Gretchen Salois Portrait

From the
Senior Editor


Mastering logistics


rom its headquarters in Wilmington, North Carolina, Bradford Products fashions buildings all over the world with its meticulously designed and fabricated stainless steel swimming pools. The manufacturer has a very specific criteria for its welders. To ensure it has a sufficient talent pool, the company works with Cape Fear Community College to train welders in skills specific to Bradford.

“Wilmington is not a huge town, so word of mouth has drawn a lot of interest and brought students to the area,” says Michael Brodeur, CEO. Once hired, these welders find themselves working anywhere from deserts, the sides of mountains or rooftops on high-rise buildings.

Each project requires attention not only to aesthetics and design, but also how the pool will travel to its final destination. Breaking apart a 15- by 40-ft. stainless steel swimming pool to transport it through the streets of London required months of advanced planning. It had to be prefabricated, cut in half with lifting lugs welded to each piece for cranes to grab onto. Government permits to remove roadside features and physically maneuvering through tight London streets with flatbed trailers was no small feat—but it’s the type of job Bradford is used to doing.

More than 160 employees make up Bradford’s network of designers, fabricators and administrators. Drawings go back and forth between departments before reaching the 180,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing floor where, at any time, 10 or more swimming pools are in various stages of production.

It is necessary for Bradford to maintain a steady stream of talent because unlike robotic welders, a person is required to adapt to the limitations that vary from site to site. Welders TIG weld where robots can’t reach. Stainless steel pieces are cut down and reassembled differently with each project, depending on where the pool is being installed.

For example, in dense urban landscapes, the pools are cut into smaller parts capable of fitting inside a freight elevator and reassembled on site. If a pool is traveling through expansive Nevada deserts, large steel pieces are transported via semi-trailer truck beds.

Companies like Bradford are using traditional welding techniques to execute modern and wondrous designs. I invite you to take a moment to read this month’s cover story starting on page 14. The next time you’re floating absentmindedly 50 stories in the air, take a minute to appreciate the logistical hurdles that preceded the man-made haven.

Image of Facebook icon
Tell us what you think! Post Your comments on our Facebook page!