Enjoy the story of a man, a few saddles, and a dream
   I was born in Montgomery, Alabama the third son of John and Warene.  Third times a charm I guess.   Nothing really interesting happened to me for the first twelve years of life, but when I turned thirteen the old man put me to work in his saddle shop.  I worked after school and on weekends up until I left for college at Auburn University.  I know, I know, but i'm reformed now, Roll Tide!!! After a few short years away at school I realized that working in the saddle shop was a lot more rewarding than any of them there more cerebral ventures.  So I quit it.  

    I moved home and went to work in the saddle shop, which at that time was located in our family garage.  After six months I convinced the old man to partner with me and rent a storefront in town.  We did, and had a good time for the three years until he retired to that great big saddle shop in the sky.  After that it just wasn't the same. 

    I kept the business going for a few more years until a job offer came to me from Steve Tucker of Tucker Saddlery in Memphis Tennessee.  It was a good job offer so I took it.  I closed the doors at J.P. Leather Works and moved on up to Memphis.  I started off as supply chain manager then moved on to pickup the warehouse manager position, then cutting department manager, then flat shop manager.  Then the big change occurred. 

    Steve Tucker purchased Circle Y Saddlery of Yoakum Texas, and with the buyout most of the Tucker Saddlery operation moved to Yoakum, my job with it.  

    Texas was a strange place to me.  It was hard to find a good glass of sweet tea.  I had never heard of barbecued brisket, to me barbecue meant smoked pork butt, and what is it with cowboys and polka?  A couple times a week at 10 in the AM every radio in the shop would simultaneously change to a polka show and everyone, young and old, would jam on it till lunch.  To an Alabama boy who was raised on Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers it was about the worst form of noise pollution one should have to endure once, let alone twice weekly, year after year.  Time, somehow, passes and I, somehow, adjusted.  That is, except for the heat.  Now Alabama is no cool and dry place to be but it still ain't south Texas.  That place was 95 degrees at 7 in the morning.  Winter lasted approximately 2 weeks and even then it only got down into the 70s.   After a couple of years it started to drive me totally insane.  That kind of heat can cause brain damage some of which I don't think I have even today been able to recover from.  Sometimes in late August I find myself lying under the house throwing sand on my back like some great redneck chicken.  It was time for a change.

    I loaded up a rented van and lit out for Alabama.  I settled in Grady, Alabama and went to work in the roofing industry and part time in my own saddle shop that happened to be located in my garage.  After a couple of years there was so much saddle work that I had to quite selling roofing a go full time in the shop, and that brings us up to now.  Along the way I've worked both sides of the saddle industry both in one man shops and in the big factories.   I have met and learned from some of the finest saddle makers ever, Bull Swanson and Dana Thweat to name a few. 

     It has all kind of come full circle; I am back in Alabama working in my own saddle shop.  I am a little older, hopefully a little bit wiser and i'm knee deep in saddle work. I'm surrounded by good people who belief in me, but most importantly I've come to know Jesus, who grace is abundant and he strengthens me everyday.  Life is good and getting better all the time.  If you've made it reading this far thanks for the investment of your time.  I kinda feel like I got to rambling there about middle way through.  If you need your saddle fixed lemme know.  Thanks again.

 

                                                           Kevin R. Parrish