About Sur Tan® Mfg Co

The Sur Tan® family spans four generations in the manufacturing and designing of leather goods crafted & produced in the USA. Today, we are re-introducing our most popular styles from the 60’s and 70’s using some of the talents we acquired over our lifetime.

The Sur Tan® Brothers, Steve & Richie, inspecting leather straps.

Our History

Sur Tan® represents 4 generations of innovative leather craftsmanship and leather products manufacturing in the U.S.A. including:

  • BELTS (men’s & women’s casual, dress, outdoor, work, western, exotic)
  • HATS & VISORS (incl. Sur Tan’s unique “Barn Cap”)
  • KNIFE SHEATHS (inc. Sur Tan’s patented “Quick Draw” sheath)
  • WRIST STRAPS (incl. Sur Tan’s patented “Quick Pick” wrist strap)

1965: Richie started manufacturing leather sandals that were immediately well-received by individual customers, so Richie expanded the business by taking wholesale orders from retail shops.

1966: Steve joined Richie in the business.

1967: Richie and Steve saw an expanding need for additional leather products, including jackets, skirts and belts for men and women.

1968: Richie and Steve were approached by a manufacturer of leather gun slings and other outdoor products, who wanted to expand the business and had extra space at his location for leather manufacturing activity.

Richie and Steve partnered with this manufacturer and added their talents by designing new leather products and selling the company’s products. At this time, an outside salesman in New York City area was added.

1971: Richie and Steve decided to pursue a new challenge in the marketplace and struck out on their own to design and manufacture their own leather products. Their decision was to move away from garments and concentrate on men’s and women’s leather belts.

The new business, American Belt Co., expanded rapidly by selling wholesale to small retail boutiques as well as larger retailers in the northeast U.S., including Filene’s and Jordan-Marsh.

Richie and Steve moved the business into a new factory location to accommodate the manufacturing machinery and space for an expanding raw materials and finished goods inventory.

At the urging of Filene’s, Richie and Steve developed and registered a change in the new company’s name to Sur Tan® Mfg. Co.

At this time, Richie and Steve opened-up a new relationship with a rapidly-expanding retailer, ChessKing, which had 35 outlets in 1971 and grew to over 500 stores. At the height of its success, ChessKing placed 20,000-piece orders for Sur Tan leather belt products.

1976: Richie and Steve began to see a growth in imports of cheaper, lower-quality from China and other low labor cost countries. They decided to seek new opportunities for leather products.

At the time, Richie and Steve were avid motorcyclists, and they saw a need for high-quality leather products suited perfectly to the needs of motorcyclist enthusiasts.

So, Richie and Steve began to design and manufacture leather motorcycle saddlebags, jackets, vests and chaps.

Sur Tan’s initiative and innovation created a new direction and literally revolutionized the direction of motorcycle gear in the U.S.

In addition to motorcycle gear, Sur Tan® began to produce women’s leather handbags for small retail boutiques and larger retailers, such as Neiman-Marcus.

1988: Again, Sur Tan® saw leather manufacturing move offshore to cheaper labor markets and low-cost manufacturing locations.

Richie and Steve decided to re-design the business to a combination of retail sales and customized leather manufacturing.

Sur Tan opened-up a new location in South Yarmouth, Cape Cod, MA with a retail shop and manufacturing space to accommodate Sur Tan®’s leather manufacturing machinery.

Sur Tan®’s retail shop was designed to exhibit all of the leather products manufactured by Richie and Steve plus an expanded inventory of western wear (shirts, trousers, western boots, saddles) and western art (silver and turquoise jewelry).

Sur Tan®’s leather manufacturing activity would concentrate on creating new, innovative leather products and customization of leather products to suit individual customer tastes in order to compete with low-cost offshore products.

2012: Richie and Steve began to see a shift in customer taste away from low-cost offshore products and toward high-quality products manufactured in the U.S.A. However, the recessionary economy that started in 2007 – 2008 was keeping a damper on sales of discretionary products.

2016: Richie and Steve decided to reach out to new wholesale clients that are highly successful and expanding retailers with both catalog, Internet website and store sales in the U.S.

In particular, Richie and Steve are reaching out to successful retailers who stand for:

  • High-quality products leather products
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Innovative products that create effective product differentiation 
  • Customized products to suit individual customer tastes
  • Leather products that exceed demanding customer expections and achieve sales leadership in highly-competitive markets

Sur Tan® seeks to build mutually-beneficial partnerships with successful sales agents and refresh its wholesale business activity plus continue Sur Tan®’s ability to develop fresh innovative products some of which are currently under development.