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Rios of Mercedes Handmade Boots A True Asset to the Valley and Texas

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Pat Moody President and Ryan Vaughan, General Manager for Rios of Mercedes Handmade Boots.    Photo PolluxCastor, Inc.
Pat Moody President and Ryan Vaughan, General Manager for Rios of Mercedes Handmade Boots.
Photo PolluxCastor, Inc.

From Mercedes to the World

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint Edition

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Rios of Mercedes Boot Company has been and is the pride of South Texas. The company started in 1853 and thanks to visionaries and hardworking individuals the company has acquired a predominant place with domestic retailers as well as retailers all over the world.

Ryan Vaughan, General Manager of the company pointed out that they sell to stores like Cavender’s, Boot Barn, a private label account for Ralph Lauren’s RRL as well family owned western stores like Crazy House in Reno, Texas and Boot City in Lubbock, Texas. “We also sell outside of the U.S. and service accounts in Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France.”

They operate two factories, and employ approximately 110 employees between both factories, manufacturing beautiful boots. Rios of Mercedes boots are the works of proud craftsmen whose attention to detail comes from the heart and years of experience.

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Ryan said, “Our success is attributable to the quality of their work and their dedication to their customer base. He was quick to say that, “We seek the Lord’s direction in everything we do.”

Ryan indicated that their short and long-term plans are to continue manufacturing good, quality boots and they are planning to expand their Rios production. “There are great opportunities to expand our market share with the Rios of Mercedes line, our ladies fashion line, Macie Bean and our men’s line, Anderson Bean.”

“I get satisfaction out of dealing with suppliers, creating and designing boots, and manufacturing. In essence, it’s the fact that we can imagine something, build it, and then deliver it.”

When asked what sets them apart from competition Ryan responded, “We listen to our retailers. They ask for something, we do it and we deliver a high quality product to the market quicker than other people can.”

He told Texas Border Business there is one thing he would do different if he had the chance to do it again, “Learning Spanish, it’s really important and I didn’t focus on it at an early age; I didn’t think I would need it as much I need it now.” Today he thinks differently; his daughters attend a dual language Catholic school so they can learn it at an early age.

Ryan expressed that what is most important to him is, “Serving the good Lord and living His will on earth, serving my family, my wife, and giving glory to Him in everything we do.”

Company Background 

Rios of Mercedes, Anderson Bean, and Olathe Boot Companies

Rios of Mercedes Handmade Boots traces its roots to 1853 when the Rios family began to make boots in General Teran, Mexico.  Around the turn of the century when things became unsettled in Mexico and civil war was being fomented, the Rios family moved to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas settling near what was to become Mercedes, Texas.

Rios family members continued to make boots near there. When in the 1960s, the last of them, Zeferino Rios, began to face retirement, he sold the company to a group from West Texas.  One of the members of that group, Joe Evans, moved to Mercedes, Texas to run the factory.

In 1973, Joe Evans asked Trainor Evans to join him in the business.  Trainor Evans quickly learned the manufacturing process and re-organized the factory to make it more efficient.  Very soon the Evans’ bought out the other investors and expanded the business.

In 1983, J. P. Moody became associated with the company and was named sales manager in 1985.  Reacting to the need for a well-made cowboy boot line in the medium price range, the Evans’ and Moody started Anderson Bean Boot Company to fill that need.  Anderson Bean grew slowly at first and then began to be recognized as a good value for the price at which time the brand began to expand its dealer network throughout Texas and surrounding states.  A few years ago, demand outstripped supply and Anderson Bean began to import Horse Power boots from Leon, Guanajuato Mexico.

Horse Power is a lower price point boot for the person who would like to look the part of an Anderson Bean wearer at a lower cost.  Growth in the Horse Power line has been very strong leading the company to decide to add Macie Bean ladies fashion boots to the assortment.

The Macie Bean boots have been designed with the help of Jode Vaughan to appeal to the younger fashion savvy lady. This segment of the business is growing very rapidly.

