I recently had the opportunity to visit PMI head quarters in Georgia. I got a tour of their factory from the man himself, President and Founder Steve Hudson.
Rope and Rescue has been a PMI dealer since starting in 2005. In that time we’ve sold tons of their rope and other gear. I’ve also spent a lot of time with them at the their Denver location where they do training and sales. But, I’ve never gotten to see where the magic actually happens.
Going to see the factory was a dream come true for a gear nerd like me. They make rope from scratch… How cool is that?
PMI is a relatively small facility. Little more than a large house, it’s unassuming for one of the world’s largest rope manufacturers. Steve explained that it started as just a few rooms, and they’ve had to expand several times. In fact, they are now bursting from the seams and may need to find more land since they’ve built as much as they can on their lot.
Steve took me through rooms full of stock and into their shipping department. He said that it was a slow day, though they seemed quite busy and already had several carts full of outgoing packages. Clearly PMI is doing something right!
Next to that was the kit building station. That’s where the Tower Tek kit, haul kit, and other kits are assembled. Having sold quite a few of PMI’s kits, it was interesting to see where they all get put together.
We walked a bit further and ended up in the raw materials area. Everywhere I looked were pallets full of spools of yarn. This is the yarn which will eventually become rope. In this area we found a large machine which Steve explained to be a tensile tester. It was capable of pull-testing up to 40,000 lbs!
Steve led me to a room where the yarn is woven together into thicker strands. These thicker strands are woven onto bobbins, which will be used on the rope machines to make the final product. This room felt a lot like the spider room that Peter Parker goes into in the new Spider Man movie. As you walk through the isle, you are immediately surrounded on both sides and above by small threads.
Finally, we walked up stairs to where the rope machines are. For me, this was definitely the most exciting part. It’s been a goal of mine ever since starting Rope and Rescue to see how rope is made in person
The main thing I learned about rope making is that it’s very loud! There were a dozen or so machines operating, each making about one meter of rope per minute. The core was pulled up the middle, while the bobbins spun around the outside. They all rested on circular gear with notches in them that spun too fast for the eye to see. These gears were handing the bobbins off to each other, making the bobbins alternate around each other. At the bottom of the machine was a bunch of individual bobbins. At the top was complete rope. Watching the transformation happen right before my eyes was incredible.
I’ve always been proud to carry PMI products, but seeing things in person gave me a deeper appreciation for what goes into the equipment. This post just barely touches on the intricacies involved.
Thanks to Steve Hudson and PMI for their hospitality! I’m looking forward to growing with PMI in the coming years.
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