Ashaway Racket Strings Celebrates 185th Birthday
Ashaway, RI - In a quiet ceremony held this past December at the company’s historic mill headquarters on the Ashawog River in tiny Ashaway, RI, Ashaway Racket Strings parent company, Ashaway Line & Twine, celebrated an anniversary few companies reach: their 185th birthday. Started in 1824 by Captain Lester Crandall, and still run by the 6th and 7th generations of his descendents, Ashaway Line and Twine is the oldest family-owned business in the state of RI, one of the oldest in the United States, and is the USA’s only remaining racquet string manufacturer.
“We are very proud of our tradition,” said Steve Crandall, Ashaway Vice President of Sales and Marketing, “but being ‘venerable’ doesn’t win you any points in the marketplace. We still work very hard to produce innovative, leading edge products at competitive prices. After all, that is what made us ‘venerable’ in the first place.”
Indeed, the list of Ashaway “leading edge products” is a long one. A commercial fisherman himself, founder Capt. Crandall started out hand-twisting improved linen fishing lines for fellow fishermen during the off-season. Subsequent generations have made products as diverse as parachute cord, harness twine for Jacquard looms, and whipping cord for golf club heads. During World War II, many a U.S. airman unlucky enough to find himself downed at sea was given hope by the presence of an Ashaway-made Emergency Fishing Kit in his life raft’s survival gear.
Ashaway introduced the first commercial product made from Du Pont’s Nylon—Ashaway Nylon Bait Casting Line—in 1939, and began manufacturing racquet strings in 1949. Ashaway was also the first to manufacture racquet strings made from Du Pont’s bulletproof Kevlar® fiber, and is currently developing new lines of tennis, squash and racquetball strings based on recent advances in another space-age material, Zyex®.
Today Ashaway serves a global market with a diverse range of products. While respected in the tennis market, Ashaway badminton, racquetball and squash strings dominate, with brands like ZyMax®, SuperKill®, and SuperNick® being consistently strung in the racquets of the world’s top players. Ashaway is the Official String of USA Racquetball and the Women’s International Squash Players Association. Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. is also a world leader in the production of bulk, non-sterile and non-absorbable suture threads, braided twines for the textile industry, braided nylon cores for fly fishing lines, braided nylon and polyester cords for window sash balancers, and many other custom braided lines for a variety of applications.
“Having a 185-year history tends to give you a long view of business,” said Crandall, noting that his own son, Julian, recently joined the company. “While innovation and product quality are always key, we also work very hard to maintain a secure, family-oriented workplace where employees and our dealer networks can build fulfilling careers.”
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