First American made embroidery machines. The Gross Embroidery Automat was the first company manufacturing multihead embroidery machines in the USA. The brothers Charles and Raymond Gross had a lock on the market with their machines. These are the machines first used by golf shirt companies. Most notably Munsingwear with the little penguin.
The machines were manufactured in Bergenfield, N. J. because of the proximity to the garment and design center in New York. They were relatively cheap and with labor costs so low the embroidery pricing was very competitive.
The machines were mechanical and jacquard driven. The machines had one needle and three stands for thread. The machine was programmed to stop at each color change. All color changes were done by hand. The speed of the machine was 220 stitches per minute. The max stitch length was 4mm there was no jump stitch mechanism.
I can remember going to the Bobbin Show in Atlanta in 1977 and their machines were on display. The machines were very practical and competitively priced. I think you could buy a machine for around $6,500.00.
I can also remembering visiting with Charles Gross and discussing improving his machines to have a jump stitch, automatic color change and more than one needle. He was so confident in his machines that he felt changes were not necessary.
We discussed the new Japanese machines also on display at the show.. The new machines from Japan had color change, jump stitch, and at least 6 needles. The price was 4 times that of a Gross Automat. The feeling was that you could get 4 Gross Automats for the price of one of one of the Japanese models. He was a strong believer that the machines we too complicated to operate.
Both Tajima and Barudan were exhibiting that year in Atlanta. Their machines were in the $25,000 to $30,000 price range. I don’t think anyone could imagine how the embroidery industry was set to grow with the introduction of this new equipment. In those days everyone made money using single color clunkers.
As the Japanese machines took over the market the Gross machines were now fading into the sunset. I read that Charles Gross died about 9 years ago not realizing that he was the grandfather of embroidery in America.