Sam Silver opened his first hat store on Main Street in Houston, Texas in 1915. His son, Bubba Silver (shown above left), was 8 years old when he started spending time at the store. He continued to learn at his father’s right hand until Sam passed away in 1948.
In 1949, Bubba bought more equipment and rented a 5,000 square foot space in Houston on Preston Street. Bubba Silver was the first person to introduce waterproof straw hats. Some things don’t change! Over 100 years after the company was founded, American Hat Company is still the only cowboy hat company to produce waterproof straw hats.
Sam Silver always said, “I am proud of the fact that a great many professional cowboys choose to wear our products over other brands. They always appreciate a hat that holds its shape and color.”
The Silver Family owned American Hat Company and Bubba ran it himself until 1984 when Bill and Billie George bought it.
American Hat Company is now owned by Keith and Susan Maddox and located in Bowie, Texas.
Keith Maddox is a legend in the western industry. Plain and simple. His hard work, perseverance, love for the cowboy lifestyle, focus on quality, and infectious laugh are all traits of this great and iconic American cowboy.
Keith grew up on his family’s ranch and began rodeoing at a young age, much like his father. He took to the bull riding and bareback riding and was competing in professional rodeos well before the age of 18. He graduated from Eastern Oregon University in 1971 and immediately began what would be a very long and successful career in the western industry. Mr. Maddox first worked for a few different companies such as Tem-Tex Clothing and Heyer Boot Company. In 1972, Keith filled a spot that many people in the western industry yearned for: a sales representative in Wyoming for Tony Lama Boots.
Tony Lama was THE brand of boot to have in the 1970’s and Keith Maddox would soon become THE salesman for the thriving company. Always ready for a challenge, it soon became very apparent to Keith that Texas was his next endeavor. He soon answered the call and moved south to service the Fort Worth and East Texas area for Tony Lama. It wasn’t long and he was once again on top.
Another challenge successfully tackled, he tucked it under his belt and tried his hand with the Larry Mahan Boot Company and once again skyrocketed sales for his employer. However, it wasn’t enough for the ambitious cowboy. He was itching to own his own piece of the western industry and he had just the brand in mind.
He set his sights on American Hat Company in Conroe, Texas. He met with the owners, Bill and Billie George, and they agreed upon a price of $10 million. Mr. Maddox left and returned again later with payment only to find that the owners had decided to give the company to their children. If you ask Keith today, he will say he was so heated that he couldn’t help but try to tear the steering wheel out of his truck as he left. Not one to be discourage for long though, he had a new plan and didn’t waste any time putting it in motion.
In 1996, Keith opened The Best Hat Store in the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. He not only sold cowboy hats, he learned how to make the best cowboy hat possible and made them right there in the Fort Worth location. Though they no longer make hats there, the Maddox family still owns the retail store over 20 years later.
Seven years after Keith opened The Best Hat Store, he caught wind that American Hat Company was going bankrupt. He wasted no time in buying the business from the bank and began reviving it to its former glory. His first act was to move the company from Conroe to Bowie, Texas.
A mere two years after Mr. Maddox bought the company, he lost $13 million worth of inventory to a grass fire in 2005. Keith put up everything he had and was prepared to lose it all on this dream he fought so hard for. He borrowed money, took out another mortgage on his house, and even used his retirement to get back to square one. He tirelessly poured his blood, sweat, and tears into something he believed in. He didn’t give up, and five years later, American Hat Company was back on track.
Keith persevered when many would have thrown in the towel. When asked what he thought during those hard times, he says, “I always knew it would turn out this way, I just never knew it would take this long. But here we are now! Still making the finest cowboy hat you can get when everybody else started going the cheap route.” No matter how many times you hear him say that, it will always be with that smile that only he has, a little chuckle, and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
Keith Maddox, The Hat King, passed away on Wednesday, September 4, 2019. A Celebration of Life was held exactly one month later at the Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards on October 4, 2019. Western industry legends came from all over the country to celebrate The Hat King, his legacy, his contributions to the industry, and give their love to the Maddox Family.
Keith’s beloved wife, Susan Maddox, has stepped into the role of the Hat Queen that she has always been to further American Hat Company and keep Keith’s legacy alive. As a woman of many traits and qualities, Susan is an inspiration to all not only in the western industry but all industries. She is a class act that is notorious for her positive outlook, friendliness, and sophisticated style. Susan will continue to oversee American Hat Company with the same passion Keith has always had and promises to keep the best quality out there in the market. As one chapter has closed, we are proud to introduce Susan as the Matriarch of American Hat Company.
The American Cowboy Hat – The cowboy hat is the most recognizable piece of clothing in the world and represents the traditions and values of the iconic American Cowboy. These traditions and values are why our goal for the next 100 years is to continue to provide the finest quality, American-made cowboy hats to you, our customers, a cowboy hat you can be proud to put your name on and sell to your customers.
The American Difference – Only one cowboy hat can live up to the standard of style, quality, and durability you expect from an American-made product, and that is one made by American Hat Company.
Style – American Hat Company takes great pride in designing new weaves and shipping the majority of our hats with an open and flat brim so you can have your hat custom shaped to reflect your own individual style.
Quality – American Hat Company’s process for making cowboy hats is hands-on all the way through production. Each one of our hand-woven hats is put through a rigorous inspection process before it is shipped.
Durability – Our straw hats are double lacquered and double pressed, while our felts are hand finished, making them the most durable hat on the market today. Come rain, mud, or shine, you can stand tall and proud in your American Hat.
About American Hat Company – Quality, tradition, and classic style… It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about saddles, boots, or cowboy hats when they’re handmade in Texas, these are the things you’ve come to expect. For over 100 years, American Hat Company has been committed to producing the finest quality, handmade cowboy hats in the world.