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Loui McCurley CEO Pigeon Mountain Industries, rope manufacturing, confidence and lessons from working safely from height

Rope Manufacturing with Loui McCurley

Rope manufacturing and lesson learned from working safely at height with Loui McCurley, CEO Pigeon Mountain Industries

Coolest company on Earth

  • PMI is a manufacturer of life safety ropes and soft goods, other equipment for work at height
  • We  distribute other gear from people whose products complement our own. So we’re a manufacturer and distributor, as well as an educator.

How Pigeon Mountain Industries started

  • We started down in Georgia, in the heart of what we call “TAG,” Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia. TAG caving area.
  • The founders of our company were all cavers and they wanted a better caving rope to go caving with.

What we do

  • Rope manufacturing; we manufacture a kernmantle rope. Kernmantle is a German term and it means core and sheath. So the “kern” is the core, the “mantle” is the sheath.
  • Depending on how much twist or what you do to the design on the inside of the rope, you can really control, you can really engineer exactly how much elongation you want to happen and at what force and at what range.

How in the world did you get involved with a rope company?

  • Well, I fell off a cliff. Isn’t that how everybody gets involved?
  • I fell about 40 feet off a cliff and I lived to tell about it.  But it wasn’t then until a few years later that I actually joined a local mountain rescue team.
  • Falling off the cliff brought my awareness to the fact that I was lucky to be alive and that I was really stupid about what I’ve done. I needed more information. I needed more knowledge.
  • I was just  out for a hike and I decided to split off from the rest of my group and take a shortcut back to the car. And, you know, I beat them back to the car.

Having a little bit of fear is not necessarily a bad thing

  • A healthy fear is what keeps you alive.
  • Understand how that equipment works and how that equipment is used.
  • Know what you’re capable of, you know what your limitations are, you know what the limitations of your gear is.

Traveling  around the world, stopping at different rescue organizations along the way, lessons learned.

  • I don’t know everything and I don’t know how to do everything, but that’s okay.
  • There’s a lot of right ways to do things. So pay attention, learn from the people around you, and try it.

Sitting on that standards committees for rope manufacturing, why?

  • We need to think about as we’re writing standards. We can’t just write them as a manufacturer.
  • We have to consider the needs of the many users.

The foundations of rope access

  • It’s that ability to not just go down.
  • No, it’s not just rappelling.
  • You can go down. You can go up.
  • You can go cross ways.
  • You can go from one set of ropes to another.

Definitely a growing industry

  • It’s  gaining acceptance by NC and OSHA and regulatory bodies.
  • The safety record of these guys that work this way is stellar. It’s outstanding
  • You can access points in stadiums that nobody’s ever touched before. You can inspect the undersides of bridges.
  • High tension towers that you need repairs
  • Wind turbines

Transformation you see from the person pre-course(PMI), and the person that comes in here after they’ve graduated? What do you see?

  • By the end of the week, to be able to ascend rope, traverse over to another rope, turn backwards and upside-down and get across a horizontal traverse
  • All the things that they can do on rope, never touching the ground, and that the sense of security that people gain in that.  People just walk through the door and say, “I am afraid of heights. I don’t know how this is gonna go.”
  • Then they got enrolled, and they learn to trust their gear, and they learn to trust their knowledge.” That’s, like, “Wow. I still am not all that fond of heights, but you know what? I’m secure. I’m confident.”

Parting advice

  • Life is a life-changing event, isn’t it? I mean, there’s nothing about life that is predictable, or constant, or safe, really. And for me, it’s faith. Faith is my lifeline. That’s the rope that I hold onto, and I don’t understand how anybody who doesn’t some foundation of faith gets through life. I think that understanding and believing in a higher power, and understanding and believing that it’s not just all about us, sorry, it’s not just all about us. Life is bigger than any one of us.
  • When we think about what we do and how we approach what we do, it’s so critical, I think, to remember that there are other people out there and everybody’s got a story, and everybody has a challenge. The more that we can do to pick each other up and help each other out, the better all off we’re all gonna be in the long run.



phone number is 1-800-282-rope

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