Smithbilt Hats moving from 49-year location

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Smithbilt Hats moving from 49-year location

Postby newsposter » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:10 am

Legendary Smithbilt Hats looking for room to grow

David Parker
Calgary Herald

Thursday, March 30, 2006

PHOTO CREDIT: Grant Black, Calgary Herald
Smithbilt's Bryce Nimmo says he aims to cement the firm's reputation as Western Canada's premier hat outlet.

When a young Morris Schumiatcher borrowed $300 from his bank in 1919 to purchase Calgary Hat Works, Smithbilt Hats was born. After working with local businessmen and the Stampede board to promote western wear for spectators as well as cowboys, he was able to increase the production of western hats and in 1946 created his first white cowboy hat.

In 1947, he moved the company into a new building at 1235 10th Ave. S.W. It's been there ever since, but today the home of Smithbilt is listed for sale and the Calgary manufacturer is looking for new space.

The assets and name of Smithbilt Hats were purchased this past January by a group of Calgary investors headed by president Bryce Nimmo. He had spent 17 years with Prudential Steel before joining Cameron Management as vice-president, sales and marketing. He left to open his own business development consulting firm and took on Smithbilt as a client.

Nimmo felt there was a good opportunity for the firm to grow and is now operating the company and looking to improve customer service and quality, and restore the faith of suppliers.

The partners are dedicated to the promotion of western values and traditions and are all members of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo Committee, which Nimmo chairs. They are committed to moving the legendary Smithbilt name forward with a focus on increasing sales through alliances with the Stampede, Tourism Calgary, and through the wholesale market.

Nimmo says he plans for Smithbilt to be recognized as Western Canada's top hat store.

But he only has a one-year lease on his building, so he has to find a new home for his machinery and staff who cut, press, shape and sew some 500 wool and fur felt hats per day.

The 8,500-square-foot single storey building located in Calgary's bustling Design District has been put up for sale by the owner through Alan Zivot of Avison Young Commercial Real Estate at an asking price of $1.65 million. Probably best suited for re-development, the site is ideal for retail or office use.

I hope Nimmo preserves the Smithbilt Hats sign above the door -- it's part of Calgary's history.

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Note from newsposter: The photoshopped image below of the Smithbilt Hats factory (it ain't in the mountains - it's on 10th Avenue SW!) is from
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