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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

Cnoc Poles Are Fully Funded!

Cnoc Poles Are Fully Funded!

Our Cnoc Trekking Poles  were fully funded on Kickstarter in nine hours (and a few minutes). These fully repairable trekking poles are officially happening. We're sold out of some of our early bird prices, so pledge as soon as possible to get the best price on your poles.

Our Kickstarter was featured in Forbes, proving that tiny, determined businesses with good ideas can become major national players.

It's not over yet. Our Kickstarter ends October 31. We're thinking about stretch goals. Have a feature you'd like to see? Let us know.

Have you pledged yet?

Here's what Darwin on the Trail, Dan Becker, and Devin of Backcountry Exposure have to say about our durable made in the USA carbon fiber trekking poles.

"“I really dig these poles... Typically, you have to heat the end of a trekking pole up to get the tip off, but these actually screw off and same with all of these parts; you can easily swap them out in the field.” -Darwin

"I was bummed when Cnoc discontinued their original trekking poles because I loved them so much. Then they sent me the prototype for their new poles. One word. Amazing. They are going to be a game changer for trekking poles with their replaceable parts. It's amazing how lightweight they are as well. Love them." -Dan Becker

“I’ve started to carry just one pole and the Ultralight pole has been a solid piece for me on the trail. Should there ever be a failure with this pole, it's comforting to know that I can keep the good sections and replace only what is needed. This is not only a good sustainable approach, but it just makes sense! Invest once into good gear!”-Devin, Backcountry Exposure

The Last Trekking Poles You'll Ever Need to Buy on Mars?

This image of the flight model of NASA's Mars Helicopter

 

Nice landing. Is there something familiar about that helicopter?

We have some really cool news about our manufacturing partner Goodwinds Composites! Along with them making our carbon fiber tubes for our new Cnoc trekking poles, they are also providing parts for the landing gear of NASA's first helicopter on Mars, scheduled for launch in 2020. The helicopter will prove the "viability of heavier-than-air vehicles flying on another planet" and deliver beautiful high resolution color photos of the stark red landscape.

That's big news for a company in a little town like Mt. Vernon. We couldn't be more excited to be working with them. Here's an exclusive interview with Amelia Cook, one of the two owners of Goodwinds. 

How did you end up working with NASA?woman (Amelia) holds a trekking pole in a warehouse

We were contacted by NASA and they were wonderful to work with. We helped design and wholly manufactured the wrapped carbon tubes that will be used as landing gear in the NASA Mars Helicopter, set to launch in July 2020. We leveraged the same composites engineering expertise and used the same process to create the wrapped carbon tubes used in the CNOC hiking sticks.

How similar are the carbon fiber tubes used for helicopter and for our trekking poles?

The fantastic thing about wrapped carbon tubes is that they are extremely versatile in attributes. The things that make a wrapped carbon tube a great choice on Mars, like strength-to-weight ratio and impact resistance, make them an excellent choice for trekking poles. Like we did for NASA, we were able to customize the tubes we manufacture for the CNOC hiking sticks in terms of stiffness, length, diameter, hoop strength, straightness, and many other technical aspects to build the absolute best tube for the intended use.

 How has the collaboration with NASA affected business?

We've had some great publicity from this project—it's just so cool. We all touched those tubes before we sent them out the door. NASA has since cleaned them so as not to transfer anything from our planet to Mars; did you know that is the job of the Planetary Protection Office? We've been geeking out ever since.

If given the opportunity would you ever go to Mars?

I think I'd love to go to Mars, but I'm probably not the best candidate... I have high hopes for my kids!

Helicopter Lands in Jezero Crater February 2021

When the helicopter lands on those sturdy carbon fiber legs, we can say our trekking poles are literally out of this world, or at least their cousins are. Why be content with making the ultimate trekking poles out of terrestrial carbon fiber when we could be making the ultimate poles in the solar system?

Animation of Mars helicopter and Mars 2020 rover.
Credits: NASA/JPL-CalTech

Back our Kickstarter to get the poles that are going to Mars!