As a Western tack & lifestyle store and a tack manufacturer ourselves, Smith & Edwards loves spotlighting American companies who produce their wares in the U.S. This post is part of a series spotlighting American manufacturers.
Sliester is a well-known name for Western bits. Steve Dunn spoke with us about Sliester Bits’ history and where the company is today!
Tell us about Sliester’s history.
A pair of cowboys, Don & Vic Sliester, started the company in 1954 with their aluminum hackamore. At the time, my family (the Dunns) operated a deburring business. We had rock tumblers and de-burring equipment.
Don & Vic came to us to find a process to smooth and polish the bits they made. Each of the bits spends a few hours in our tumbling machines, which slowly sands the sand marks out.
As it turns out, my dad Earl Dunn wound up buying the business from Don & Vic in the 1980s, when I was 18.
Did anything change when the company changed hands?
Not much. It’s the same great quality and craftsmanship since the beginning. We’ve had the same bit builder for the last 35 years, and that’s me!
We’ve had more people helping at times, including my two brothers Jim and Earl, but I’m the one who’s stayed around from the beginning. My dad is still here with me and answers the phone and helps where he can.
All the bits are still made here in America. There’s a lot of competition now for overseas stuff. I believe in my product and I believe in keeping it American-made.
The Sliester brothers started the company in Sanger, CA. In 1980 we moved the company here to Auberry, California, which is about 20 miles from Sanger. We still make all the bits here in Auberry.
The business has always been named Frontier Supplier Inc manufacturer of Sliester Bits & Spurs. My dad kept the name when we bought it.
What do you love about continuing the Sliester tradition?
My favorite part of the business is being self-employed and working with my hands. I have made bits for some famous people, but I don’t want to say names.
Family-owned and operated – these bits are not mass-produced. If you have ever owned one, you can feel the balance.
Thanks for talking with us, Steve!
Find Sliester Bits online:
We also carry pointed and cloverleaf Rowels that Steve makes, which are also sold under the Frontier Supply name.