Our Story

Gulo’s Innovative Approach

Gulo Composites

Gulo Composites is a new brand of a thirty-nine-year-old advanced materials manufacturing company, KEIR Manufacturing, Inc. in Brevard NC with deep experience in advanced composite manufacturing.

When you visit western NC stop by our Wheelhouse and meet our wheel builders, select your wheelset then enjoy what it is to ride on incredibly light, tough, and responsive wheels. Our wheels are hand built by exceptionally well trained and knowledgeable builders.

Company Origins

A Little History
I started KEIR Manufacturing Inc when I was twenty-six years old. I moved from northern Michigan to Brevard, NC after a few years in management of a fascinating technical ceramic manufacturer. Those first experiences right out of college from the University of Michigan ignited a passionate interest in me for the creativity of manufacturing. In many ways KEIR Manufacturing is an experiment in the inventive nature of people. We have taken on many challenges to solving tough industrial applications over the years with great success. The challenge was how to create a working environment where people feel free to fail in small ways on their journey to accomplish great things. I learn best by doing. I believe most people do. At KEIR we set our sights on ambitious goals, solving complex and challenging problems and then let the collaboration, engineering and hands-on experimentation begin.

gulo coporate headquarters

KEIR Manufacturing Corporate Offices in Brevard, North Carolina

KEIR surname

KEIR is a surname that has been used for several generations within my family as a middle name. It’s specific genealogy for my family was unknown but of Scottish origin. When I incorporated the technical ceramic business in 1983 the maximum field length available for computers was six alpha-numeric characters. At the time nearly all vendors and customer names had to be abbreviated in ways that kept them somewhat sorted. By incorporating as KEIR in all caps I was determined to stand out on the computer lists that had become so prevalent in business offices. Of course, within a year, field lengths began to grow so it no longer mattered. As the company grew into different markets and new technologies, we branded various products we developed to help customers from the different markets we serve find our products readily.

owner david watkins with son

David Keir Watkins with son, William at BWR, North Carolina

New Technology

The Triaxially Braided Carbon Composite Spoke

By 2017 we had committed to at least one product line for the bicycle industry employing a new technology we developed incorporated into a composite spoke. This would be our first consumer product requiring a whole different approach to marketing and branding. We knew that if a customer looking for our bike components went to KEIR’s website for information, they would think they were in the wrong place. So, we established a separate web presence just for the bicycle branded products.

It soon was time to come up with a name for these products. My son William was a senior at the University of Michigan, and daughter Sarah worked for the University. They suggested “Gulo”, the genome of a wolverine. Their reasoning was that they had over their lives witnessed KEIR having many characteristics of the wolverine, such as its tenacious pursuit of business objectives much larger and challenging than small companies typically would go after, KEIR’s innate ability to succeed where others fail, its wide range of interests and unique skillset, as well as remarkable agility and instincts and inventiveness. Gulo also fits because it is a name like KEIR was that nobody knows, so we can define it ourselves through our products and service.

gulo grd 46 road wheels

Gulo GRD 46 Road Series Wheelset

Home of Kirkpatrick Macmillan, inventor of the bicycle

Since the internet today brings so much information to anyone, I have learned with amusing fascination the more specific origins of the name KEIR, a parish in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. In 1839 the first pedal operated bicycle was invented in the crossroad village of KEIR Mill by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a blacksmith’s son.

-David Keir Watkins
President/CEO

Courthill Smithy, Keir Mill

Courthill Smithy, Keir Mill
Creator: Kevin Rae, Source: Geograph, License: CC BY-ND 2.0