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Tony Lama learned the shoe business growing up in Syracuse, New York. From 1900 until 1912 he worked as a cobbler for the U S Army at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. After his discharge at age 25 he opened his first shoe and boot repair in El Paso while making a few pair of custom boots for local ranchers. Business boomed and by 1930 his boots were selling as fast as he could make them. Tony Lama continued to thrive and by 1948 even Harry Truman was wearing their boots. In 1974 Tony Lama Sr. died and the company continued, managed by various family members until its acquisition by Justin in 1990.