In 1989, Thomas launched an accessories company in the 200 year old family barn in East Haddam, Connecticut. We focused on becoming a leader in innovative material use for belt designs. Most of our products were leather belts sold to wholesale and retail fashion brands. In 1995, we first showcased the Thomas Bates brand at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Reno, Nevada. Our line incorporated materials used in the outdoor industry such as nylon webbing, climbing cord and marine yacht rope to create unique belt styles.
2000 was a banner year for Thomas Bates. We developed a process for digital dye transfer on narrow fabrics and named this ‘first-of-its-kind’ process Visiontree®. We submitted a process patent application which received final approval in 2007. This process enables us to offer over 600 stock patterns on a wide variety of products, from belts and pet products to tote bags to key fobs. Taking all of our stock products and applying 600+ Visiontree® patterns, we believe we offer more patterned accessories products than any other manufacturer in the world. Visiontree® also affords the ability to offer our products with custom logos at a very low minimum and reasonable cost.
The second milestone for us in the year 2000 was the purchase of a 39 year old leather goods factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Prior to that time, we had moved to the local industrial park and initiated limited manufacturing in the USA. In 2003, we consolidated our Connecticut factory to the Massachusetts location which is located in a 120 year old former tannery. Our Thomas Bates customer service office is located in Greenland, New Hampshire. We currently manufacture and distribute the majority of our products at our Massachusetts location, while working closely with our partner factories in China, India and Indonesia.
At Thomas Bates, our focus now and into the future is maintaining the highest quality standards and continuing to innovate. From developing new methods and materials for Visiontree® products, creating new buckles and metal hardware, to expanding our ability to work with genuine leathers, including the hand-dying and machine–tooling of environmentally conscious vegetable tanned leathers, we will continue to lead our industry in product innovation.