Richard Connor: A door opens and we boot up a new partnership

(Photo by Glen E. Ellman)

Why do clichés become clichés?

Probably because they’re true.

Here’s one: “When one door closes, another opens.”

Welcome to Fort Worth, Rod Patrick Bootmakers, and thank you for your new partnership with the Fort Worth Business Press as the official boot sponsor for all of our events.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

There are now 40 Fort Worth young professionals who will soon be fitted for custom, handmade boots courtesy of Rod Patrick Bootmakers. They are the recent honorees at our Forty Under Forty event.

Last week I wrote about the withdrawal as boot sponsor and partner with us by Justin Boots, a legendary Fort Worth business that recently eliminated the jobs of several longtime top executives and moved much of its corporate activities to a Berkshire Hathaway shoe division in Connecticut. I had phoned the president to ask that he reconsider the corporate decision but he did not call back.

After my column appeared, my mailbox was flooded with notes from others in Fort Worth who have watched Justin’s commitment to local partnerships and sponsorships wane. We all longed for John Justin’s style of personal and direct leadership and his commitment to local causes.

As luck would have it, this week Justin reconsidered dumping us and at 11:18 a.m. Wednesday sent an email offering to continue our partnership, which required them to donate boots to many of the award recipients we have each year at our signature events.

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The problem was that at 9:54 a.m. Wednesday I had accepted the Rod Patrick offer to be our boot sponsor.

Bobby Smith, president of the company, phoned and wanted me to know that his company was not “corporate” and the hierarchy, if there is one, could make quick, local business decisions.

“I want to be your boot sponsor,” he said. “I read your article.”

His company is owned by Cinch Jeans, headquartered in Denver, and has just moved into new offices and a combination store/showroom at 2900 West 6th Street. They are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9-4. If those hours don’t suit you, you can make an appointment by phoning 817-599-5200.

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Rod Patrick boots retail for $500 and up. The company and the Fort Worth store specialize in custom fitting, offering boots sized 4 to 17 and up to Double E and Quad A. You visit the store for the custom fitting.

This is called customer service.

“We’re true to Western values, the cowboy way and the cowboy’s word,” said Smith, 58, wiry, fit, and full of high octane energy. He laughs often and easily in a disarming, cowboy way. You’d never know he’s a Midwesterner.

Raised in Bloomington, Illinois, he started showing Quarter Horses when he was eight and went to work at a western store in his hometown at 16. He stayed through high school and college and then moved on to a career in brand sales and management. He’s spent 22 years at the corporate sales and executive level, the last 20 with Cinch Jeans, which bought the boot company six years ago.

There is a real “Rod Patrick,” and he sold the company, then based in Weatherford, to privately owned Cinch six years ago. The parent company has been in the Western wear industry for over 100 years.

Working in Denver at the parent company when it bought Rod Patrick, Smith walked into the office of the company’s CEO and owner and told him he wanted to run the boot company and keep it in North Texas.

Smith said owner David Dean looked up from a cup of coffee and asked, “When are you moving?”

Smith and wife Kelly settled in Fort Worth and a year ago the decision was made to move the boot company from Weatherford to Fort Worth. He said Fort Worth and Rod Patrick Bootmakers go together like hand and glove, if you can say that about boots.

“There’s no better city in the country to do what we do,” he said.

The Smiths’ two adult daughters live in Fort Worth and the bootmaker’s parent company sponsors the National Cutting Horse Association, which is headquartered here.

It was Kelly who saw the door open when another one closed. She had taken some photography classes at Fort Worth Camera and when the camera store moved to its new Montgomery Street location, she told Bobby the West 6th Street location would be ideal for the boot company’s flagship store.

“I wanted to be near Will Rogers and have plenty of parking,” said Smith. “This is perfect.

After my column a week ago, one of the first messages came from a family-owned business CEO. He wrote of Justin’s departure:

“Perhaps this creates an opportunity for a new Ft. Worth boot maker. Small companies sometimes get golden opportunities because large companies forget what they owe the community.”

Bobby Smith saw the opportunity and seized it.

When we met to shake hands on the new deal – and a handshake, the John Justin way, was all it took – it seemed natural to ask if fries came with this burger.

“Sure,” said Bobby, “we’ll also throw in a pair of Cinch jeans for your winners.”

It was cinched with just one phone call before that offer, but the jeans really Cinched it, boots and all.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at