This is one of my favorite pieces of equipment here in the Worksman factory. It is a sheet metal folding and bending machine. It’s really old, completely manual with absolutely no electronics and weighs about as much as a city bus. We use it for all sorts of bending and folding of the stainless steel sheets we use in fabricating food vending carts, trailers and trucks, but one use is really neat.
Have you ever admired the diamond pattern “quilting” on the backsplash of the luncheonette or coffee shop you love or the exterior cladding of your favorite food vending truck or cart? Well this is the piece of equipment you need to produce that. Once upon a time, stainless steel foundries made these patterned sheets available, but alas no more. So we do it ourselves. It makes the stainless steel sheets stronger and more attractive. Which brings me to my next point: very attractive stainless steel backsplashes.
Over the years we have had the good fortune of working with several interior and furniture designers to bring their designs and visions to life in stainless steel. It’s a departure from our normal work which makes it fun and challenging. Recently two very talented designers from Austria contacted us to produce samples for a design expo here in New York City. Working with Jack Beller, our V.P. of the vending division, they designed, engineered and produced some striking samples of custom folded backsplashes (see below.)
So while we were producing bicycles and tricycles upstairs, we were creating some unique, architectural stainless steel backsplashes downstairs. Then we went back to producing ice cream and hot dog carts. All in a day’s work.
We get to do a lot of cool things here at Worksman, particularly in our Mobile Food Vending Division. We make all sorts of custom units ranging from ice cream tricycles, to mobile corn roasters, to the bar carts on Metro North and of course, lots of food trucks. Some of the trucks we have made are seen everyday on the streets of New York and other cities. Cupcake Stop, Taim Falafel, Itsy Ice Cream just to name a few. Each truck starts as a “blank canvas” (or a step-van if you will) and then our designers and craftspeople create a rolling kitchen specifically suited to the operator’s needs.
So why then, do you ask, is there a photo of a very cool retro stainless steel travel trailer on top of this post? Because we have that bad boy in our yard (actually one that looks just like it.) How it ended up there is a tale, but the bottom line is it is available for conversion. And here’s the best part: WE ARE GIVING IT AWAY FOR FREE. Yeah, that’s right – free (as defined in Webster’s as “not costing any moolah, dinero, simoleans, scratch or bank.) So what’s the catch? Simple. We will give it to anybody that will let us do a full kitchen conversion. In other words, we are not used trailer salesmen. We are new mobile kitchen manufacturers. So we want to to do what we know how to do.
Let me define a full kitchen conversion. It simply means that we want to install everything you need to make it a legal vending kitchen. It may be hot or cold food, with refrigeration, freezers, fry-o-lators, grills, steam tables, stoves or whatever you need. It will probably have hot and cold running water. It could be a giant ice cream truck, or perhaps a taco shack. It can be a rolling smoothie and espresso bar or a pit BBQ where hunters will drop off the wild boar they snagged that morning and want to eat for dinner later that day. Your call.
Some specifics. The unit is 35′ long. It needs to be towed by a hefty pickup or SUV. It has doors and windows, but we can add more. It has sunshades on either side that can be replaced with custom units. And if you want to be outrageous, the entire unit can be vinyl wrapped.
So if you are a foodie with vision, this will be a glint to your eye. Call me at 718-322-2000.
We all bemoan the loss of countless New York City based manufacturers. But wait a minute. Before you write off NYC as a place where manufacturers can thrive, take a look at the Made in NYC webiste (www.madeinnyc.org.) There you will find hundreds of New York City-based manufacturers. Some old (like us) and some brand new. Some second and third generation (we go back four generations) and some started by fearless young entrepreneurs who are bent on turning conventional wisdom on its head.
MadeInNYC.org is an initiative of the Pratt Institute (a true NYC treasure itself!) Part of its Institute for Community Development, the purpose of MadeInNYC,org is to be a resource for NYC-based manufacturers to promote what they do to consumers, suppliers and other manufacturers. Combining business savvy with academic discipline, the good folks at MadeInNYC.org have proven to be a true powerhouse in the emerging city-based manufacturing renaissance.
We are proud to be a member of MadeInNYC.org and we urge you to look for the logo above when shopping for products. It says a lot more than simply our city of origin. It says a lot about the manufacturers themselves. They are tough. They are resilient. They know that while manufacturing in NYC takes a lot out of you, specifically in terms of regulations, energy costs, permitting, etc, it gives you access to an invaluable resource: the vitality of the world’s greatest city.
Here at Worksman, we are proud to have survived for over 115 years. We are proud to remain the last large-scale manufacturer of cycles in the U.S. But we are most proud that we have done it while staying right here in New York City. For those fellow manufacturers who have stuck it out like us you have our deepest admiration. For those who have recently chosen to set up shop in NYC, we applaud you. And to our friends at MadeinNYC.org, a hearty thank you for your efforts.
Here at Worksman we tend to disregard the old rule of “throw out the old” when the new year comes around. We prefer to use a little elbow grease and shine up, grease and, when necessary, refurbish our equipment. You see, when you manufacture cycles in the “old school” style, it is handy to have some “old school” equipment around. And boy do we have some very cool vintage equipment here.
Some of our equipment, like those two beauties shown here, have been in our family up to 75 years. They have moved with us from Manhattan to Brooklyn to our current home in Queens. Examining them closely, you’ll not find a circuit board, digital counters or any way to connect them to a network. You will find a substantial chunk of steel, a “roadmap” of wires and a lot of hydraulic fluid. Most of our machines were built by American manufacturers long passed into history. But those war horses just keep churning away as they have for decades.
You see, we have no qualms with modern equipment. We even have a new machine in the factory that mounts our airless technology tires onto our proprietary rolled clincher rims (which, by the way, are built using some 60 year old machines we bought from the Schwinn Bicycle Company when they closed up shop here in the U.S.) Heck, we even have an array of solar-panels on our roof! But our philosophy regarding equipment is pretty much the same as our philosophy when designing bikes: make them simple, rugged, and timeless. And build them so they last for decades.
We’ve all heard the old saying “they sure don’t build them like they used to.” Well we agree – and disagree. When it comes to our vintage machinery, we add our voice to that sad lament. But when our customers receive their new bicycle or tricycle with its beautiful steel frame -fully lugged and welded by hand – its sturdy rims – each laced, tightened and trued by hand – and lustrous paint – sprayed on frame by frame – they know that there are still some products made “like they used to be.” Yep, and right here in New York City.
Our best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.