The KageWerks Story
Kevin Whaley with his grandfather, W. M. Eddings c 1975
The year was 1975, and after the relatively short life of his second pet hamster, company founder Kevin Whaley — then only 12 years old—decided with his parents that a rabbit would make a better pal. After acquiring that first Dutch rabbit, he couldn't find a suitable hutch or cage that offered enough space and protection. With the help of his grandfather; William M. Eddings, a retired master aerospace fabricator; they set out to build the ultimate hutch. At this young age, Whaley steadfastly observed his grandad's every meticulous step, his use of materials, tools, and old-school methods. Soon, Whaley's rabbit hobby expanded and he was building his second and third hutches. It wasn't long before neighbors and friends were asking to buy the well designed enclosures.
So, in 1976, his supportive parents allowed him to take over the family garage. Using money he earned from his paper-route, he purchased materials and tools and work began after school and on weekends. He purchased classified advertisements in the San Diego Union and Evening Tribune newspapers. He reinvestited his earnings into purchasing machines to increase quality and productivity. Through grade school and into high school he plugged along --building animal enclosures, dog houses and the like. He maintained a paper route and other part-time jobs. His mom, Kathryn (Eddings) Whaley would become his first employee helping to assemble cages. He gradually outgrew the garage operation and moved into his first factory, a small rented warehouse in El Cajon, California.
Little did he know his burgeoning cottage industry would eventually become his livelihood which would turn into today's global organization. He took high school and college courses that would enhance his knowledge of design and animal husbandry. He learned early CAD design, desktop publishing, and database design on his original Apple Macintosh computer purchased in 1986. He self taught welding, sheetmetal fabrication, stamping, plastic injection molding, and all phases of manufacturing technology attending trade fairs and shows.
Over the years, Whaley enthusiastically raised all manner of critters whether they could hop, crawl or fly to learn about their vast and varying needs. He has introduced countless design ideas that have been innovations in the industry.
He obsessively soaked in all forms of applicable trade knowledge as a junior industrial engineer to evolve into an industry leading inventor and amnufacturing engineer with patents and trademarks to his credit. Today, Whaley is known as an expert in animal enclosure design and has consulted on zoological enclosure design including avairies for the most endanegered of avian species. He has consulted on animal air-transportation container design standards as published by the Internatiaonal Air Transport Aassociation (IATA). He has served as a court-approved expert witness in matters involvimg exotic animal enclosure design and construction. He is a lifetime member of the American Rabbit Breeders Associationas well as the American Federation of Aviculture .
Now over four decades later, the original KW Cages has grown into KageWerks, Inc., a diversified manufacturing and distribution company with multiple divisions focused on specialized products to enhance the lives and experiences of animals and their keepers. The company has distributors across the United States and field representatives throughout the globe. The company continues to grow and was recently named to Inc. Magazine's Inc 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the United States for two years in a row. The nation's leading zoos, theme parks, animal rehabilitation experts, veterinarians, animal care facilities and humane organizations are regular customers. Many of the original customers, their children, and grand children continue to purchase products.
Whaley founded and helped design and fund development of the American Rabbit Breeders Association Hall of Fame and Library in 1996. In 2022, he founded the American Rabbit Breeders Assosciation Museum at the ARBA headquarters in Knox, Pennsylvania. The museum features exhibits and interactive diplays showcasing the history of the domestic rabbit in the United States. The Museum is afiliated with the American Alliance of Museums.
- 1976 Company founded in parents' garage.
- 1977 First cages sold at county rabbit show at Del Mar fairgrounds.
- 1977 First illustrated price list is 1 page.
- 1979 First illustrated catalog is 8 pages.
- 1981 First decimal stock list is created on parent's Underwood typewriter.
- 1982 Catalog grows to 12 pages and is passed out at Seattle, Washington ARBA Convention.
- 1983 Company exhibits at ARBA convention in Colorado Springs, Co.
- 1984 Catalog grows to 16 pages and company has 2 employees.
- 1985 Company introduces Litter Saver a product that has saved the lives of countless rabbit kits.
