Everyone loves a good story and most great ideas come with a story filled with inspiration, tears, sweat, frustration, and a dash of luck here and there. The Feeney CableRail story is no different. How did a family-owned and operated rope and rigging shop on the edge of San Francisco Bay become synonymous with an architectural feature now beautifying tens of thousands of homes and commercial facilities worldwide?
It started with an idea:
“Back in the mid-1980s, my parents took a vacation to Europe and saw some cable rail infill systems there. My dad, Ernie Ralston (Feeney owner and president), thought to himself, ‘You know, this is something that I could use to expand my business back in California.’ So we started off just trying to figure out how to make marine cable work as a railing infill system. We were not a railing company. Architectural hardware was not on the horizon at the time.”
– Katrina Ralston, President of Sales/Finance/Operations, 16+ years with Feeney, Inc.
The idea travelled from Europe to California, and other people at Feeney realized they might be onto something:
“As a rigging supply company, we had access to a lot of beautiful yacht cable fittings that we thought would look great in architectural applications. So we selected a variety of fittings and cables and produced a sell sheet. We learned that architects referred to these types of cables as cable railings, so we called our product CableRail. We mailed out a small flyer to the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) which received a very strong response. A new product line was born.”
– Andrew Penny, Vice President of Marketing, 29 years with Feeney, Inc.
At first, people outside the company were skeptical:
“In the early years, people at trade shows would tease my dad mercilessly. They didn’t understand what we were trying to build. But dad kept his mouth shut and stuck to his dream of building a cable railing infill business. Today we continue to honor that dream by working harder than ever to win the business of architects, contractors, and homeowners.”
– Katrina Ralston
And as idea evolved, so the product took off:
“At first we sold the product direct to customers. We soon realized customers were confused by all the options for fittings. In the early 1990s we decided to create standard CableRail assemblies, including our Quick-Connect® fittings. It wasn’t an overnight success, but it was the start of something big.”
– Andrew Penny
And the product continues to evolve:
“After the initial launch of the product, we invested heavily into research and development. The result of that innovation led directly to the products you know today.
What’s interesting about product development at Feeney is that it’s constant and everyone is involved. Over time that has meant creating proprietary products and manufacturing systems, forming strategic partnerships, attracting and retaining talented employees, and establishing distribution centers, just to name a few of the ways we continue to invest and grow.”
– Andrew Toimil, Chief Product Officer, 14 years with Feeney, Inc.
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