Toowoomba Saddlery is a Wholesale Manufacturing business.
** We only supply to genuine saddlery retail outlets, manufacturing businesses and also suppliers to the saddlery trade. We do not sell directly to the general public from our website or through our warehouse **
With 50+ years of experience in the Leather trade, Toowoomba Saddlery is a Manufacturer and Wholesaler offering a wide range of leather, hardware and materials for saddlers and craftsmen alike. Along with stocking products e.g. Saddles and Tack that we supply only to Retail outlets.
Established in 1968 Toowoomba Saddlery is a family owned and operated business and is based in Toowoomba, Australia. While servicing over 700 stores Australia wide we also have established distributors in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Italy, Japan, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Philippines & Vanuatu. Making us one of the largest saddle manufacturers and distributors in the Southern Hemisphere.
The History of Toowoomba Saddlery
At the age of fourteen, a young Garth Delbridge left school to accept a saddlery apprenticeship with local Toowoomba firm James Rogers and Sons. Upon completion Garth pursued other employment opportunities within Toowoomba. However, his time was not lost, and he continued to work at home after hours and on weekends. It became obvious that he and his wife Sandra would have to become involved in the industry on a full time basis. Toowoomba Saddlery was founded in 1968, in a timber double garage behind their home in Taylor Street where they began producing leather strapping for Butler Brothers in Brisbane and repairing saddles.
When Toowoomba Saddlery first opened, there were more than nine saddleries in Brisbane, six in Toowoomba as well as many private saddle makers working from their sheds. They were supported by one tannery in Toowoomba as well as many others in Brisbane. Packers Tannery in Nerangba is the only tannery that remains operational today.
In 1969 leather strapping and repairs remained the backbone of the business however there had been enough growth to warrant the opening of a proper shop front, which was done on Anzac Avenue with Mr Robert (Bob) Edwards later becoming their first employee and apprentice. Back then a saddlery tradesman’s pay was $58.00 per week while a first year apprentice earned only $10.85 per week. A saddlery apprenticeship was five years long and you worked a forty hour week with only two weeks annual leave.
With the business growing Syd Hill and Sons, which were located in Brisbane, appointed Toowoomba Saddlery as an agent for them in 1973. Sales of both the new Syd Hill Saddles and leather strapping increased at such a rapid rate, a brick shed was constructed behind Garth and Sandra’s house in 1974 just to store the saddles. Toowoomba Saddlery now had exclusive agents in four countries and were actively exporting to twelve countries on a regular basis.
By 1977 the business had out-grown the Anzac Avenue store and so a new premise was built, this time in Hill Street, Toowoomba. To meet demand, it was necessary to carry two to three hundred brand new Syd Hill saddles in stock for immediate dispatch. Toowoomba Saddlery also continued to do repairs and manufacture some leather strapping. In thirty seven years, until the agency’s end in 2010, Toowoomba Saddlery sold in excess of thirty-five thousand Syd Hill Saddles. Back then, the wholesale price for a new Syd Hill Barcoo Poley was $210.00 and a side of saddle leather from Johnson Tannery was $15.00 per side.
Garth obtained his pilot’s license and a brand new Cessna 172 aircraft, which really opened up Toowoomba Saddlery to the remote parts of Australia. With air travel now possible to locations such as Alice Springs, Darwin, Broome, and more, Australia had its own flying saddler. Due to the long distances (some which had to be flown at night), the plane was upgraded to the faster twin engine Beechcraft Travelair in 1982. It also carried more fuel, making travel from Toowoomba to Darwin possible in ten hours with one fuel stop instead of four full days by road. The Beechcraft Travelair was upgraded in 1986 to a more modern, even faster six seat Cessna 210 Centurion to cover these long distances.
In 1992 Toowoomba saddlery became an agent for Wintan Tannery, NSW. This saw another growth phase, with the business emerging as a supplier to manufacturers in the saddlery trade. The leather agency ended with the close of the tannery in 1997.
Other products were sought to complement the supply of leather. Following overseas trips distributorships were successfully established for the manufacture and supply of saddlery hardware and raw materials. We are still purchasing from these companies to this very day.
With demand for quality saddlery leather increasing and many tanneries in Australia closing, Toowoomba Saddlery was appointed as a distributor for Hermann Oak Leather Company, USA in 1994. Staff could not believe how popular this leather was, the first two pallets sold virtually as quick as they were unpacked. Today the distributorship continues, with regular imports of forty foot containers. This did present one problem – storage space. Having outgrown the Hill Street premises, a brand new 1400 square metre warehouse and office complex was purchased at 266 – 268 McDougall Street, Toowoomba in 1994. Continued growth meant the addition of a mezzanine floor in 2008 and remains the current place of business.
By 2012, Toowoomba Saddlery was importing more than sixty-four tonnes of leather each year and supplying 1200 stores and saddlers throughout Australia. To keep up with demand Toowoomba Saddlery took delivery of a custom-made leather cutting press from Taiwan.
Over the years Toowoomba Saddlery has expanded its range to include synthetic tack and other items. Despite added competition the business remains strong, supplying hundreds of distributors in Australia, several overseas as well as numerous saddle and tack manufacturers.
Toowoomba Saddlery is now in its 50th year of business. Today the business is still solely owned and operated by the Delbridge Family with Garth & Sandra’s son Robert appointed as the Managing Director.
The success of Toowoomba Saddlery is in no small part due to the progressive attitude, experience and loyalty of the management and staff, as well as feedback from our loyal distributors. This experience is invaluable to the ongoing development of new products and the continuing high standard of products manufactured on a daily basis.