- 1985 Company moves from garage to its first 1,000 square foot "factory" in El Cajon, CA.
- 1986 Catalog grows to 24 pages.
- 1986 Company is computerized using Apple Macintosh computers.
- 1987 Many of the companies original advanced designs are created during this era.
- 1987 Company furnishes animal cages to Camp Snoopy at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA.
- 1988 Company acquires toll free number 800-447-CAGE
- 1988 Company expands El Cajon factory to 3,000 square feet.
- 1988 Company introduces Hexagon Aviary, a best seller to this day.
- 1989 Company launches Wingz Avian Products catalog showcasing aviaries.
- 1990 Catalog grows to 40 pages.
- 1991 Company acquires Nivek Corporation, a manufacturer of small animal automatic watering systems.
- 1991 Company introduces its first plastic wash down system (Rabbitech) at the ARBA Convention in Pomona, CA.
- 1992 Catalog grows to 52 pages.
- 1995 Company launches kwcages.com
- 1996 Company opens Central California branch near Fresno.
- 1996 Has product display at the 5th World Rabbit Congress
- 1999 Company opens its first E-Store and digitized print catalog.
- 1995 Company purchases a 20,000 square feet modern tilt-up concrete factory on 1.1 acres in Santee, CA.
- 1996 Over the course of a month company moves into new facilities.
- 1996 Company sponsors and helps found the ARBA Hall of Fame Library
- 2001 Company celebrates 25th year in business.
- 2001 Company raises giant USA flag over sheet metal department as a tribute to lives lost in New York and Pennsylvania during the 9/11 terrorist disaster.
- 2003 Company acquires Motor Marker Industries line of Inkinators tattoo equipment.
- 2004 Company acquires SI Staloch's Industries a manufacturer of perforated rabbit feeders.
- 2005 Company introduces 3 level Rabbitech system.
- 2006 Company introduces new Flip-N-Fill water bottles from Nivek division.
- 2007 Company enjoys status as a preffered supplier to many major zoos.
- 2007 Company publishes first full color Wingz catalog.
- 2007 company furnishes guinea pig cages for Walt Disney Picture's G-Force movie.
- 2008 Company introduces BirdLoft a weather-sheltered bird aviary.
- 2009 Company introduces the Retro Carrier single rabbit transport cage.
- 2009 Company appears in live build of tiger enclosure for ABC TV.
- 2010 Company incorporates as KageWerks, Inc., a California Corporation
- 2011 Company introduces Groom N Go groomer's table and storage case.
- 2012 Company registers Sift-O-Matic feeders with US Patent and Trade Mark office.
- 2013 Company introduces KW Flyers line of rabbit hopping equipment.
- 2014 Company expands and renovates outlet store.
- 2014 Company launches its all new ecommerce stores, kwcages.com and wingzstore.com.
- 2015 Company completes World of Birds aviary complex enclosure and training facility for major zoo.
- 2015 Company modernizes factory with state of the art metal cutting system.
- 2016 Company celebrates 40th year in business.
- 2016 Company is named to Inc. Magazine's, Inc 5000 list of fastest growing private company in the United States
- 2017 Company continues 40th anniversary celebration through June.
- 2017 Company is named to Inc. Magazine's, Inc 5000 list of fastest growing private company in the United States for second year in a row!
- 2018 Company fully automates its Siftomatic feeder stamped parts production using a coil-fed press technology.
- 2019 Company acquires land and 4,000 square foot warehouse and showroom in Ohio to establish a midwest outlet.
- 2019 Company acquires assets of Carriage House Products, a manufacturer of plastic feeders and cups for birds and small animals.
- 2020 sets out on $1,000,000 manufacturing modernization and automation project at Santee factory.
- 2021 Company brings online thier fully robotic sheetmetal blanking system and begin "lights out" production 24-7.
- Photos Archives:
1977 Price List
1986 Mac Plus Computer
1986 Computerized Order Desk
1996 5th World Rabbit Congress
Dr. T. E. Reed
2007 Color Wingz Catalog