In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 139-year-old company reinvented itself to serve the needs of the many Americans who suddenly found themselves kept at home.
With so many fitness centers shuttered, gym rats across the country scrambled to acquire gear of their own, only to find it had all sold out. Goldens’ Cast Iron, a Georgia company known for making parts for factories and ships, decided to make exercise equipment of their own and fill the need of millions of Americans across the country.
Goldens’ Cast Iron was founded in Columbus, Georgia, in 1882 by brothers John “Porter” and Theodore “Theo” Golden. The family’s business has been in continuous operation in the same city since then.
The sixth-generation of Goldens now lead the company, with over a century of experience making products using American-made industrial cast iron, which is known for its durability and heat distribution and retention when compared to other cooking materials.
For years, the products the company has sold, including fire pits and grills, have been marked with the phrase “Made in USA 1882.”
During the pandemic, the Goldens noticed their competitors were sourcing cast iron overseas and they fell behind.
“Our cookers were available …. where our competitors’ grills weren’t,” George Golden Boyd Jr., the company’s fifth-generation chairman and CEO, told ABC News. “So, they got the idea to start making other hard-to-find products, like dumbbells and kettlebells.
“Kettle bells were coming from China,” he added. “Now, the product wasn’t here. America couldn’t get kettlebells. All the team here was scrambling here to figure out how to make these things, and we did. We got tooling made, got them made, and that’s how Goldens’, [a] 138-year-old company at that point, became a startup during a pandemic.”
The company employs 219 workers across two factories, both in Georgia. Six new hires joined this summer just to keep up with demand.
The iron they use is from Georgia and Alabama and heated to 2,700 degrees before being placed into a mold.
“It’s a good feeling to work here and knowing that I did a job well,” Freddy Cook, who has worked at Goldens’ for 21 years, told ABC News.
Since the pandemic began, the company has made more than 50,000 dumbbells and 15,000 kettlebells.