All hat and no dream

Beer hats are business reality

News Staff Reporter
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HARRY SCULL JR./Buffalo News
Pete Montana, a science teacher in the Grand Island school district, shows off Coors beer boxes turned into cowboy hats. He and his wife, Cyndy, also make the hats from other beer brands.


A little more than a year ago, Pete Montana was a man with a dream - and a cowboy hat made out of cardboard beer boxes.

Today, he's a guy with a growing business.

Montana, 26, and his wife, Cyndy, have turned a start-up business with a funny hook - they make a product called "beer hats" - into a fledgling company that now collaborates with Coors, a major beer company based in Colorado.

"Things are really taking off for us," said Montana, a Grand Island resident who - in his day job - teaches science at Grand Island's middle school and high school.

If the Montanas and their beer hats sound familiar, that's probably because you read about them some 14 months ago in The Buffalo News, in a story about local inventors and the growing number of patents issued annually in the Western New York region.

At that time, Montana had applied for a patent for his concept - which came to him while he was enjoying a country music concert in Ohio in 2002.

These days, the Montanas churn out hats by the hundreds, not the dozens.

They make them out of Coors and Coors Light boxes, primarily because of their new contract with that company - although they still sell other brand-name beer hats through their Web site, www.beer-hats.com.

And the hats are being used by Coors to promote its brand name at events across the country, including concerts and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events. "We've used them mostly for our rodeo events," said Melissa Gelfand, a spokeswoman for Coors, who called the company "very pleased" with their discovery of the Montanas' business.

Cyndy Montana, 31, said the couple has now shipped beer hats all over the country. "We've had a really steady Internet business," she said. "We have a map of all the states, and we have pins in almost every state - we have hats going all over."