An Inside Look at PMI Rope

Amy LavinHigh Rise Safety, Industry

I recently had the opportunity to visit the PMI headquarters in Georgia. I got a tour of their factory from the man himself, President and Founder Steve Hudson.

abc has been a PMI dealer since 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 their Denver location, where they do training and sales. But, I’ve never had the opportunity 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, Pigeon Mountain IndustriesPMI 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 fascinating 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 that 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 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 the new Spider-Man movie. As you walk through the aisle, you are immediately surrounded on both sides and above by small threads.

PMI Visit Image 2Finally, we walked upstairs to where the rope machines are. For me, this was the most exciting part. It’s been a goal of mine to see how rope is made in person.

PMI Visit Image 3The main thing I learned about rope making is that it’s very loud! A dozen or so machines were 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 faster than 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 the completed 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 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.

If you want to check out some PMI gear, head over to our website:

Update: Steve Hudson passed away in December 2013. I’m grateful to have had the chance to meet him.