A man of many hats from rodeo, oilfield fencing as well as owning a hat company. Lane Berg, a Dickinson State University graduate and bull rider, sits down to talk about his business, West River Hat Co.
Before receiving a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business in May 2019, Berg came to Dickinson on a rodeo scholarship. Originally from Chaffee, Berg has always been around western heritage and competed at DSU in both bull riding and steer wrestling.
The journey of starting his own hat company began when a few of his friends from college brainstormed the idea back in December of 2017. Like most bands do, the three partners parted ways. One friend moved back to Texas, the other got married — leaving Berg with a decision to make.
Berg said to himself, “This is too good of an opportunity, too good of a logo and I always thought it would be cool to have something like this. So I just ran with it. I didn’t think it’d be where it is today but I just kept rolling with it.”
The West River Hat Co. features baseball caps, sweatshirts, T-shirts, women’s tank- tops and women’s T-shirts. Berg hopes to expand his merchandise as time moves forward. Most of Berg’s sales take place online through his website, westriverhatco.com.
As a fairly new business owner, Berg is trying to push his product line into local retailers and has successfully landed a feature spot in stores including Medora Boot & Western Wear in Medora and Saddle Up Western Wear in Watford City.
“For right now, I’m just trying to expand as much as I can. But it’s kind difficult (because) I rodeo on the side, work a full-time job so you got to make time for it,” Berg said. “Hopefully down the road, it’ll be the next Hooey — you never know.”
The name of his company was spurred from conversations with people who always noted “west river is always better than east river.” With a love for ranching and western heritage, Berg and his friends decided to create a logo with a bull head with the name of the company stitched around the emblem.
Since taking over the business, Berg noted that the logo has an original appeal that he couldn’t let go of and it's something that has attracted his rodeo audience to support his company. As a result, it has created a chain reaction with friend circles and customers ranging as far as Alabama and Florida.
“When they wear it around, their friends start wearing it. It’s getting to the point where I see people wearing my stuff and I go introduce myself, and they don’t even know who I am. So that’s kind of cool,” he said.
Currently, Berg works full time for a fencing company in Belfield and rodeos just about every weekend around North Dakota in both amateur circuits and pro-rodeo events. With the help of his fiancee Mackenzie Grubbs and his family, Berg said he is thankful for the people in his life who continue to encourage him with his hat company.
“If it wasn’t for Mackenzie sometimes, I wouldn’t get half the stuff done,” Berg said, chuckling.
Berg hopes to build up his business where he will be able to hire employees and open a shop with goals of incorporating other products such as jackets, cowboy hats and boots.
“I think it’s cool that something that I’m making and producing goes out to other people and I can see them wearing it,” he noted. “I’m the first one to ever do something like this in my family, so I don’t have any advice, you know.”
Running his online shop keeps him busy, but Berg enjoys getting back into his rodeo abode and setting up a table at events to sell his merchandise. He will also have a place at the 2021 ND Country Fest in July in New Salem.
Though he is only 24, Berg is on the road to inventing his own success and encourages other upcoming business owners to not be afraid of taking chances.
“Go with the flow and always pursue what interests you. You can always come back with what you started with and you can go anywhere. I wouldn’t settle for anything you really don’t want to do and just keep pushing to get your goal and your dreams done,” he added.