John opened his saddle shop when he was 20 years old in Stavely, Alberta. At the start of his career he focused on making saddles for working cowboys, knowing they would be the ones who would use his saddles the hardest, putting in long days and riding a string of horses. This was the ultimate test for a saddlemaker.
John was influenced by some of the best saddle makers in the US and Canada in his early years. The first saddle maker to help John was Lloyd Miller for whom John worked when he was a teenager. Others who John credits are Chuck Stormes, Jeremiah Watt, Bill Gardner, Don Butler and Dale Harwood. Dale Harwood would ultimately become John's mentor, who he would eventually work for making contract saddles that clinician Ray Hunt would promote and sell at his clinics. John also did contract work for Hamleys of Pendleton, Oregon and Big Bend Saddlery of Alpine, Texas.
In 2006, John partnered with clinician Peter Campbell of Wheatland, Wyoming and developed the 'Peter Campbell Wade'. John made over 75 Peter Campbell saddles for Peter and his students over the next 16 years. The 'Peter Campbell' stamp was retired in the spring of 2022, 5 years after Peter's untimely death.
See also: Saddle Trees and Silversmithing