Drum carders – Silverton cottage industry ships fiber arts device across globe

July 2022 Posted in Business

By Melissa Wagoner

When Gabriel and John Berukoff’s construction business slowed down in 2007, the brothers weren’t sure what their next step would be.

“We were thinking we might get into making cabinets,” Gabriel recalled. 

But then their sister, a fiber arts hobbyist who processed, spun and dyed her own yarn, came to them with a problem. Her drum carder – the machine used to comb and separate newly harvested fibers – needed some TLC.

The Berukoff brothers’ model drum carder.

The Berukoff brothers’ model drum carder.

And so, helpful brothers that they are, the Berukoffs refurbished the machine. But they didn’t stop there. Intrigued by their sister’s hand-cranked wood and steel instrument, they decided to build their own and then, once it was complete, to list it on eBay. Little did they know, one machine would become two and before long they had a booming home business.

“We were surprised how many people out there do this kind of fiber arts,” Gabriel said. 

And by how few companies make drum carders.

“There was a company in Canada, they made these bigger machines,” Gabriel said, referring to the renowned Patrick Green line of drum carders, which he and John eventually purchased as a way of expanding their own Silverton-based company, Brother Drum Carder. 

“We have a few upgrades we’ve done,” Gabriel said, referring to the line of larger, Patrick Green-inspired motorized drum carders they now create and ship all over the world. 

But they still make the smaller manual style as well.

“A lot of people do this for a hobby,” Gabriel said. That translates into the need for the smaller, easier to maneuver version, particularly in places like the Willamette Valley where sheep, alpaca and hemp fiber production is common. 

In other words, the industry – which has been around for thousands of years – won’t be going away any time soon. Neither will Brother Drum Carder. 

“We want to keep growing,” Gabriel confirmed, listing the company’s expansion into larger, more mechanized carders as well as the addition of the brothers’ cousin, Ed Berukoff,  and the move into a larger facility among the most recent changes. 

They also want to continue to stay regional, planning to hire mostly family and to continue working near their own homes. 

“It’s a cottage industry for a cottage industry,” Gabriel said proudly.

For information visit www.brotherdrumcarder.com.

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