Made In Kansas: Custom Rope

Posted: Updated:
KIOWA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Inside the oldest building in Kiowa, just a block off Main Street, sits "The Rope Factory."  But you might drive right past it, if you're not looking for it.

That's where Buddy "The Rope Man" Williams has manufactured his "Custom Rope" the past 30 years.  But Williams says he has been making rope since he was a child. Williams said back then, they called him "The Rope Kid."  

His full name is Sylvester Gustavus Williams.  He said his dad had such a hard time calling him by his given name that he nicknamed him Buddy, and it's stuck ever since.

He said rope-making has been handed down in the family over numerous generations. "Dad made rope when I was a kid,"  Williams said. "And my grandfather made rope.  His grandfather made rope.  Goes all the way back to Bible times."

The Rope Factory makes ropes of all sizes depending on what the customer orders. Williams said the sizes vary, from something thin enough for a clothesline to ropes big enough to moor a cruise liner to a dock. "Our 14-and-a-half-inch rope will pull a million pounds," he said.

Right now, Williams said the factory employs 12 workers, but will employ up to 26 when a rush of orders come in.

Williams has been marketing the rope all over the country, where he said it can be found in many hardware store chains as well as farm supply stores.

Many Kansans may remember the Rope Man from when he did rope-making demonstrations at the Kansas State Fair.   But since 1995, he's been doing his demonstrations and explaining the history of rope-making at Dollywood in Tennessee.

Williams said you will find his custom rope all over the world.  And it all starts with the strands coming together inside the former storefront building in Kiowa.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to


  • Most Popular Stories

    • Power lines are knocked down following accident

      Westar Energy is working to repair a traffic light after it was struck Sunday in northeast Wichita. 

    • Missing in Kansas: David & Gabriel Gendreau

      David and Gabriel Gendreau went missing from Lawrence, Kan., on Sept. 17. They may now be in Wichita.

    • Wichita crews prepare for slick roads

      Joe Pajor with the City of Wichita has his crew on standby in case the roads get slick. 

    • First winter storm of the season hits Kansas this weekend

      Accumulations from one to five inches of snow look likely for western and north-central Kansas. Wichita could see a few flurries, but no accumulation is expected.

    • Lamonte McIntyre

      Lawsuit: Kansas man convicted after mother rejected 'dirty cop'

      Lamonte McIntyre was 17 when he was arrested in 1994 in the deaths of 21-year-old Doniel Quinn and 34-year-old Donald Ewing. 

    • Floodwaters trap Reno County family

      A Reno County family has been trapped in their home since Tuesday. They're essentially living on an island thanks to flood waters.

    • Search for missing teen

      Wichita police are searching for a missing teen. 14-year-old Brendon Schaffer was reported missing around 3:30 p.m. Saturday from his home in the 1900 block of west MacArthur. 

    • Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, buckling under its massive debt load and staggering losses.

    • Man killed, 3 hurt in 5-vehicle crash in Kansas

      Authorities say one person has died and three others were hurt in a crash involving five vehicles in southeast Kansas. 

    • Family identifies man, woman killed in Derby murder-suicide

      The woman killed was Kristin Florio-Gile, a mother of six. A GoFundMe page says Gile was trying to get out of an abusive marriage and was under a protection from abuse order.