Employees: 6 Onsite - 10 Offsite
Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Products: Ropes and Nets
Established in 1929, Pacific Fibre has diversified into new markets to remain a leader in the rope and fiber business
Spanning three generations of family ownership, Pacific Fibre, located in Wilmington, California, has greatly expanded its line of products since its humble beginnings in 1929. The company continues to make fishing and cargo nets for ships, but new markets like fitness ropes courses now drive growth at the venerable company.
In 1972 the four Goldman brothers inherited their great grandfather’s business and saw it soar to new heights when the macramé hobby started to take off. The company shifted to making a variety of macramé kits. Time Magazine featured the company in an article on the huge growth of the macramé in the ‘70s, and the orders came pouring in. Pacific Fibre moved from nets to becoming the number one distributor of macramé products for hobbyists.
Today the three remaining brothers, Mark, Michael, and Ronald Goldman, have seen the macramé business all but die out, yet they’ve continued to diversify into other markets that have kept the company thriving within its niche. One of these is the fitness industry, which now use long heavy ropes for various exercise routines to improve strength and endurance. The company makes lots of fitness ropes and sells them to gyms nationally.
The demand for rope and climbing nets also popped up again, but not for the marine industry. This time, it is for the emerging outdoor gladiator endurance events, which utilize rope and cargo nets for their obstacle courses. The popularity of the cargo nets also caught the attention of the movie industry which opened more opportunities for the company. "We built the cargo nets that were used in Clint Eastwood’s movie, Flags of our Fathers," says Mark Goldman. "Our cargo nets are also used as props at Disneyland, and we make many climbing nets for the mud-run and gymnastic industries too."
Aside from the rope-based products, the movie and construction industry also found a use for the natural rope fiber. The company sources organic rope from the Philippines and is fed through a machine to be completely unraveled. It’s then mixed together with other rope fibers to create a product that is mixed with plaster for creating props on movie sets, and sold to plaster companies to help reinforce their product. "We’re big in Las Vegas because of all the plaster statues they make out of molds," says Goldman. "We’ve had to get distributors out of Georgia because of the movie industry there. We’ve been producing nets for the movie industry for over 20 years." Movie and production studios continue to purchase Pacific Fiber’s cargo nets and a multitude of top nets for reality shows such as Fear Factor.
The Goldman brothers attribute much of Pacific Fibre’s recent success and sales from the company’s website. "We’re very diversified because of the products featured on our website," says Michael Goldman. "We’re in the fitness market, we make nets, cargo nets, as well as fiber product that we sell all over the country. The website has been the biggest and best way for new customers and markets to find us, and our reputation is what keeps us strong in a market where we compete with companies overseas."
"We have a niche in what we do now," says Mark Goldman. "For us to look outside for other endeavors, it’s just not there because we’re busy trying to capitalize on our strengths. Our major source of income now is cargo nets and exercise ropes, and we’re happy with that for now."
Needs: "I don’t know about having many real needs at this time," says Mark Goldman. "Just continuing to get along as brothers and as owners of Pacific Fibre can be a constant battle, but in the end, we get along and love each other."
Challenges: The biggest challenge for Pacific Fibre is finding a successor to the family business. "I asked my daughter Lindsey if she wanted to take over the company," says Michael Goldman. "She said she wished my grandfather started a diamond business in Beverly Hills." As of now, none of the Goldman brother’s children are interested in continuing the 90-year-old rope and fiber making business.
Opportunities: The popularity of exercise ropes used in gyms has tremendously increased the number of orders at Pacific Fibre. "Every few months orders seem to be picking up substantively because of schools, military, and gymnasiums that use ropes," says Mark Goldman. The ever-expanding fitness trends like mud-runs and obstacle courses help Pacific Fibre fulfill the need for these nets and climbing ropes.