In the early 1950s, Glen Marica, the owner of a hanger wire machine and wire straightening business, embarked on an ambitious pursuit. His goal: to invent a machine that could make the best wire form tie possible. After 10 years and much trial and error, he finally perfected his wire tie machine, which is still being used today with only slight modifications.
“He threw out three machines and started over until he finally got it right,” says Dan Pepping, president of Concrete Special Ties and Manufacturing Corp., Denver, Colo. Dan’s father, Nick Sr., now owns Marica’s business after purchasing it from him in the 1980s when Marica retired.
Marica’s machine makes form ties out of high-tensile spring steel and puts two square knots in each one for added strength. “Because of the two built-in square knots and high-tensile wire, our ties have a safe working load of 2,000 pounds” says Nick Sr.
The super-strength steel wire also eliminates bulges and helps reduce voids under ties. Another unique feature is the 1/8-inch break-back manufactured into each tie. This allows contractors to easily remove protruding wires after forms are stripped by simply knocking them away with a hammer or other handy object, eliminating the need for special tools.
Marica’s goal was to make the best wire form ties possible.
The result is a smooth wall with no sharp wire projections that can interfere with subsequent application of waterproofing materials.
Concrete Special Ties sells its Little Giant Form Ties primarily to smaller residential contractors, who use them with the plywood rod tie forming system to build foundations or retaining walls. Dan says that residential contractors like the ties because they are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and save labor. To make it easier for workers to cut the forms loose from the wall, the company also sells a lightweight aluminum cutter designed specifically for wire form ties.
Despite doing very little advertising, Concrete Special Ties has distributors throughout the United States and is looking for additional distributors. “Through word of mouth by customers who use our ties, we’ve slowly branched out” says Nick Sr. And word has spread quite a distance. The company has supplied ties to locations as far away as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Canada
To meet customer demand, Concrete Special Ties has developed two more machines based on Marica?s original model. Now with three machines, the company can fabricate 8-, 9-, and 10-inch ties, using one machine to produce each size. “The additional machines increase manufacturing efficiency. Every 90 minutes, we can make 11,000 ties,” says Dan. And now a fourth machine is in the works to make 12-inch ties.
Even in today’s world of rapidly advancing technology and intense competition, the products of Marica’s 45-year-old invention remain a favorite with concrete contractors. “These machines are entirely homemade. That’s what makes them and the ties they produce so unique,” says Dan.