In 1923, the world was full of promise. World War I was over, and times were prosperous. The now 100-year-old Hollywood sign in California lit up the mountain slopes, and Vice President Calvin Coolidge became President. Russian-American inventor, Vladimir Zworykin, filed his first U.S. patent for an all-electronic “television system.”
That same year, James Cox’s company, Coxreels® was born, destined not just to survive, but to become the premier worldwide manufacturer of the highest quality hose, cable, and cord reels.
A hundred years later, now in its third generation of family ownership, Coxreels is thriving. Creating products synonymous with quality, durability, and tradition, the team at Coxreels has many past innovations to recall while developing new and innovative products for the coming decades.
A century of building Coxreels
“This year, we’re reflecting on our humble beginnings and James Cox’s vision of providing a better service station experience for attendants and customers,” says Jerry Medley, Vice President of Sales and Business Development. “From those humble beginnings to where we are now is nothing short of incredible.”
Proving itself as a leader in innovation, design, and quality, the company’s unique products have changed the way industrial professionals work every day, revolutionizing the industry. “We’re truly the pioneers in the design and manufacturing of hose, cable, and cord reels,” says Medley. “The very definition of pioneer, ‘One who goes before, showing others the way to follow,’ is who we are as a company. James Cox would be very proud to see what this company has become over the last 100 years, but he’d be even prouder to see how many lives have changed for the better because of the company’s success.”
Now the industry standard, Coxreels’ superior made-in-America products, from spring-driven reels to EZ-coil reels, hand crank reels to motorized reels, also include a full range of accessories for construction, transportation, marine, automotive, and many other sectors. Industry leaders worldwide put their trust in Coxreels products.
Under its third generation of family leadership, Coxreels has grown significantly in equipment manufacturing and automation and product research and development, but has stayed true to its core focus of manufacturing in the USA and growing and developing internationally.
This includes the establishment of CRI (Coxreels International); a constant drive for manufacturing efficiency and automation; and a focus on “all in-house” production from start to finish. This encompasses research, engineering, prototyping and review, manufacturing, marketing, and sales and administration.
“Improving quality by engineering it into the design and with automated manufacturing and process controls, Coxreels Cell Assembly equates to a single assembler building the reel from start to finish and putting their name on each reel,” says company President Brad Cox.
While many manufacturers tout “Made in America,” many people, says Coxreels’ Design Engineering Manager John Kucera, don’t fully grasp the importance of American-made products. Apart from the obvious—which includes stable production, local control for improved quality, and better responsiveness—another advantage is how USA-made products benefit the entire economic ecosystem nationwide.
“Everyone has heard of the value of keeping the dollars local, but sometimes the true impact is difficult to understand,” says Kucera. “By buying something that we build in the USA we’re supporting all the other businesses who in turn pass that support on in their area.”
At Coxreels, operations start with purchasing sheet, rod, and spring steels from American steel plants. This supports other national companies and their workforces, along with local mining and machinery operations.
Hoses used in Coxreels products are purchased from local hose distributors, who use local fittings, materials, and powder coating from local powder coat suppliers. Even cost-of-operation products—like chemicals, cleaners, rags, and toilet paper—are sourced locally. “And by packaging and shipping in Arizona, we are a large portion of a local corrugator’s business who, in turn, supports U.S. paper sources and all the involved workforces,” adds Kucera.
Actively purchasing products and services from supply-chain businesses including outside processing operations, tool suppliers, uniform providers, insurance agents, carpet cleaners, banking, repair and maintenance companies, and transportation services further represents Coxreels’ commitment.
“That dollar spent on a USA-manufactured good goes so far to support so many people far beyond just the manufacturer of the particular product,” comments Kucera. “We’re proud to be part of our economic ecosystem and strive to source and produce as much in the USA as possible.”
For Medley, working with American suppliers and other entities represents a keystone of Coxreels’ success over the past century. “We have an unwavering commitment to the values and principles that this country was built on,” he says. “The values and principles that have made American-made products the flagship for quality, innovation, and excellence throughout the world are the guiding principles in everything we do.”
