Goldens’ Cast Iron didn’t always make workout equipment. Founded by two brothers in Columbus, Georgia, in 1882, the company spent its first century building things like machine parts, sugarcane syrup kettles and, during World War II, steering engines for Liberty ships. It was a lot of important stuff, though nothing you were likely to find in your home.
It took COVID-19 to change that. When the pandemic cut demand for machine parts and construction equipment, Goldens pivoted to making consumer-friendly things like dumbbells and kettlebells. It may feel like a peculiar move, but it makes sense if we go back almost two years.
Finding dumbbells in early 2020 was a difficult feat. When lockdowns forced gyms and fitness studios to close, people began shopping for home fitness equipment in droves. But as restrictions also forced companies making this equipment to temporarily close their factories, skyrocketing demand met with plummeting supply. Stores and online retailers sold out of everything from exercise bands to treadmills, and by autumn buying a kettlebell was nearly impossible.
Pandemic-caused vulnerabilities in the global supply chain didn’t help. The offshoring of American manufacturing to China, Vietnam, Cambodia and other countries meant that products have to travel thousands of miles to get into the hands of US consumers. As something like a dumbbell moves from a factory to a container ship (you don’t move something that heavy in an airplane) to a truck and to your doorstep, it passes through many checkpoints, and a delay in any one can cascade down the chain. It was a problem Goldens’ Cast Iron recognized and one it hoped to fix by transitioning to making something in high demand inside the US.
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