Tecovas Owner Response: Boot Jack

My most recent blog post took Tecovas Boots to task for offering a boot jack for US$95. A friend contacted the company, and a few of their replies from customer service staff were posted as comments on that blog post.

This caught the Tecovas Boots owner’s attention. The owner, Paul Hedrick, submitted a reply to that blog post. Rather than post the comment (which wouldn’t be as searchable or findable), I thought his message deserved its own post, below, and my response follows after that. Read on…

Howdy BHD –

Paul, founder of Tecovas here. First of all, thank you so much for all the kind words and your support as a customer over the years. I have enjoyed reading your reviews in the past (but have relished them without saying ‘thank you’ – we love getting honest feedback!). I figured I’d let you know what was going on over here in Austin straight from the horse’s mouth!

The Tecovas Boot Jack has been a story in the works for a long time — and let me first say that I am very happy with how it turned out (it’s something we’re really proud to put our name on). Boot jacks have, of course, been around for as long as cowboy boots have. In fact, they’ve been around for so long as a ‘utility’ tool that the market treated it as such — there are a plethora of $10, $25, and $35-$50 boot jacks all over the internet and at western and hardware stores. Many of them work great — even perfectly — as a handy boot removal tool. In fact, for this reason, we had no desire to try to solve a market problem that didn’t seem to exist by making our own. Plenty of brands make them in China — or with cheap materials in our own backyard — and the ‘Tecovas price-value’ solution simply didn’t seem necessary.

But honestly, I started down a rabbit hole one day. We wanted to make or purchase a boot jack that fit with our beautiful Showroom in Austin. First, it was really hard to find a boot jack that felt worthy of placing next to our exotic boots, nice leather furniture, cowhide rugs, and western art. Most of them, frankly, look as nice as they cost (and they’re quite affordable). I have been interested in beautiful craftsmanship for a long time (hence my search for where to make the most beautiful, high-craftsmanship boots in the world), and I wondered if there was anyone making beautiful, craftsman-level carpentry in the boot removal space.

Turns out, there were a few, and we at Tecovas decided to splurge on a couple beautiful, heat-bended, leather-enwrapped boot jacks (they were well over $200, but they were handcrafted and simply more beautiful than anything else on the market). We didn’t think much of it – it was an investment in our customers at the Showroom. But then — people started asking about it. Again and again.

Let me take a step back and clarify what Tecovas’’core mission is: It is NOT to make the most affordable products on the market. If this were the case, we would be heading straight to China and offering bottom-barrel boots for less than $100. Our goal is, in fact, to make the absolute best — the most timeless, beautiful, simple, classic, highest-end — products in the western category… then sell them for a direct-to-consumer markup (~2X instead of 4-5X+, which you would pay at any wholesale-retailer). For our boots, that means starting at $225 for goods that use the materials and artisan construction of boots that start in the $400-600 range.

Our mission is the same with the Boot Jack, which was in design and development for over a year. We weren’t trying to fill a gap in the $25-50 market. Similar to the cowboy boot world, where there are actually plenty of cheap, ugly, but plenty-functional boots in the $100-200 range), we wanted to take the absolute best product on the market — and bring it into our range with the same markup as everything else. Turns out, it is really hard to cut, sand, and piece together these guys at scale. We employed a world-class furniture maker down the road from our bootmakers for carpentry — then leather goods artisans down the road from them to execute our unique folded and tacked leather band. We want to pay people fairly for this work — so it ain’t cheap (in fact, it costs more than most retail boot jacks just for the labor).

So that’s how we got here – and we’re damn proud of it! We’re happy to shoot you one so you can give us your own thoughts. But I wanted to give someone who has been a great supporter my honest thoughts vs. letting my team handle it – I hope you enjoy the backstory!

Feel free to contact any time – and keep rocking those boots,

Paul

I am please to receive attention and response from the company owner, and thank Paul for taking the time to write. Much better than simple cut-and-paste pat responses that customer service folks send out (which as a method to manage repetitive questions, I understand why that’s done.)

My primary issue is that, to me, a boot jack is a tool, not a piece of furniture. Paul acknowledges as much in his response. While on display in the company’s showroom with “exotic boots, nice leather furniture, cowhide rugs, and western art,” such a high-end boot jack would look good, and I can understand why it would get attention and be asked about.

However, in context of regular home-use of a tool… I keep my boot-removing and pull-on tools (boot jacks and boot hooks) in the place where I take off (and pull on) my boots — my bedroom. And for a Bootguy like me, I have duplicates of these tools also in my boot closet in my basement.

But in my living room and family room where I also have nice furniture, hand-made Persian carpets, and quality display artwork (paintings and my oldest brother’s award-winning photographic art), a boot jack doesn’t quite fit the decor. Also, if I took my boots off in those rooms and left them lying around, Spouse would have my head.

To me, a tool is a tool. I’m fine with a $10 hammer, even if a company is offering a nickel-plated hammer at $100. Same, for me, with boot jacks.

I appreciate that Paul offered to “shoot” me one of Tecovas’ boot jacks for my opinion. I am grateful for the offer, but decline. I have enough, thanks, and don’t need another one. I do not write this blog or boot reviews to try to get free stuff. (Though I have accepted gifts of some products, that’s not the purposes of this blog or my website.)

I also want to recognize and extend appreciation for something else that Paul said, “We want to pay people fairly for this work — so it ain’t cheap.” Thank you for paying fair wages, even in Mexico where your boots are made and where there is no such thing as “fair wages” or even a “minimum wage.” Yes, I am a consumer who will pay more for fair-wage made products. But sorry, not $95 for a boot jack. Just not me.

Life is short: understand and share information for all to learn. Recognize and appreciate principled people, such as Paul of Tecovas.

4 thoughts on “Tecovas Owner Response: Boot Jack

  1. I, too, got very prompt and courteous replies to my emails to Tecovas. They didn’t offer to send me a jack, though. Lol.

    The emails to me stated essentially what the owner’s response was to you… sure, there are boot jacks that are cheap, but we are making something that can be displayed in any room of your house. A work of art, in other words.

    So it all comes down to fuction vs. beauty. I am with you on function being important in a bootjack over beauty. I pointed out to the representative that after a few uses, the wood will get scratched up (even if it is handcrafted out of beech…which only runs $6.50 per board foot, by the way) and the leather will get dinged up. How likely will someone then want to have that bootjack in the living room? Not I. If I want a bootjack that looks good for display I would get a vintage cast-iron model. And even the best of those does not run $95.

    Function vs. Beauty… In the case of a bootjack, function wins every time. With boots, I want something beautiful. If I wanted function, I would get a pair of black ropers instead of tall boots with high heels and alligator overlays.

  2. Thanks for posting the reply, BHD!

    I’m glad we can appreciate both sides of the perspective here – we definitely agree. Now that I have my fair share of failed Tecovas Boot Jack samples, I have some that I can beat up, too… ha!

    And to respond to @wc here in the first comment, we definitely agree. There’s a time and a place for different types of boots (e.g., workhorse ropers vs. alligator dress boots), and therefore there’s a time and a place for different types of boot jacks. That’s where we come in!

    Cheers,
    Paul

    • Thank you for participating on this blog and in this discussion. I wish you and your company continued success.

  3. To. Paul: you may want to consider adding another bootjack at a lower price point in addition to your museum-quality piece. That way both Beauty and Function can be met.

    Not a piece of junk, mind you. But something practical yet beautiful which does not have the same steep price. After all, beech wood is only $6.50 a board foot. Lol.

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