It Started With A Dead Horse

Joanne on moving day from New Jersey to Virginia

It began with a dead horse. Our neighbor in New Jersey had two old horses, and one died. We rescued a goat from the slaughter house
to keep the neighbor’s horse company. We drove the goat home in the back of a Lincoln Continental with its backseat removed. About that time, Joanne was starting to spin, and our new goat made us think that having cashmere goats might be nice.

We spied an ad for a spinner’s shop while we were looking for goat-friendly property in Virginia where we thinking of relocating. We called the shop owner and our chat led to a visit, which led to dinner, which led to our  hostess handing us an ancient floor-stand umbrella swift. “You’re a woodworker, Otto”, she said. “Can you fix this one for me?”

It was an antique, so I really did not want to change it. So I told her that I could build a new one for her. While duplicating the beautiful old piece, I decided to make some improvements. My engineering background sure came in handy. I fashioned a handle which made the new design function both as a swift and a skein winder and added skein sizing marks on the shaft.

Otto packing up the truck on moving day

The first Strauch Swift/skeinwinder sold instantly, and orders flew in for more! By the time we, and our cashmere goats, moved to Virginia, Strauch Fiber Equipment Co was producing twenty at a time. Our fledgling company was born.

While traveling to various sheep and wool festivals, we found out that a small drum carder maker was looking to sell out. It seemed like a golden opportunity to branch out and produce a new line of fiber processing tools. So, we bought the business.  Once more out came the engineer in me.  I redesigned the product line, adding many improvements and we now manufacture a full line of high quality drum carders.

Today, Strauch Fiber Equipment is located on our 157 acre farm amidst the Washington/Jefferson National Forest in New Castle, Virginia. The materials we use reflect the surrounding natural beauty. All the wood we buy is certified as locally harvested hardwoods.  We fabricate most of the components for our products ourselves. Whatever we outsource is made by American companies.

We’ve grown from one employee in 2004 to six in 2014. Our small “hobby” company which started in 2000 was incorporated in 2007 and now has a worldwide distribution network. Our high quality fiber processing tools are enjoyed by artists not only in the US but all over the planet!

Our goats in New Jersey

Credit should be given: Much of this was taken, and paraphrased, from an article written by Cindy Hill, of Middlebury, VT, for Spin-Off Magazine, Fall 2004 issue.


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