Brookfield-based Walsh Products Inc. made a name for itself in 1914 with its innovative no-buckle horse harness. It replaced a buckling system with snaps to more easily hitch a draft horse to a cart. The company is still known for its harnesses, though they're no longer made for plowing. It manufactures harnesses, halters, bridles and other accessories used in competition in the Standardbred, Thoroughbred, Show Horse and Equestrian markets. "The Standardbred industry will always be our bread and butter," said Thea Treiber, vice president and co-owner of Walsh. She and her husband, Paul, president and chief executive officer, purchased it in 2002.
It's not often you hear about a company that still makes buggy whips, let alone halters and harnesses with a sewing machine from the late 1800s. Yet that's the case at Walsh Products, a century-old Brookfield company that makes harnesses for Standardbred racehorses, including entries from the first trainer in the sport to accumulate $100 million in purses. Walsh, which has a 40,000-square-foot facility on Calhoun Road, has survived by staying in the winner's circle and adapting to new markets, including exports that now comprise about a third of its sales and have increased 30% in the last two years.