Upon his retirement from the business, Joe Evans sold the company to Trainor Evans and J. P. Moody.  Today, the company is owned and managed by Evans, Moody, and Ryan Vaughan with Evans serving as CEO and Chairman of the Board, Moody as President, and Vaughan as Vice-president and General Manager.

Moody is nearing retirement and Vaughan will assume his duties as Sales Manager. Vaughan’s current duties will be partially assumed by Carlos Rodriguez who currently serves as Production Manager.

Olathe Boot Company is the successor to C. H. Hyer and Sons. The Olathe Boot Company began making cowboy boots in 1875 in Olathe, Kansas near the Kansas City stockyards.  At that time, many owners drove their cattle to Kansas City and came to Olathe to order boots.

The Hyer heirs sold the company in the 1970’s and some former employees of the company formed Olathe Boot Company.

Several individuals and groups owned Olathe Boot Company over the years until at last the cost to make the boots in Olathe Kansas became prohibitive.

On 2001, in an effort to save the company, the owner of Olathe Boot Company came to Western Leather Goods seeking help in order to solve his cost of manufacturing problems.  A merger was suggested but was determined to be unfeasible.

Finally the decision was made for Western Leather Goods to buy certain assets from Olathe Boot Company and move production to Mercedes, Texas.  The transaction was completed in February of 2001 and production moved immediately to Mercedes, Texas.  Olathe has always had a very loyal following in the Northwest, Midwest, and Mountain States and continues to have it to this day.

In 2009, the need arose for a lower price point boot to compete with imported boots of the style Olathe was known to produce.  The Cowboy Collection by Olathe was introduced at the Denver Market in January 2009.

The Cowboy Collection is an extremely high quality; all leather cowboy boot made in Mexico by one of the finest boot makers there and can stand comparison with anything made in the United States.

The Cowboy Collection by Olathe line continues to grow and styles continue to expand.  One of the most interesting innovations is the combination of all leather construction for fit and long wear with synthetic rubber outsoles for traction and long wear in rugged, wet conditions.  This combination of style with functionality has struck a cord with the consumer and it is believed this is where the consumer will lead Olathe Boot Company in the future.

Olathe Boot Company is under the direction of Evans, Vaughan, and Moody with the same persons managing all aspects of the business from design through production and on to accounting.

Rios of Mercedes Boot Co. and Anderson Bean Boot Co. Recognize Faithful Employees With Long Record of Service

At Rios of Mercedes and Anderson Bean Boot Co., they feel fortunate to have over a hundred extremely loyal employees. Many of these employees have worked many years for the company to create the highest quality products. The following are just a few of the many who deserve to be recognized.

Arturo Jilpas, Jr. has been working for 32 years, having served as Production Manager for 25 years prior to becoming a Floor Manager for both companies.  He started working in shipping while in high school and later worked in cutting boots for seven years before becoming Production Manager.  “There are many different leathers that we use like Alligator, Ostrich or Calf Skin and I am able to look at a skin and tell you how many pairs of boots we can produce out of them.  This in turn keeps our yields up and prices down so we can pass the savings on to our customers.” He oversees both factories to ensure availability of materials and all the equipment is working smoothly.

José Antonio Plasencia has been with the company for 44 years and specializes in the fittings of the boots by stitching together the top shafts with the vamps, which is the foot area.  He also stitches the hard counter, which is the back end where the heel rests. A Roper Boot would have less of an angle than a riding boot would have because of the difference in the height.  He also specializes in boots that take zippers on certain styles.

Domingo Ruiz specializes in the beautiful and intricate inlay work with brands, company logos, and cording; he has been with the company for 33 years.  He also specializes and does a lot of the boot fittings along with Jose Antonio.

Aurora Flores, who has been with the company for 39 years, has several different responsibilities with the accounting department.  A stickler for details, she reviews invoices and is responsible for keeping accurate financial records and generating reports for the company. TBB

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