History

The history of Riverdale Mills is a classic American story of hard work, perseverance, and entrepreneurship. Back in the 1960’s Jim Knott, Sr., Riverdale’s eventual founder, owned a leading industrial coatings company and was awarded several patents on innovative new coating processes. Jim eventually sold his coatings company to a wire mesh manufacturer who soon after became his employer. During this time, Jim got involved in part-time lobstering operating his own boat out of the famous fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Jim used the same old wooden lobster traps that had been used in the industry for over 100 years. They had the irritating habit of breaking virtually every time the lobsterman hauled the trap, which could be as often as two or three times a week.

Jim got the idea that a trap made of wire would be lighter than the wooden version when out of the water, and would be easier on the lobsterman’s back. They would also be heavier than the wooden version when in the water, so that they would sink quickly and tend to stay in their assigned place. Finally, the wire traps would be considerably more durable than the wooden ones.

Jim began work on developing a suitable coating system that would protect the wire from the ravages of the harsh sea. He would concoct a formula, make some samples and try the material in the ocean. This trial and error period extended over several years until Jim finally got it right. He developed a method to continuously galvanize a complete, long roll of welded mesh referred to as galvanized after welding, followed by a similar method that uniformly fusion bonded a thick coating of marine grade PVC outercoating to the galvanized substrate. He named this new coated wire “Aquamesh®”.

Jim now had to convince the local lobstermen to start using wire instead of wood while building their traps. It took many years of walking the docks of New England, touting the benefits of Aquamesh®, until eventually the fishermen started trying out this new wire to make traps and realized what Jim knew all along: it worked much better than wood.

Jim left his job and went into the wire mesh manufacturing business for himself, starting Riverdale Mills in 1979. He purchased an old run-down former textile and paper mill in Northbridge, Massachusetts and completely renovated it. Riverdale Mills began producing Aquamesh®, which has become the standard material used for all North American lobster traps.

Today Riverdale Mills manufactures a wide variety of welded wire mesh for many different applications. The mill has been expanded several times and now occupies almost 400,000 square feet and employs over 100 workers. Riverdale has also expanded its brands which now include Aquamesh®, Marinemesh®, WireWall®, Geomesh™ and Soft-Step™, which are worldwide leaders in the marine, aquaculture, security, and agriculture industries. Riverdale Mills has become a trusted and respected American manufacturer known for supplying the highest quality wire mesh available in the marketplace.