I recently caught an episode of the History Channel’s Modern Marvels and saw a familiar face; Sparky Christakos of Gladding Braided Products. He was showing the braiding equipment they make and provide to the harness braiding trade. I followed up with Sparky and his son Nick about their experience with the show’s producers and to learn a little more about Gladding along the way.
WHN: How did their feature of Gladding come about?
Sparky: Modern Marvels and the History Channel actually approached us. They were producing a show on Ropes and Chains, and were out west at a company called Samson Rope, a manufacturer of heavy mooring lines and ropes. Gladding had done some proprietary work with Samson, so we know each other’s capabilities and factories pretty well. The History Channel asked Samson recommendations of other braid factory specialists, and thankfully Samson recommended Gladding to Modern Marvels. Samson knows the scale and scope of our factory: Gladding has over 1,500 braiding machines producing the most diverse assortment of braids and raw materials in North America. Naturally, the History Channel wanted to follow-up, so they called us, and we welcomed them in with open arms.
WHN: What was it like when they came out to film?
Sparky: It was a long day. They brought a crew of three, an editor and two camera specialists. They filmed for about 8 hours, and during that process, they never wrote a word down. They filmed and interviewed many people. It was fascinating to watch them work. They took all 8 hours of footage, went back to their studios, and edited (after editing they condensed it to about 7 minutes). We had no say in the content at all, and everything on the video came from comments made during filming. We were impressed with their fact-checking done after filming and impressed with their attention to detail. (The video can be seen on Gladding’s website www.gladdingbraid.com)
WHN: Did they cover a good cross section of your business in the seven minutes?
Sparky: Absolutely. They covered the size and scale of the factory, both the wire and textile braiding divisions, and included some of the braiding of a wire harness. We do very few harnesses in our plant today, except for a select few legacy customers. Our work with the harness trade has evolved as the key supplier of harness braiding machines, along with supporting those machines with the raw materials used in the trade, and on those machines.
It might be disappointing to some of your readers who might say ‘Oh we’ll call Gladding to do our braiding”, because even though we know the process well, we have just scratched the surface into making harnesses. We are really not in that game as deeply as we would like, and are considering another expansion.
WHN: A question for Nick: How about we take this opportunity to hear what’s going on at Gladding these days.
Nick: I think the most important thing to mention is that we’ve been growing considerably year-over-year with equipment to service the harness braiding industry. We are continually selling harness braiders of several different sizes. Regardless of the range or diameters of harnesses that people are braiding, we can design, engineer, and produce a machine that will work for them. We also offer specialty materials for the aerospace industry. But the main point I’d like to get across is that we continue to invest and continue to grow and expand in that industry.
We also offer on-site training with any purchase of our machines. We often deal with new companies that are realizing that it’s in their budget to start braiding harnesses in-house. It not only gives them more control on lead-times to do it themselves, but it is also really is quite simple (however it can look intimidating). We make it easy. When clients come to our facility to train, they use their exact equipment, with our operators and machine fabricators. Once comfortable the machines operation, we crate the machine all set up to run, and send it off to them. That’s one unique thing that we offer. We know many are brand new in the braiding field and need some hand-holding along the way.
Time after time, when we get a new customer, they stay with us as their business grows, and their business usually does expand with the added braiding feature. They end up purchasing another machine, or a different size machine, or add alternate raw material choices; we know our commitment to customer support is what makes customers keep coming back.
WHN: Many thanks to Sparky and Nick for satisfying my curiosity on the History Channel’s Modern Marvels segment and telling us a little more about Gladding Braided Products.