Archives

June 24, 2015

America’s Interest in Carousels Comes Full Circle

When Art Ritchie and Dan Jones of Carousel Works first began making wooden carousels in Mansfield, Ohio in the late 1980s, it’s doubtful they realized the important role they would play in the revitalization of carousels in America.

Photo credit: carouselworks.com

Photo credit: carouselworks.com

Carousels were once considered one of America’s greatest pastimes. From the late 1800s to 1930s, carousels were the focal point of hundreds of amusement parks popping up in cities all across the U.S. That period is often referred to as the “golden age” of American carousel-making.

While the carousel may have originated in Europe, it was American workmanship that carried it through the golden age. The American carousels were much bigger than the European carousels and even more elaborate in the woodwork of the horses and chariots.

Declining Craftsmanship

Along with the Great Depression came the end of the golden age for the American carousel, leaving many deserted or destroyed. As the economy improved so did the technology for carousel production and the craftsmanship that once defined the golden age of American carousel-making was replaced with aluminum and fiberglass casts.

Recognizing a growing need to help restore and preserve one of America’s valuable treasures, Art and Dan formed Carousel Works in 1986. Unlike the cast fiberglass or metal carousel replications produced today, Carousel Works hand-carves all of their carousels from wood, the same as was done more than 100 years ago.

Today, Carousel Works is the world’s largest manufacturer of wooden carousels and the only company with the in-house capability to manufacture wooden carousels from design to installation. Carousel Works has pioneered the production of over 45 innovative wooden carousels located in cities all across the United States. For more information, visit carouselworks.com.

June 17, 2015

Making the Tools That Built America

The first tool Mathias Klein ever made was the only job he ever did halfway. The German immigrant – who had just opened his forge shop in Chicago, Illinois, in 1857 – was approached by a telegraph lineman with a pair of side-cutting pliers, half of which had broken. After Mathias forged a new half and riveted it to the old half, the lineman was so impressed with the craftsmanship that he eventually returned when the old half broke. Mathias forged the second half, and the first complete Klein tool was born.

Photo credit: kleintools.com

Photo credit: kleintools.com

Mathias Klein realized the potential in focusing his efforts on creating durable hand tools for professional tradesmen. As America expanded, so did the demand for his products, and his forge shop grew into a full line of respected hand tools.

Today, more than 150 years later, no other manufacturer of hand tools used in electrical applications makes more items in America than Klein Tools. While the worldwide demand for its products has driven expansion into other countries, Klein continues to invest heavily in its U.S. manufacturing facilities. With four new locations opened in the past decade, Klein’s American manufacturing currently produces 14 times more product than any of its international locations.

Klein Tools has never closed a manufacturing facility in the United States and has never sent jobs overseas – and they have no intention of doing so in the future.

To learn more, visit kleintools.com.

June 11, 2015

“Reshoring” – The Hottest Trend in the Fashion Industry

Reshoring – the return of manufacturing to the U.S. from overseas – is all the rage in the apparel business these days. A recent study by A.T. Kearney found that apparel production was among the top three industries to reshore in 2014. Companies like Brooks Brothers are streamlining design and production in the U.S. to be able to react swiftly to the ever-changing demand in the fashion world. Over the past eight years, Brooks Brothers has updated its American factories and increased its domestic employee total to more than 1,000. And the strategy has paid off handsomely – Brooks Brothers’ sales surged to $1.2 billion last year.

Photo credit: brooksbrothers.com

Photo credit: brooksbrothers.com

Quicker production in the U.S., rising wages in China, and mandates from foreign factories to manufacture larger and larger volumes of product are all paving the runway for reshoring to be much more than a passing fad. In fact, economist Bill Conerly’s U.S. Manufacturing Forecast for 2015-2016 predicts that reshoring will continue to rise in the apparel industry. Following suit, Brooks Brothers plans to further expand its operations in the U.S. this August, creating 70 new jobs.

For the full story, visit cit.com.

June 3, 2015

American Manufacturers of Outdoor Gear Get “Sassy”

Proud, rugged, American spirit and the great outdoors have always gone hand in hand. No wonder California-based Kokatat and dozens of other U.S. companies in the outdoor industry are passionately committed to American manufacturing. To celebrate this commitment, Kokatat, the leading U.S. producer of paddle sports gear, created the American Made Outdoor Gear Awards. And who better to grace it than the notorious creature of American-made legend that roams the great outdoors, the Sasquatch.

Photo credit: kokatat.com

Photo credit: kokatat.com

The “Sassy” trophy, a 3-foot-tall likeness of the Sasquatch hand-carved out of redwood, is awarded annually to the company with the most compelling “made in America” story. Sterling Rope in Maine took home the Sassy this year, beating out more than 110 other companies that applied for the award. Sterling has been producing premium life safety ropes and hardware since 1992.

In addition to the overall winner, winners in several categories based on company size were also awarded.  The category winners received a miniature version of the “Sassy” trophy, and included American manufacturers like Voormi, Dahlgren Footwear, Polar Bottle and Cascade Designs.

Learn more about the winners of the 2015 American Made Outdoor Gear Awards as well as winners from previous years at kokatat.com.