Mapes is a family business currently four generations old.
The Mapes Piano String Company was founded in 1912 when William G. Schaff acquired the Stephen Mapes Piano String Company.
At the time, the piano business was second only to the wagon wheel industry in manufacturing scope and size.
During the 1920s and 30’s the company enjoyed huge growth in the piano string business; manufacturing strings for Steinway and other prestigious piano manufacturers.
During the 1940’s William G Schaff Jr. (Bill) initiated the production of guitar, mandolin, banjo and other small instrument strings.
He was the first to use hexagon shaped core wire in guitar strings and developed unique packaging that was imitated by nearly all the competition. During this time Mapes was the string supplier for C. F. Martin, Rickenbacker and other guitar manufacturers.
In the 1950’s Bill became increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of wire used to make music instrument strings and decided to produce it in house. This decision necessitated more space, a better work force and cheaper energy costs.
Elizabethton, TN proved to be the town geographically closest to New York with TVA generated electricity so the move was made and the wire mill was constructed in 1955.
This vertically integrated the company and allowed Mapes to refine the heat treating and wire drawing processes to produce quality levels previously unachievable.
Elizabethton proved to be a much better business climate than the South Bronx and the company flourished.
String production increased and the wire mill diversified into the spring wire business.
Music wire was highly sought for automotive and a variety of other mechanical applications.
The 1960’s and 70’s saw even more growth and the addition of torsion straightened and plated wire products. Guitar string core wire production was begun thereby vertically integrating the company even further.
By the 1980’s Mapes had become a world class international supplier of high quality wire products by pioneering quality control techniques.
Winning top honors for International Quality Awards in the spring wire industry became a common occurrence and the entire company benefited from the implementation of quality control methods.
During this period the company began making flat wire for the booming housing market.
Essentially used as a spiral spring in windows, flat wire became a standard product.
In the early 1990’s Mapes acquired Alloy Wire Services in Greensboro, NC. This positioned the company as a leading manufacturer of guitar string wrap wire, continued the corporate philosophy of vertical integration and consolidated from Greensboro to Elizabethton. By this point the company was situated in several buildings over four blocks in downtown Elizabethton and had achieved ISO 9000 certification.
In this millennium Mapes has begun processing several rare alloys used in electrical, resistance and mechanical applications.
These include nuclear, aerospace and defense industries where precision quality is critical.
Each step in the Mapes history has been a logical progression, as each new product and process was closely related to what had preceded it. By following our interests and best abilities, a common thread has been followed and a strong base of profitability has been established.