Gradient Paragliders was established in 1997 by some paragliding enthusiasts in the Czech Republic, which is in central Europe. These people loved the great flying available in their country, a mountainous land of great natural beauty. As is common all round the world, they all enjoyed the company of other keen paraglider pilots. To this day, the team at Gradient say that these basic motivations still energize the company.
As with many other top companies, safety and handling is favored over raw performance, even in the higher performing wings. Most pilots like it like that, and of course it's the great numbers of average, non-competitive pilots that drive the bulk of the company's sales. I reckon a paraglider manufacturer that just produced competition wings would not be able to sell enough of them to survive!
Gradient Paragliders is actually one of the largest paraglider manufacturers in the world. They currently employ about 20 people in sales, administration, the design team and on the factory floor. Over the years they have gained a reputation, world-wide, for designing and building very good paragliders of good value. If that wasn't the case, you wouldn't find the Gradient name scattered through so many web pages.
Here's another aspect to the company, which seems to be common to all the top manufacturers. They support major competitions, and get real benefits from doing that which offset the considerable costs. Competitions bring the top manufacturers close together where they can observe things about each others' products. Things that aren't obvious from a sheet of performance specs or general information.
Gradient Paragliders are an official sponsor of the Paragliding World Cup and a few other top paragliding events inside the Czech Republic and around the world. Not surprisingly, with the quality pilots they attract, Gradient paragliders are often found in the top results of these competitions. They like to brag about their Gradient Avax RSE competition wing. And why not, it currently is up there, sales-wise, with the best-selling performance canopies in the world.
Did I mention that Gradient also helps its customers with great repair and back up service? Well, they do, with a 1 year guarantee. With some common sense ifs and buts of course. For example, they won't repair a club canopy that might have had endless numbers of beginners dragging it around and stepping on the lines. Also, if you have managed to get into a real scrape and your wing is badly torn up, they might decide it would cost too much to repair. That's the case if it would cost more than half the cost of a new paraglider of the same type.
Now let's have a look at the production side of things. All the 'big guns' in paragliding are similar. They all, Gradient included, shop around the globe for materials. It makes sense for them to have a heavy emphasis on quality, since an in-flight failure of some sort would produce the worst possible publicity for the company. The saying 'any publicity is good publicity' definitely does not apply to aircraft manufacturers!
Gradient also employ very up-to-date technologies in the design and manufacturing processes. Although this greatly helps accuracy and consistency, good old-fashioned quality control is still applied at various steps during manufacture. Unlike one or two other well-known manufacturers, this has enabled Gradient to achieve a perfect quality record. That's right, no recalls or official warnings have ever been issued on a Gradient wing. And before delivery to the customer, every new wing gets flown by the factory test pilot.
Finally, Gradient Paragliders assure us that every wing they release for sale has already been certified by at least one of the major testing organizations, DHV, SHV, ACPUL or CEN. A little birdy told me the other day that not all spanking-new paragliders from other manufacturers can claim this!