As you know, we’ve taken some pains to make absolutely everything having to do with Brooklyn Copper Cookware here in the US – design, tools, metal smithing and metal itself, all done here. We committed to this not for chauvinistic or nationalistic reasons, but because we believe that people, companies, farms, and entire economies are at their best when they appreciate, pay attention to and integrate with their immediate environment. We feel very strongly that BCC’s integrity is built, like the pans themselves, from the good and the great to be found right in our midst, on these shores. In turn, a good cooking tool – used to nourish our loved ones – integrates in a way few other trappings of daily life can.
Having the most complex elements in place to begin making the very best copper cookware, the last, smallest part challenged our commitment: We could not find copper rivets made in the US. In desperation after six weeks of looking, I researched importing copper rivets – ironically made from sheet metal milled in the US, which is then exported to have “value added” elsewhere. Like other copper cookware manufacturers, we could have gotten quantity (and, in fairness, quality) easily and quickly from abroad.
So, we kept moving on the rivets. But, having solicited and received a number of very competitive quotes from Brazil, India and China, I pondered BCC’s integrity, as well as my own. Delayed yet again for several weeks, with a long list of patient customers and stacks of finished pan parts, to think about importing our rivets was anything but expedient! Still, we had a few domestic possibilities to chase down, and all our smiths joined us in the hunt, as did allies, friends, relations, and even long-time customers, all seeking a 1/3 ounce mushroom of metal, readily available half a world away, but elusive here.
In the throes of all this fevered searching and quickly coming to the end of our list of domestic rivet forges, a friend called to say she’d heard from an uncle (a retired blacksmith and farrier) of a guy running a small cold forge in Markesan, WI, making mostly hollow body rivets for leather work, but said to have copper. Cash operation, phone, no email. I called immediately. Bill, owner of Prairie Rivet, picked up the phone.
Not only could he do heavy metal-joining rivets, he had the right gauge wire in stock and the tooling to make the specific size I was looking for. Terms? “How about 30 days? We trust folks.” Samples? “Tool ’em today, send ’em tomorrow.” Lead time? “You approve the samples and I’ll have the order shipped by the following Friday.” More? “As much as you need – wire’s two days away in Oshkosh. We can always run another shift if you go crazy.” Sense of humor? “No wonder you’re in copper. Up here Kohler means plumbing. I see your name several times a day.”
Not more than two weeks later thousands of tested and approved solid copper rivets came through the door in Dayton (where handles were waiting to be married to pans), made by a tiny forge on the Wisconsin prairie. And get this: They cost less than the least expensive import.
So, not only does integrity pay, it may be no more than keeping one’s goals clearly in mind so answers are recognized when they show up.
The America in which Brooklyn Copper Cookware is made extends from New York through Ohio and Indiana and now to Wisconsin. And, as you can see in the photos, pots and pans are at last being made.