Made In Kansas: Custom Rope

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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.

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