When Mustard Officals from around the world cut the ribbon on their new production and manufacturing facility in Bloomfield, Conn., earlier this summer, more than 170 farrier supply wholesalers, farrier industry leaders and local government representatives were on hand for the event.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the building was dedicated to Hans Nilsson of Sweden, who is retiring as the general manager of the worldwide Hoofcare Group.

Attendees enjoyed a great party along with the opportunity to talk with Mustad personnel from around the world and other members of the North American farrier industry.

Kicking off the festivities, which featured a country western theme, was the beautiful six-horse Percheron team from the Kriz Brothers in Bethany, Conn. Besides shoeing the famous Budweiser Clydesdale hitches and running a multi-farrier operation, this family enjoys working with these beautiful black Percherons.

The late afternoon and evening festivities also featured tours of the new facility, great food, super music, country line dancing and great conversations about the future of the shoeing industry.

What It Means To Farriers

“This new building will definitely allow us to offer better service to our dealers and their farrier customers,” says Carlos Lara, president of Mustad Connecticut. “We were really tight for both manufacturing and warehouse space in the old building across the street.

“We couldn’t store the quantities of products that we wanted or carry all of the products that we wanted to handle in the old building. Now we have space for more new products that we want to distribute and more room for manufacturing.”

Lara says the new facility will definitely allow Mustad to better serve the industry. “With much more storage space and new equipment, our operation will become even more flexible,” says Lara. “We will be able to easily adjust our manufacturing to meet the changing demands of farriers.”

While the purchase last spring of the St. Croix shoe operation in Forest Lake, Minn., will continue as a separate Mustad operation, Lara says they are considering having the Connecticut facility handle some distribution of St. Croix shoes for dealers.

“There’s a possibility that we could inventory some of these shoes in our new facility and ship them along with our other products to reduce transportation costs for dealers,” he says. “But we are still working on the details and nothing yet has been decided.”

More Products Coming

Looking ahead to 2005, you can expect Mustad to continue to expand its product lines. “I see the U.S. hoof care market growing in a number of areas over the next 5 years,” says Lara. “This will include feed supplements, hoof conditioners and pads, just to name a few products.

“Yet the nail and horseshoe markets will probably remain somewhat stable and won’t have the expected growth of other areas.” Lara says Mustad is already expanding North American sales of its tool line. “We’ll be introducing more tools to our line in the months ahead,” he explains. “We have recently added creasers, punchers, knives and a few new nippers.

“Our rasps are currently being introduced in the U.S. market and we are already improving the quality. We have better rasps now and our manufacturing quality continues to improve.”

Lara says the company will be offering new pads from Europe in the future. “However, we need to find the right pads for this market and determine which ones we will carry,” he says. “Our goal is to eventually offer a full range of pads. The recently introduced line of snow pads also includes Mini No-Snow pads for smaller-footed horses and Maxi-NoSnow pads for draft horses.

Nutritional Opportunities 

Lara says the company will be expanding feed supplement and horse treat product lines.

“We are continually looking at ways to grow with new products and are looking closely at nutritional products and hoof care products,” he says. “Farriers and horse owners are also getting more sophisticated. At the same time, they’re seeing that these new types of hoof care products really work.”

When it comes to product distribution channels, Lara doesn’t see many farrier industry changes occurring over the next 5 years. He doesn’t see any major shift coming with buying products via the Internet.

To expand product knowledge and shoeing education, Lara believes farriers will spend more time getting information from the Internet.

“It will play a key role in keeping shoers up to date,” he says. “With the Internet, farriers will realize there’s much more information out there. The Internet will represent a big change for farriers and will bring the entire industry much more in the way of shoeing education"

Farrier Changes

Lara says predicting how farriers will change their operations between now and 2005 is a tough question. “They are definitely going to keep learning more and will provide better service to customers,” he says. “Education will become even more important to the success of a farrier and the Internet will definitely play a key role.

“Farriers will carry products like feed supplements, studs and hoof conditioners in their trucks to sell to clients. The sale of these products will provide more income while providing a much-needed and valuable service for horse owners.”

Looking at the overall shoeing industry picture, Lara sees many changes occurring between now and 2005.

“We are going to continue to broaden our product line by listening carefully to what farriers tell us their needs are,” he says. “We want to continue to improve our products and have lots of work to do over the next 5 years. “We want to offer the best products that farriers can buy at a very competitive price. The Mustad goal is to help farriers all around the world.”