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Goodwinds Composites and Pacific Northwest Sustainability

Goodwinds Composites and Pacific Northwest Sustainability

They helped NASA build a helicopter for Mars, but Goodwinds Composites is still a very down to Earth company. When we were looking for a US carbon fiber tube manufacturer for our Cnoc trekking poles, we knew we couldn't do better than a local, family-owned small business with a focus on caring for both people and planet. When we visited their modest factory in Washington, we wanted to get to know our collaborators.

“You know, I’ve got kids,” says Amelia Cook, who owns and operates the Mt. Vernon, Wash. manufacturer with her brother, Leland Holeman. “I want them to have a world to inherit that’s clean and happy and not polluted.”

Growing up in Ilwaco, Washington, the brother and sister duo bought the composites supply arm of a kite store in 2008 and began precision-cutting small diameter carbon and fiberglass tubes. When they noticed a demand for American-made rods as thin as a human hair, they set up their own micro-pultrulsion machine that would allow them to make wrapped carbon tubes on-site.

very thin carbon fiber tube

“We said, ‘Well, let’s figure this out,” Cook says. “‘We can do this, right? We can.’”

The American manufacturer built its reputation on a culture of excellence. “We weren’t just going to make something that was going to compete with Chinese tubes. We really wanted to make sure that we were making things that our customers wanted,” Cook says.

According to Cook, as customers (like Cnoc and NASA) look to replace metal with lighter-weight, less expensive material, they’re also seeking a speedy turnaround that’s only possible with manufacturing on US soil. Located in the Skagit Valley (north of Seattle on the I-5 corridor), Goodwinds is in the center of a national hub for aerospace, marine technology, machining, and composites.

“We don’t need any supply interruptions,” Cook says. “We do our own tooling for that pultrusion machine, we can do some of our tooling for the wrapped carbon tube operation, which is really nice to not have to wait several weeks to get it from somewhere else. And again, it employs people right here.”

Goodwinds employee holding French bulldog puppy

For Cook, having enough work to continue to employ folks is the model of a sustainable business. And Goodwinds is as mindful of preserving the environment as it is of its employees.

“If we have hardened resin at the end of the day, which unfortunately we sometimes do, it gets hardened out and it does have to go into landfill. That’s the only place for it,” Cook says. Byproducts are never dumped in a water source, and Cook donates rejected pieces that aren’t wrapped in carbon go to the local schools.

“I think we’re always trying to find ways to repurpose things,” Cook says, with the perfect attitude for creating the primary component of our fully repairable trekking poles. It's our goal, too.

Written by Erin Tillery

Rex Plastics: Local, Responsive Clamps Manufacturer

Rex Plastics: Local, Responsive Clamps Manufacturer

When we wanted to reduce the carbon footprint of the friction quick-lock clamps on our new Cnoc trekking poles, local manufacturer Rex Plastics helped bring our innovations to life.

“Most of the innovation comes from customers because we’re on the cutting edge of product development” says Rich Clark, president of the Vancouver, Washington-based plastic injection molding contract manufacturer.

Beyond offering superior outdoor gear that performs where it counts—out on the trail—we wanted to collaborate with US manufacturers and source locally whenever possible. We believe in supporting sustainable manufacturing practices by shortening the supply chain and creating jobs in the US.

close up image of clampHere at Cnoc, sourcing locally through Rex Plastics allowed us to develop the most durable and securely adjustable quick lock clamps based on our user feedback. According to Clark, there are many benefits to domestic manufacturing and sourcing locally, including advantages in logistics and quality.

 

“The nature of manufacturing is fast-paced,” Clark says. This rapid speed means it’s more effective to build relationships locally, and if a supplier isn’t delivering products to spec, it’s possible to visit. Plus, “anywhere in the US can ship ground in a week and not get tied up in customs.” Going local allows for a more agile and responsive manufacturing process. 

“We’ve always been committed to purchasing domestic raw materials and not using overseas sources for tooling,” Clark says.

Family-owned and operated since 1971, Rex Plastics advocates for the Reshoring Initiative, a movement that helps companies shift thinking about the costs of manufacturing. Rather than fostering the belief that manufacturing overseas is less expensive, the Reshoring Initiative aims to show how local manufacturing reduces costs--savings that can be passed on to consumers. And when goods are produced domestically, this creates a skilled workforce in the growing manufacturing industry.   

Gilad looks in on a manufacturing process

Clark says local manufacturing boosts the regional economy and provides jobs. Having a positive impact on employees’ lives is written into Rex Plastics’ core values.

“I think about the number of kids that we’ve helped get through college by providing jobs,” Clark says. “Families that we’ve supported over the last 48 years. That’s a good feeling.”

Our successful Kickstarter campaign proved the value of an investment in sustainable, human-centered manufacturing. You can still get a better than retail price on these incredible trekking poles with clamps made by Rex Plastics by preordering on Indiegogo.

Written by Erin Tillery