Fatherhood is the greatest responsibility. Fathers share traditions and values with the next generation, keeping alive the things that matter most. In more ways than one, Chet Vogt says, that’s the story of Vogt Silversmiths.
Chet & father Norm on a successful hunt.
“Only two crafts in the Western industry have never changed: Leather and silver. What else is done the same way it was centuries ago? Our tools haven’t changed in 100 years.”
Chet riding Hobby’s Best – Livermore CA - 1986
From the company’s very beginning in 1970, Chet and his father worked as a team.
Norm Vogt was a traveler and a visionary. At 18 years of age, he caught a freight train from Ohio to California. Norm served as a pilot in the Navy, flying a PBY amphibious plane during World War II before coming home a lieutenant, and becoming a farmer and rancher.
“My older brother Les and I grew up in the traditional California vaquero culture, with silver bits and ornamentation,” Chet remembers. “Now, Les is a world-renowned horseman and clinician. I’m very proud of him.”
Vogt brothers, Les and Chet – Folsom Rodeo – 1970
During the 1960s, Norm met a group of artisans practicing silversmithing in the Old World way while on vacation with his wife in Mexico. That was the start of Vogt Silversmiths.
“I became the manager and CEO of the business, and he was on the road,” Chet says. “He traveled as a salesman for the company for a number of years across the Western United States. My dad was a visionary. He was a natural traveler and a people person. He always had great vision as to what could happen.”
Chet on PDQ – Lakeview, Oregon - 1973
For Chet, the business instantly became a passion. He had always liked working with his hands and was fascinated by the unique heritage of these art forms.
“By and large, silversmithing and leatherwork are unchanged arts. The challenge lies in refining our talent so we are able to reuse timeless tools more proficiently, with better designs.”
Vogt Silversmiths stands alone as the undisputed industry leader. Chet and his team are kept sharp by the continual demand of innovation—and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The challenge is not sitting on your laurels. The inspiration is watching the progress of our quality and design. We never allowed ourselves to become stagnant or stale. We are constantly getting better.”
The Vogt story of heritage and fatherhood came full circle when Chet’s son Casey joined the team, working by his side for 17 years. It was an incredibly rewarding experience for Chet to witness three generations of Vogt men contribute to the company’s legacy of excellence, craft, and tradition.
Chet with grandson Nick on his first ride.
These days, Chet’s greatest joy is spending time with his four grandkids - Nick, Emma, Natalie, and Ryan. He is proud of his son Casey, a caring and involved father.
“They’re just wonderful kids,” Chet says, fondly detailing each grandkid’s interests, proficiencies, and uniqueness. “I am lucky to be their grandfather.”
The very nature of silver and leatherwork requires attention to the old ways. In a world that constantly changes, it’s an art that demands attention. It requires you to slow down, pay attention, use a soft touch, notice the little things, remember the old ways. Just like fatherhood. Some things never change.