BILLINGS – Rich Rand, the founder of Rand’s Custom Hats, has been in the business of custom hats for over 40 years. He started small and has since expanded his business, selling hats not just in Montana but across the globe.
“We have a great outlet that stocks over 100 Rand hats, every day of the week just outside of Zurich (Switzerland),” said Rand. “His store is just immaculately displayed and he has boots and hats and all kinds of stuff and he orders every month of the year from us.”
Even if you aren’t aware of it, you’ve probably seen one of Rand’s hats before.
“Ronald Reagan was a customer of ours,” said Rand. “Tom Selleck calls every once in awhile. He wanted something to go with his top coat on Blue Bloods and so they ordered something to go with the topcoat, and then you see it on TV and you’re jumping up and down.”
Despite the long list of celebrities he’s served, for Rand it has always been about the next customer to walk through the doors.
“Some people that come in this store that are just a lawyer or a banker or anybody, maybe they’re going just to the rodeo or they’re going to the National Finals or something,” said Rand. “And you make that hat fit them and look good on them, you really put a smile on their face and that’s what we try to do every day.”
In a world of mass production, what sets Rand’s Custom Hats apart is attention to detail and a process hundreds of years in the making.
“There’s always the Pepsi cola and the Coke-a-Cola people that are doing assembly line hats and ours are a completely different ball game when it comes to a handmade, custom made product,” said Rand. “We hand stitch them, we hand finish them. All the things that we do to them are done here with machines as aids to us.”
Each hat Rand’s sells is made completely custom, fit to the exact measurements of the customer’s head to ensure they fit just right.
“You get to the end of the day with a bad hat and you just can’t wait to take it off,” said Shawn Wickhorst, partner and CEO of Rand’s. “The way these are made to fit your head, that’s what really seals the deal with a lot of our customers.”
Shawn and Julie Wickhorst joined the company a few months ago after a two-year search by Rand to find an eventual successor.
“We’ve been customers of Rand’s for over 20 years,” said Julie Wickhorst. “Our daughters got hats, our sons got hats, our whole family has hats, and so we’ve always loved the customer service that they give us and they’re just so friendly and everybody here has just been great.”
The most important thing to Rand was finding someone who would take care of the company and keep it right where it started: Making handmade, custom products in Big Sky Country.
“Fit the personality of the person, give them what they want, give them their money’s worth and make it so that it is a lasting product for them,” said Rand. “It’s made right here in Billings so we are very pleased with that.”
Rand’s is currently operating on a few month long wait list to get your hands on one of their hats.
MTN’s Samantha Harrelson