Westing Bridge LLC is a family-owned business that was started by four Zheng brothers and is based out of Hangzhou, China and Troy, MI. ChiaoGoo needles are manufactured in China and distributed from MI. The company has been in business since May 2005.
The Zheng brothers were born and grew up in Linan, China, “The Bamboo Capital of China”. Grandfather Zheng was a bamboo craftsman who spent the majority of his life traveling from town to town with his bamboo tool kit making household goods such as chairs, tables, mattress sheets, rice barrels, baskets and steamers. Father Zheng followed in his father’s footsteps and was able to build a workshop in the early 1980’s at the birth of the primitive free market in China. Father Zheng’s workshop produced similar household goods, but the primary product was bamboo knitting needles.
Demand for the needles originated with Mama Zheng, as she is an excellent knitter, and knit in order to keep her family warm during the long, cold winters. Mama Zheng would often knit extra items and sell them to neighbors and friends to make some extra money for her family of seven. She was the needle “tester” and frequently asked for special needles to meet her needs. Mama Zheng is the inspiration for the ChiaoGoo brand name which means “highly skillful and crafty lady”.
In the 1990’s, the family decided to expand the product line and its production capacity in order to prepare for overseas distribution. In 2005 the four sons made a milestone decision to incorporate the manufacturing part of the business, Hangzhou Westing Bridge LLC. At the same time, the youngest son, Leon, established Westing Bridge LLC in Troy, MI for the marketing and distribution of the bamboo needles outside of China.
Leon came to the US in 1997. He attended West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV where he received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a specialty in Laser Technology. After graduation, Leon upgraded the family business replacing key machinery to improve product quality, productivity and working conditions. He purchased a special laser to imprint the ChiaoGoo name and size on each needle produced.