Western Express Gallops Ahead

By Mackenzie Hurlbert

Western ExpressWestern Express started in the late 70′s with one entrepreneur’s smart idea to follow a cinematic trend. A father had just found himself out of work, and decided to pursue western fashions rise in popularity. “My Dad was out of work and he started wholesaling products. At the time, western was trending and expanding. There was a big increase in western business because of the movie ‘Urban Cowboy’ in the early 80′s,” says Dan Mottsman, current co-owner of Western Express. “He steered the business toward country western and related products, and we found a successful niche. “Currently, myself and my sister Paula run the business.”

Western apparel has been a dependable niche for Mottsman’s company. “The most popular products are cowboy hats, belt buckles, western shirts, belts, and jewelry,” he adds. “We have many other product lines but those tend to be the most popular.”

Mottsman says the key to success for his business has been slow, regular growth. “Our growth has been very steady. We have never had a boom-bust cycle. We are careful and we never overextend ourselves. That has been the formula for our success: slow, continuous growth.”

Western ExpressThe challenge to most wholesale fashion suppliers is to keep up with the latest styles and trends.  Western Express does not face those pressures due to its traditional niche. “We sell a lot of things that stay in style—a lot of dependably selling products that have sold over the years. We also do sell trendy items, but one of the formulas for our success is finding those things that have staying power,” states Mottsman. “We also study fashion trends through market research, trade magazines, fashion magazines, talking with people in the western industry, and to a large degree, we learn a lot of things from our customers.  We do not have rapid change as in other fashion industries, and that is a benefit to both ourselves and our customers: that we are not always chasing the latest trend.”

As far as purchasing trends go, Mottsman notes, “During the summer season, hats and belt buckles tend to be popular. During the Christmas season, we have a big surge in western jewelry and also other gift items.”

Looking to the future of Western Express, Mottman plans to expand the wool felt lines, western shirt styles, and jewelry designs. He also hopes to increase the amount of online business Western Express does. The traditional product lines and regulated, slower growth is working for Western Express and its employees. “One of the indications of our success is that we have a very low turnover of employees and a very loyal employee base. We have had employees working with us for over 20 years. We have a very loyal customer base, also,” offers Mottsman. “We have had customers for 30 years and we pride ourselves on very good customer service.”