For three generations, Ronald Schoenheit’s family has been weaving wire into gold.
“My grandfather was a master wire weaver at Pacific Fence and Wire in the 1920s,” he says. “He installed the first chain link fence in Portland area.”
By the 1980s, Schoenheit’s father had established Cascade Coil Drapery in Tualatin, Ore. The privately-held firm, 34 employees strong, now produces wire mesh that’s both decorative and functional, for commercial and residential applications.
Architects and designers have traditionally used it for light control and modulation, and for partitions that allow sound in.
But up here in the 21st century, it’s being used for security too:
“We’ve got new products for blast protection and protection from flying glass,” he says. “When it’s used as a window treatment, it saves lives and reduces injuries. We ship about 40 percent all over the world – we’ve got a huge job now for the Canadian embassy in Cairo.”
His products are seen by the general public most often in restaurants, casinos and hotels, among them the W Hotel in Boston, the Hyatt Chicago and Craft New York.
“There are energy savings during the winter and the summer,” he says. “And it just qualified it for the Living Building project. Since it’s fireproof, you don’t have to worry about adding chemicals to the room, like off-gassing from plastic.”
At 71, Schoenheit’s a sharp and aggressive marketer who’s always on the lookout for new applications.
“One of new products that we’re really excited about is shower curtains made out of wire mesh,” he says.
Woven from aluminum and coated in lacquer, they’re available in almost any color.
Blast-protective or not, they’ll still look good.