Grav Labs: Rising To Greatness
Grav Labs: Rising To Greatness
Most people celebrate the Jewish holiday of Chanukkah with Hebrew songs, oil-fried foods and the spinning of dreidels. David Daily - founder of the scientific glass company Grav Labs - decided to celebrate it by making the “Menorah Bong”. Like an actual menorah, this water pipe has 9 glass bowls which are filled, lit, and then removed one at a time. While more of a show of a skill than a piece to be used regularly, Grav Labs' Menorah Bong is an example of David’s inventive spirit. That inventive spirit was revealed in 2004 when he created the Gravitron, America’s first commercially sold gravity bong.
What's A Gravity Bong?
For those who don’t know, gravity bongs (specifically bucket bongs in this case) are constructed by taking a bottle, cutting off the bottom and implanting a bowl into the bottle’s cap (the bowl is usually made of a metal socket or tinfoil). That bottle is then placed in a filled bucket where it fills with water before the bowl is loaded with herb or tobacco and then lit. Once lit, the user pulls the bottle upward, creating a vacuum that builds denser than average smoke which is then ‘shotgunned’ once the cap is removed by pushing the bottle back into the water.
The Beginning of Grav Labs
Given that practically anyone can make a gravity bong, it didn’t occur to David that his mastery of the craft would be profitable until his friend suggested he try to sell them online. So he retrieved a thrown out McCormick’s vodka bottle and sawed off the bottom of it. He had the bottle, but he needed an a container to put it in. Nobody was going to buy a vodka bottle in a trash can, he thought. It was David’s mother who gave him the idea of using a wine bottle instead. He then realized that the uniformity and attractive look of the wine bottle would be a compelling draw for customers. He paired the sleek bottles with vases purchased from Michael’s and cut a deal with local glass producers to get bowls and downstems in bulk. And thus, the Gravitron was born.
Starting the Business
David’s initial responses were encouraging; he averaged 20-25 sales of his homemade Gravitrons a month while still working as mortgage loan processor. Going to his first glass trade show pushed David to expand as he then recognized how fast the high quality glass market was growing. He began to market the Gravitron at shows and magazines, which caused a demand that led to the hiring of Grav Labs’ first employees. Despite its initial success, Grav Labs wasn’t able to turn a profit until David realized that his self-taught knowledge of glassblowing (which he needed in order to affordably produce bowls and downstems) could be used to make glass pipes. His first pipe was Grav Labs’ signature Taster Chillum, which he first gave away at industry events. The notoriety of David’s Gravitron meant headshops were more than willing to sell his new pipes. Re-energized, David went out and bought a glassworking lathe and other equipment from an ex-military glassblower and began production of Grav Labs’ first water pipes.
Over a decade later, Grav Labs now brings in $6.5 million annually and is one of the most prominent names in the high quality glass industry. David and his company attribute their success to their core values, one of which being the Necessity of Evolution. From the days of sawing off McCormick bottles to make gravity bongs to using old military hardware to make water pipes, evolving isn’t something David and Grav Labs have shied away from.
One of Grav Labs’ recent innovations are their Helix Chambers, which are cone-shaped glass pieces that range from being bubbler mouthpieces to standalone hand pipes. They’re designed to be both comfortable for the mouth and also to cause your smoke to move in a swirling motion. Another is the upline percolator (used most prominently in their 38MM Upline Water Pipe). Aside from its unique look - which resembles a permanent light distortion - the perc segments the pipe which reinforces smoke filtration, acts as a heat sink and limits splashback.
The Grav Labs Family
The creator of the upline perc - Micah Evans - is a prominent member of the Grav glass team, many of whom are spotlighted in Grav’s “Meet The Maker” series on their blog. The series focuses on how each glassblower got into the field, why they work for Grav, and what they plan to do in the future. The blog has spotlights on other team members as well, including a sales rep named Josh who was their Employee of the Month. A focus on employee recognition is one of the ways David Daily and Grav Labs maintains its small business spirit, a spirit that continues to make it one of the most trusted brands in the industry.