- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

HAYDEN, Idaho (AP) - HAYDEN - Thomas Tedder’s wife kicked him out of the kitchen five years ago for dabbling in making gun holsters so he went instead to his dilapidated shed.

“I’d get $100 worth of scrap leather and plastic and just go at it,” Tedder said. “I enjoy making things, so I made a few for friends and sold some here and there.”

Tedder, a computer programmer in Fort Smith, Arkansas, at the time, was onto something that led him to starting Tedder Industries.

The manufacturer of concealed gun holsters moved into its administrative offices and manufacturing facility in Hayden in 2013. It still has a manufacturing plant in Arkansas, but the plan is to consolidate all of its operations under one roof in a building to be built in Post Falls next to Kimball Office.

“We’d like to start building in six months,” said Tedder, adding that’s contingent upon permit approvals. “Our growth has been incredible.”

The company employed 30 people two years ago, but its workforce has since ballooned to 132.

“We’re hiring 20 people now, so this summer we should be around 150,” Tedder said.

Not too shabby for a 37-year-old father of four.

Tedder said the company is producing “several hundred” holsters per day. He declined to be more specific on the number, citing proprietary information. He estimates that it takes less than 10 minutes to manufacture each holster, which cost between $30 and $36 each.

“Inexpensive, but not cheap,” he said. “We sell a great product at an amazing price.”

The holsters are sold under the brand names Alien Gear and Old Faithful.

Most of the company’s sales are online. Buyers specify at www.aliengearholsters.com the type of gun they have, whether they’re left- or right-handed, the type of material they want, if they want to wear the holster inside or outside the waistband and other information. Neoprene - wetsuit material - is used on the back side of the holsters to increase comfort.

The holsters come with a lifetime warranty and parts pack. If owners buy a different gun, Tedder will send them a new shell for the holster for free.

“Our customers love that,” Tedder said. “Our holsters are not going to be in the bottom of the drawer and not used anymore.”

Tedder said the state that his company sells to the most is Texas - Idaho is 35th - and the top city is Houston. He said that’s simply because of the population density in those areas.

“Concealed carry is also catching on in California and out in the country where the sheriffs are relaxed,” he said.

Tedder said his company’s sales are on pace to double last year’s number.

“We’re about a month and a half out on orders right now,” Tedder said. “We caught up three years ago - for two days.”

Tedder said whenever politicians start to talk about gun control or get into such a debate, holster sales - like those of guns - tend to spike.

The company has its own marketing and customer service staffs.

“We’re always asking the question, ‘Is it best for the customer?’” Tedder said.

He said he originally eyed Spokane, Washington, before settling on northern Idaho for a relocation spot. The company is at home here, he said.

“We love the gun laws here and we love the culture and people here,” he said. “We have found a lot of high-quality people here and many know about our product before they even come here, which is a bonus.”

Brycen Babinski is a “mentor” employee on the manufacturing floor. Mentors are elected to be supervisors by fellow employees. He said he has enjoyed his job since starting last October.

“I like guns, so it’s a great job for me,” he said. “It’s a growing company and I wanted to be a part of it.”

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Information from: Coeur d’Alene Press, https://www.cdapress.com

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