The additional steps the company takes in the manufacturing process, the high standards and expectations Coxreels demands from its supplier partners, and the way the company treats its staff remain a testament to what being a true ‘American-made’ manufacturer means. “Customers expect the best, and as an ‘American-Made’ manufacturer, we feel a great sense of obligation to deliver on those expectations,” comments Medley. “Coxreels’ unwavering commitment to delivering the highest quality products available is why we’ve become one of the most trusted hose reel brands for industry professionals worldwide,” he says.
“A leopard can’t change its spots any more than we can change who we are as a company. Being American-made is part of our DNA here at Coxreels. We’re American-made. Our customers know it, our competition knows it, and we’re very proud of it.”
Building on decades of experience means Coxreels creates quality products that its many customers have come to expect. Yes, there are more steps in Coxreels’ manufacturing process than with other reel providers, but it is those extra steps—many unique to Coxreels and refined over the years—that result in the strongest, most durable, best-built reels available.
The reels hold up under extreme conditions that often prove too much for competitor reels because of the integrity that goes into the making of every product under the Coxreels name.
One example of short-cut manufacturing, says Medley, is the stamping process used to produce those inferior hose reel disks. This has become all too common among many reel manufacturers, as they sacrifice quality and workmanship for speed of production. Although stamping saves time and money, the process sacrifices the workmanship and toughness required for the rigors of many industrial applications.
A long time in the business has proved to Coxreels that the strongest disks are those spun on a CNC spinning machine, which ensures uniform thickness, durability, rigidity, better functionality, and a longer lifespan, sometimes by decades. By comparison, stamping a disk over a form stretches the metal, causing thin spots in the disk, making them weaker and less durable.
“They sacrifice quality in the pursuit of fast profits and speed to market. All you need to do is visit the country’s landfills to see their handiwork,” Medley says.
“We don’t cut corners in our manufacturing processes in the pursuit of profits,” he adds. “We build one type of reel, and that’s the very best that can be produced. Everything we do in the design and manufacturing of a Coxreels is done deliberately. Over the years, we have learned the design and engineering features needed to produce reels that will hold up to the rigors of any application, and it shows.” As confirmation, other manufacturers have been known to copy Coxreels’ design and engineering features.
Never resting on its past achievements, Coxreels continues to be the first to market, with more features and design improvements than any other company. Some of the innovations pioneered by the Coxreels team include low-profile risers, slotted drums, external fluid paths, Brawny drum stiffeners, and EZCoils, which are now found on competitors’ reels throughout the world.
Always something new
Committed to meeting the future needs of its customers, Coxreels is actively working on new products. Many of the company’s latest reels are developed as custom products and specifically tailored for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or application. However, says Kucera, the company does offer some larger-scale products.
One of its latest releases is the Hi-Vis Safety Hose Reel. “The Hi-Vis Safety Reels are designed to increase awareness and visibility to create the safest environment possible,” says Kucera. “Featured on P, SH, and T series, Hi-Vis hose is a hybrid bright yellow hose with a white glossy stripe available in ⅜” and ½”. Hybrid hoses [PVC and rubber blend] offer similar performance to rubber with the light weight of PVC, combining positive features of both hose types.”
Another larger product is the XTM Extreme Duty Reel, which is even stronger than the T-Series. “Where use becomes abuse, we have the XTM Extreme Duty Reel,” says the company.
To ensure superior rigidity, the reel features a completely welded box frame, multiple axle supports, and swivel lock support plates. Every model has dual bearings, which ensure perfectly smooth drum rotation regardless of the rough, bumpy environments of off-road applications where hard impacts are the norm. Every reel offers an upgraded spring motor for extra strength—which works well in dirty, unforgiving environments—and has stainless steel one-inch-diameter heavy-duty guide rollers as standard.
“Due to the success of this product line, we’ve recently expanded the line with the addition of a dual hydraulic reel on the extreme-duty platform,” says Kucera.
In some instances, the innovation may be harder to see, but is always there. “We continuously work to improve our main running products. One of our recent substantial updates has been to the whole 100 series line with redesigned plumbing and drum assemblies resulting in improved corrosion resistance, welding processes, and painting process,” he explains.
“Another large enhancement was a new swivel design implemented on the ever-popular vacuum series reels. We also expand successful product lines, such as the addition of our V112 for 1-1/4” vacuum hose,” he shares.
“Currently, we have two major projects for new products in the works which we cannot discuss yet. Stay tuned for some great stuff in 2024!”