooling patterns were often pressed by a huge press, which is what made a lot of those saddles really hard and stiff. The people that worked there were proud of their work and proud to work there and made one of the best production saddles of that day. Jay Lynn Gore was the head tooler there for many years. The tooling look of Billy Cook saddles was largely the work of Jay Lynn.
Billy was the manager of this operation for many years, designing all the saddles, making patterns, and then having a complete set of dies made for every new design. Billy believes in dies.
Billy later started another shop in downtown Greenville making harness. It was called Billy Cook Harness. Eventually he started making saddles there too. He would work at Longhorn in the morning and go to the harness shop in the afternoon.
Billy Cook Saddlery/Potts Longhorn had coorporate offices in Dallas. In the late 80's Bill Potts passed away. The Co. continued to be run from Dallas. The co. had tons of orders but there was corporate embezzlement in Dallas and the co. went chapter 11, and then chapter 7. Everybody wanted to buy it and it went up for auction. Don Motsenbokker bought it. (I dont know if I spelled that right) Don was originally a bookkeeper for the Shoelkopf family. This was the family that used to make Jumbo Saddles. Don knew the saddle buisness and already owned Action, Tex Tan, Simco,which is in Chattanooga, Saddlesmith, and now Billy Cook Saddlery. He then advertised as the largest saddle co. in the world, which he probably was. That is how Simco and Longhorn came to be associated. Simco is still in Chattanooga, Longhorn is still in Greenville, Tx.
They did combine the coorporate offices in Chattanooga and call it Simco/Longhorn.
Billy Cook did not sell his name, he just couldn't keep it. When the Co went bankrupt everything went up with it, including the name, which had international recognition, Which is what made it valuable. He did keep building saddles at Billy Cook Harness until the I.R.S. shut him down for not paying his taxes, or not doing witholdings correctly for a number of years which amounted to a ton of money, which put him out of buisness in Greenville.
Sulphur, O.K., had one of those grant type situations to get new buisnesses in their town and Billy got one. That is why he has his buisness there while still having his home in Greenville, Tx.
No one who works at the Greenville plant is an original employee, but all the dies and patterns were done by Billy Cook. When those companies fuse like that they can buy literally truckloads, traincar loads of leather, synthetic fleece, glues, threads, etc. everything and distribute them to their various plants, also much cheaper than any small shop can do. This is one reason why a custom shop can't compete with a production shop, and shouldn't even try.
The bottom line is Ron, if you have a Billy Cook saddle then it was made in Greenville, Tx. Billy Cook saddles have never been made in Mexico, or in Tn. Saddles labeled genuine Billy Cook saddles are made in Sulphur, O.K. where Billy wants it to be clear that that is where he is, the real Billy Cook. If you have a Greenville, Tx. Billy Cook saddle and you like it, just enjoy it.
McRaes Bluebook has Billy Cook Harness and Saddle listed as a importer/exporter.
Then there is the prosecution of Billy Cook Harness and Saddle Inc "a Texas Corporation" sentenced to 3 years probation and $51,000 in fines for employing illegal immigrants on May 20 2008, where the describe the business as a manufacturer.
While there are many "Billy" saddles chances are good that if you have one labeled
Billy Cook Maker U.S.A Genuine Sulphur, OK it is a saddle manufactured by Billy Cook's shop, however be very careful about buying on E-Bay or auctions as they are known to have knockoffs. The only way to be sure is to deal with the shop directly.
As the article above also suggests is the Greenville Simco/Longhorn Billy Cook saddles are not bad and the same suggestion concerning purchasing would apply.