San Angelo leather worker gets national attention at Rose Parade – Standard-Times
Samuel Sutton San Angelo Standard-Times Published 1:54 PM EST Jan 3, 2019 SAN ANGELO — San Angelo’s Nils Shawn Pascuzzi has been doing leather work for the Concho Valley since the 1990s. Now, he’s getting national attention for having his saddles and tack used by Texas A&M in the Rose Parade. On New Year’s Day, people
SAN ANGELO — San Angelo’s Nils Shawn Pascuzzi has been doing leather work for the Concho Valley since the 1990s. Now, he’s getting national attention for having his saddles and tack used by Texas A&M in the Rose Parade.
On New Year’s Day, people could see Pascuzzi’s handiwork on the horses of the Texas A&M Parsons Mounted Cavalry. It was the first time they had been invited to ride in the parade, but it wasn’t the first year Pascuzzi’s done leather work for them.
Pascuzzi has made saddles, tack and other items for the PMC for the last 15 years, after he was discovered by A&M alumni and San Angelo native Bob Burns in Fort Worth.
“I was doing some work out there and he saw my stuff and asked if he could use my saddles for reactivating the Calvary program, which had been been deactivated in the 1940s,” Pascuzzi said.
He agreed to Burns’ offer, and A&M has enjoyed his work so much that they have asked him to do it every year since then. Pascuzzi said that while he loves doing the work for them, the job doesn’t come easy.
“It takes roughly a week to make one saddle. I make 15 for them,” Pascuzzi said.
Pascuzzi has to work several months on these saddles, but seeing them presented does make him proud.
While this project is the one that got him national attention, it’s not the only important project he has. Pascuzzi said every saddle he works on is an important job, and being the perfectionist he is, he’s never satisfied.
“I’m my own worst enemy,” Pascuzzi said. “I know every uneven hole, every loose stitch, everything.”
While he may not always love the quality of his work, it seems like all of his customers do. Pascuzzi continues to make saddles, tack and other leather items for several military bases, US Border Patrol, Texas Parks and Wild Life Buffalo Soldiers, etc. He also does leather work and repairs for Fort Concho, which is where his leather career started.
In 1985, he started doing a bit of leather work with them during his time in the Air Force.
He got in touch with them through horse riding.
Pascuzzi started doing the work just as a hobby, but once he found out he could make money with it, he started to pursue it as a business.
In 1991, he was hired on at Tim Piland Custom Saddles, 8733 Ames Road.
“It was basically an apprenticeship,” Pascuzzi said. “I worked for $5 an hour, which was above minimum wage at $2.75 at the time and he told me to keep track of my hours… I considered it a paid education.”
He worked there for a while until he decided to open his own shop in ’96. Since then, he’s made saddles and tacks for several events, businesses and military bases.
Pascuzzi loves his work, and doesn’t plan on giving it up any time soon.
“I don’t have a closing date,” Pascuzzi said. “I plan on doing it until someone wants to buy me out.”
He said other than the love for what he does, the main thing that motivates him to keep doing the work is the paycheck at the end of the day.
Pascuzzi makes military and civilian saddles, tack, holsters, scabbards and knives, blankets and more at Shawn’s Custom Saddles and Tack, located at 6581 Sykes Circle.
The leather he uses is made in the USA, from a tannery named Wickett & Craig of America in Curwensville, PA. For information on pricing and other items sold, visit his website at http://saddles-tack.com/holsters.php, or give him a call at 325-659-4747.
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