Devon B. Katzev
President of Straight Arrow Products, Inc.
Mane ‘n Tail, Cowboy Magic, Exhibitor’s
How long have you have been a part of the horse world?
I’ve been a part of the horse world from the moment I was born. I was named after the Devon Horse Show in Pennsylvania where my family showed their prize Arabians. Horses have always played a huge role in my life from childhood until now.
What’s your first memory with horses as a child?
I had a Shetland pony named Louie C. Steiner, aka Little Louie. He used to walk with me and my brothers to our bus stop in the morning and meet us at the bus when we got home. I think he was actually looking for an apple or some other treat, possibly leftover lunch we may not have eaten! One time, before my dad came home from work, I brought Little Louie into the house. That didn’t really go over well with my dad when he discovered me and the horse eating cheerios while sitting in front of the TV watching after-school cartoons.
What part do you play in the horse world?
As the president and owner of Straight Arrow Products, Inc., I’ve become an ambassador for helping to keep horses clean and looking their best. We create unique horse grooming products that perform. We make all our products in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, including Mane ‘n Tail, Cowboy Magic and Exhibitor’s.
What’s your favorite part about what you do?
The creativity is what I love most about what I do. Hands down! I enjoy problem solving, especially when making products. I’m always creating and striving to achieve a particular feel and/or a desired effect that becomes a solution for what our customers’ horses need.
How do you feel when you run into someone who has used your products for most of their life and they say there’s nothing like it?
It makes what I do every day all worth it! I love to hear that. I appreciate the affinity that people feel for our brands. For many, just the name of one of our brands brings them back to a nostalgic time in their past when they first discovered our products. With other people, it sparks a recent connection that they may have just made with our brand from seeing it somewhere online, in print or even through sampling. I’m thankful for our customers who have been relying on our products for many years and continue to do so, as well as new people discovering our brands every day.
What’s your biggest achievement inside or outside of the horse world?
That we have made Mane ‘n Tail Shampoo one of the leading shampoos in the horse grooming industry, and not only has it become popular in the horse world, but all over the world for people. No one else has ever done that in the horse world and truly had a successful crossover with their products being used by people. It shows that we’re making something good, something of quality. One of the key factors in our success is that we’re willing to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves, not just paying contract fillers to make it somewhere else for us.
The company turned 50 years old in 2020 — that alone says something about my parents, who initially rolled up their sleeves and started Straight Arrow in our kitchen! We’ve come a long way since then. I can remember all the hard work and countless hours that my parents put in when I was a kid. In the beginning, making shampoo and conditioner was a family project. When I was about 5 years old, my dad would put a bunch of caps down in front of me on the living room floor and I would tighten the caps and put labels on bottles. I helped stir shampoo in the sink and we traveled all over to do store deliveries.
I’m so grateful that my mom got to see my vision for Straight Arrow come to fruition before passing away this summer. She lived long enough to see the new phase of our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. She couldn’t believe that we built such a thing, from starting the business out of their home and to seeing how far we’ve come.
What’s the best-kept secret about what you do?
Listening! It’s something I learned from my horses, that’s the best secret. I listen to everything and take it all in, think about it and react to few things. At times, we think we have to immediately respond, but I’ve learned to listen and take it all in first.