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Sponsor Spotlight Gist Silversmiths
Interview by Naomi Loomis, WSSRA Association Representative
“Winning the Gist World Champion WSRRA buckle was a lifelong dream, it is beautifully crafted as is all their work.” Chase Thrall-2018 WSRRA World Champion Ranch Bronc Rider
The Gist Silversmith gold and silver buckle that goes with the Western States Ranch Rodeo world championship is the ultimate trophy and treasure in the ranch rodeo sport. You can spot a Gist buckle from across a crowded room—the symbol of a lifelong dream realized.
For over 50 years, Gist Silversmiths has set the standard for silver buckle design and craftsmanship.
According to Gist, “It’s our uncompromising devotion to quality – combined with a service ethic that’s second-to-none – that makes Gist Silversmiths the choice of champions. We believe, what a champion gets should be worth what a champion gives.”
Gist Silversmiths company profile states, “Our specialty: distinctive, custom hand-crafted belt buckles. Founded in 1967 as a one-man shop, Gary Gist aspired to create a top-quality award buckle with traditional, yet stylish design. Four decades later, a staff of over one hundred, including second generation family members, continues the tradition with an expansive array of award buckles, as well as personalized buckles and ready-to-wear jewelry. Bits, spurs and saddle trim can also be customized. Each product is proudly crafted in the USA with thorough attention to detail and styling. Our marketing and sales staff works closely with each customer, thereby providing unparalleled customer service. With a range of price points determined by materials and manufacturing technologies, Gist is able to offer a belt buckle to suit most every budget.”
The Gist Silversmiths story began in 1946 when Gary Gist a son of Byron and Mickey was born. Gary and his family lived in southern California. Byron was an ornamental ironsmith. Byron also was a horseman and influenced his son to be not only a horseman but to work hard and to be the best. In fact, in 1953 at age 7, Gary entered his first jackpot with Byron. “I was riding my half Welsh and half Shetland pony named ‘Blackie’. It was a 2-steer for $1.50 a man. I remember coming home with eighteen $1 bills to show Mom. Needless to say, I was hooked on roping,” remembers Gary. Gary having a goal driven attitude joined the PRCA at the age of 12 and according to gistsilversmiths.com, Gary was 16 when he and his father competed in the Pro Rodeo World Championships and the National Finals Rodeo. This father/son duo competed at the NFR for 12 years. Gary recalls his roping career in 1964 when at the age of 18, won the NFR Average with his dad and finished second in the World standing. “We were actually the youngest father and son team around in the 50’s and 60’s”, said Gary. “And we roped so long together as a father and son team, I’m sure we were the oldest!”
At the age of 19, Gary was drafted in the Marines, he spent a couple years in Vietnam. “The “long days of sitting and waiting” while serving, gave him time to think about his future. He gave serious thought to becoming a professional silversmith and believed he could start his own business,” states Gist Silversmiths. When Gary returned home from Vietnam, he rodeod some but he decided to focus on learning how to be a silversmith. “It was tough to make a living as a rodeo cowboy, so I made my hobby a business. If I hadn’t, I probably would have ended up a broke cowboy,” states Gary. Gist Silversmiths headquarters is in the “Gold Country” of Placerville, California. Gist buckles are proud to be made in the U.S.A.
“Winning that beautifully handcrafted Gist Year End 8 Seconds Whiskey Tour buckle made every rodeo I competed at worth it,” said Joel Baer, the 2018 Champion.
“We are extremely proud to have produced the prestigious WSRRA buckles and to have worked with Marc Page since 2008,” said Wende Heinen, the Director of Sales and Media Communication for Gist Silversmiths. “Marc is a visionary and an excellent steward for preserving the cowboy traditions and ranch rodeos. His core values align with those of Gist Silversmiths and his integrity is of the highest caliber … a tenacious and dedicated servant to his affiliates and to the Gist brand. And besides that, he has a great sense of humor and has never met a stranger! We LOVE Marc!”
As a ranch rodeo producer, I appreciated the quality of the Gist Silversmith buckle. I also appreciate the customer service of Gist Silversmiths their mission, and their values. Having Gist buckles to give to my winners at ranch rodeo, adds to the highlight of my event.
Jennifer Folsom has been with Gist for just over 32 years and is currently the V.P. Marketing & Business Development. “It is a company made up of employees with a great commitment to maintaining the high quality and customer service standards established many years ago,” she said. “Gist has always been dedicated to providing superior quality product, customized to respond to each client’s needs for design and budget. Both our sales and manufacturing staff are committed to providing the very best service and quality; a goal which has continued for over 50 years since the company originated as a one-man shop through the dedication of its founder, Gary Gist. Again, we are grateful for the many years that WSRAA has trusted Gist to craft their award buckles and appreciate your effort to spotlight the company!”
As the premier award buckle manufacturer in the western lifestyle industry for now five decades, Gist has been fortunate to design awards for generations of equine and livestock enthusiasts. “Our industry partners have fueled our growth and success over the years and we try to give back whenever possible to help grow these associations and support the youth,” says Gary. “I was lucky my father introduced me to the sport of team roping and now I’m able to bring that love of the lifestyle to my grandkids! I hope that many more families in the future will continue to enjoy all that this industry has to offer and Gist wants to be a part of that in the future.”
On behalf of the WSRRA, thank you Gist Silversmiths for being one of our family and for your support of the WSRRA.