If oil industry workers couldn’t find the right clothing in the Greeley area before, they sure can today.
The availability of flame resistant clothing — an industry standard, worksite requirement and must-have for anyone who works in the oil field — is at an all time high in the Greeley area with the recent boom in the industry.
Clothing outlets have been popping up left and right, most recently with Becker Safety and Supply at 128 30th St., in south Greeley, moving this year from a smaller space in Evans; and the 3-year old Schneider’s FR Clothing, 126 Oak Ave., in Eaton.
Now, two new outlets are being added to the mix.
Frackin’ Hot FR and Safety Apparel has been open a couple of weeks now at 1708 1st Ave., in Greeley; and longtime work clothing and boot supplier Whiteside’s Boots, Western & Work Wear will open in Greeley in the coming weeks at 2017 2nd Ave., off of U.S. 85 Bypass.
Whiteside’s has been in business in northern Colorado for 25 years and has been selling industrial clothing in Brighton for the last 17. Frackin Hot FR is new to the clothing industry, started by Trish Sandau, who has owned and operated Northern Colorado Traffic Control, selling sell traffic control supplies and equipment for 21 years.
“I do think there’s enough business out there for the stores that are currently up and going,” Sandau said. “I’ve heard there are others trying to open up. I’d imagine they’re struggling to find suppliers, because they’ll only take so many people in an area.
“I hope they don’t over-saturate the market, but there are a lot of oil and gas guys out there,” Sandau said.
Indeed, the oil and gas industry has roughly 17,400 workers in Weld County today, a 74 percent increase from the number of workers in 2010, when the fracking boom started, according to state Department of Employment and Labor numbers.
Sandau’s husband, Bruce Sandau, works in the oil fields with his own business, Green Earth Environmental, and she said she opted to open the store based on what she had been hearing from those in the field about the lack of availability and options in FR clothing, which tends to be much more expensive than then the everyday button-down shirts and jeans.
“We decided to carry affordable brands because that was the biggest complaint, that they were paying for the name on the clothing,” Sandau said. “Some just can’t afford it. They’re trying to raise a family, and they don’t want to spend $85 on a shirt. … The biggest complaints I’ve heard about have been price. But also, nobody was large enough to have a selection. You go in and have a choice between eight shirts. We have over 40 different styles and colors, in affordable brands that are durable.”
Whiteside’s started in Loveland selling western wear for farmers and ranchers. It moved into FR clothing and industrial boots in the 90s when it opened in Brighton, and it has been the chief supplier for the oil fields for years in the Wattenberg Field. The Greeley store is the former site of Mitchell’s Flooring and Carpeting, and offers 9,000 square feet of showroom space, said Will Whiteside, whose father owns the family’s popular Brighton store.
“The Greeley store will really focus on the industrial customers, steel-toed boots and industrial clothing,” to start with, Whiteside said. Western wear may come later.
Whiteside said the Greeley store is a natural extension of their longstanding business, which has been drawing Greeley and other northern Colorado clients for years to the Brighton area.
“We’re going to wait and see how much effect that does have on the Brighton store, but we draw from pretty far south here, like Commerce City,” Whiteside said. “We’ve built a pretty strong reputation, and we still have a couple big oil and gas companies and Vestas. We’ll monitor the hit when we lose the Greeley traffic.”
Whiteside said he hopes the new Greeley store will draw from as far away as Cheyenne and Sterling. Whiteside said there was no beating the visibility of the store, just off of U.S. 85 Bypass.
“When we chose it, we were standing out in front, and we saw oil and gas trucks driving by left and right, thought this is our customer. This is where we want to be,” Whiteside said.
Whiteside, too, has noticed the increasing competition.
“We’ve seen quite a few mom-and-pop shops open up there,” he said. “We realize we’re not first in the game, but it’s a good business here in Brighton and we want to capitalize on it there as well.”