Amid the old factory buildings and once booming mills in Ware, the public might be surprised to find a a $25 million company making cutting-edge data cable. Since 1975, Quabbin Wire, located at 10 Maple St., has consistently manufactured high-quality wire and cable, while continuing to innovate and adapt to the future. On March 17, Quabbin Wire President and founder Paul D. Engel, Vice President Dan Griswold, Senior Marketing Coordinator Jacqui Jamieson, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations Melissa Delargy, Vice President of Engineering Jim Rivernider and Vice President of Human Resources Stacy Gilmour discussed all aspects of the company.
Quabbin Wire manufactures general purpose and cable, digital audio/visual and lighting control cable, commercial data cable and harsh environment cable. These different types of cable are used in endless applications, such as audio systems, lighting, high-end appliances, robots and telecommunications. During the course of 41 years, the company and the technology it uses have drastically changed. Delargy said that Quabbin Wire's biggest change over the years is in its products, which have changed with the needs of the marketplace and the available technology. Rivernider explained that in 1993 the company shifted to more data-related wires and cables. Currently, Quabbin Wire has a patent out for their high-flex robotics cable. This cable is used in constructing robots, and can survive 10 million movements. For example, the cable is used in car manufacturing robots.
Rivernider described the data-cable manufacturing as a relatively new technology that has been developed over the last four years, which has resulted in the creation of a completely new market. Well-known hospitals, NASA, the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, automobile manufacturers, brand-name appliance manufacturers and the theaters of Broadway are just some of the numerous, well-known locations where Quabbin Wire products are used.
Griswold said the company built a new facility in 1993, which was also a big change for the company. The old mill building was taken down and in its footprint, a new Quabbin Wire building was erected. The company designed the layout, and created a floor plan that led to higher efficiency wire production.. These improvements included concrete floors instead of wood and having a single-story floor plan rather than several floors. Gilmour said that the building also resulted in better quality control.
Changes In Wire
Engel added that the wire itself has gotten smaller and smaller throughout the decades. Although general purpose wire is still available, data cable is the company's main focus these days. Rivernider said that power can now come from the wire itself in order to control phones, televisions and lights. “The amount of power is increasing and the applications are going to go up.” Rivernider said. “The data will all travel back to a control center.”
Being on the cutting edge of technology is one way that this local business has managed to not only survive, but continued to thrive during hard economic times. “You go through a lot of tough times. Recessions, seven or eight of them,” Engel said. “It's working with employees, having a great senior staff, having excellent bank relations. We work on both sides with relationships with our customers through our suppliers.” Delargy said that Quabbin is always trying to be ahead of the curve, which is another factor that has allowed it to grow, even during tough times.
Good Employees Are Key
Quabbin Wire employees 85 people, many of whom are locals that have been with the company as long as 25 to 40 years. Gilmour said that Quabbin Wire invests a lot into their workforce development by hiring adults, young adults, students, interns and through by providing scholarships to college students.
“They [the employees] know their job,” Engel said. “We see the results. Hopefully we work together and make a positive difference.” Quabbin provides a lot of opportunities for employees to grow their careers, Delargy said. Employees like being employed by a privately-owned, local company, and the company tries to provide competitive salaries and benefits despite being a small company. “Manufacturing is alive and well in Ware,” Gilmour said. “We are a thriving manufacturing company.”
Engel began Quabbin Wire in 1975 with only $15,000 of borrowed money. “Being privately held, you try to stay in your base business,” Engel said, adding that he has a great relationship with the town of Ware, which has been excellent to work with. “They never had a problem with the growth or anything we wanted to do here,” he said. Jamieson said that the decision to stay has helped the company maintain its longevity.
Patents & Innovations
Currently, Quabbin Wire has two patents that they have developed. Last month, the company received a patent for their latest data cable, a category 8 DataMax model. In addition, they also have a patent out for their high-flex robotic cable.
The company has also made strides in various other departments. For example, Griswold, described a solar panel project that Quabbin Wire completed in 2015. The flat roof of the facility was ideal for solar panel placement, so 1,000 panels were installed. They produce 250,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. The machinery used to produce the wire makes Quabbin Wire a large consumer of electricity. However, with the installation of solar panels, the company has seen a 25 to 30 percent savings in its electric costs. “It had both an environmentally positive impact as we try to reduce our carbon footprint,” Griswold said. “And it did have some financial benefits.”
It seems the world has recognized Quabbin Wire's innovative products as well. The company has been selected to be featured on the show “Innovations with Ed Begley, Jr.” This education program features industries who are on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, and Quabbin Wire was selected because of their strides in the telecommunications field. The show will air on Fox Business and CNN sometime during the third quarter.
Over the next five years, Quabbin Wire wants to delve more into the television and entertainment market. The focus on telecommunications would include working with sporting events, live concerts and major church events. The high-end cable used for such purposes results in better visual and audio clarity.
Another aspect that makes Quabbin Wire's cable unique is its flexibility, making it more versatile when solving real-world problems. For example, Lifetouch School of Photography needed cable to run their equipment. However, students kept stepping on the cables which broke them over time. Quabbin Wire created a very rugged yet flexible cable that served Lifetouch's needs.
While good employees and a focus on new technologies has helped make the company successful, a good deal of the company's success can be traced to the founder's attitude toward its customers and other business relationships.
“I like long-term everything,” he said. “We want to be the highest everything to our customers, and be an excellent customer to our suppliers.”
Story by Sloane M. Perron and featured in the March 24, 2016 Ware River News