Lifelong Product Developer Combines New Techniques with Traditional Clotheslines

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When blending the traditional with the modern, only the right mix works. New finish process for Sunshine Clotheslines hits the mark.

“The new two coat process greatly improves the finish of the arms. The increased thickness of the top coat protects the arms so they last much longer and the enhanced gloss also improves the look and feel of the arms.”

Technology changes at a breakneck pace making it difficult to find a balance between existing solutions and the next shiny object. Washing laundry, a major source of house hold energy consumption, offers opportunity for both. The Sunshine Clothesline was patented in 1915 before the advent of powered clothes dryers. Its space saving umbrella shape and pivoting arms was a revolutionary design that’s still popular with those who enjoy the traditional and environmentally sound method of using the sun and wind to dry clothes. Although the general design has remained unchanged for over 100 years, recent changes to the manufacturing process improve the efficiency of production, and the aesthetics, durability and convenience of the clothesline.

Keith Wilson, owner of G&G Industries since 2006, brought a wealth of manufacturing and product development expertise to the operation and continuously applies his lifetime of experience to make improvements. Taking on challenges such as revamping production machinery for safety and efficiency and designing new convenience features like the rope tension lever assembly comes naturally to Wilson.

Most recently, Wilson’s focus has been the arms of the clothesline. Made from southern yellow pine for over 50 years, the arms have historically been treated with various coatings. But no matter what finish was applied, the arms have always been one of the first components that needs to be replaced, second only to the rope. “The arms lasted 5-15 years or longer depending on the weather conditions they are exposed to and your tolerance for the look of faded paint” says Wilson. “I thought we could do better.” In July 2016, after many iterations of testing, Wilson perfected a two coat submersion process that improves the finish and longevity of the arms. By developing a unique viscosity enamel for each coat and an overhead curing rack system, the new method maximizes the adhesion and ensures proper thickness of the finish. “Before we developed the different viscosities of enamel, double coatings did not turn out well” Wilson says. “The new two coat process greatly improves the finish of the arms. The increased thickness of the top coat protects the arms so they last much longer and the enhanced gloss also improves the look and feel of the arms.” Always with an eye towards quality, Wilson added “Sure the extra coat adds drying time to the process, but the finished product is worth it.”

Business has thrived under Wilson’s management and product improvements. Sales are up year over year since his tenure began, although Wilson is wary that he will soon find himself with too much of a good thing. “We are a very small operation. I don’t want to grow too quickly or too much. I purchased G&G industries because I saw value in the Sunshine Clothesline product, not as a get rich quick scheme.”

Perhaps Wilson was the right person at the right time for the Sunshine Clothesline. He purchased the business at a time when the world of retail products was permanently changed by the advent of online sales, which dramatically increased the audience for the Sunshine Clothesline. Once the domain of regional distributors and backyards within a 200 mile radius of the manufacturing facility in Iowa, the Sunshine Clothesline now addresses a nationwide market place with growing appeal. In his typical adroit style of the blending the old with the new, Wilson humbly learned a new set of ropes in addition to the ropes of the clothesline - the art of online sales - and demonstrated the staying power of this simple household product as it finds a niche that remains grounded in tradition but open to new possibilities.

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Keith Wilson

Keith Wilson
Sunshine Clothesline
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