Last September, an alert notified those in his LinkedIn network that Ron Bryant, Samson’s plant manager in Lafayette, Louisiana is celebrating a work anniversary—50 years. Ron is considered the unofficial company historian at Samson—with good reason: he’s spent the last five decades working in the industry.
Starting the year he graduated from high school in St. Louis, Missouri, Ron got an entry level job at the St. Louis Cordage Mills, a division of the American Manufacturing Company, Inc. (AMCO). He started as an “office boy”—wrapping packages, making deliveries, and picking up lunches. It wasn’t long before he was moving into jobs with more responsibility. Inventory control was the first step.
His value to the company was soon recognized and when an opening for the assistant to the plant manager came up, Ron was offered the position along with company-paid tuition to further his education. It was about this time that he met his wife Sharon, also an employee at the St. Louis plant. Ron jokes that Samson has given him great jobs, a nice series of embroidered shirts, an education, and a wonderful wife.
MOVED IN WITH THE EQUIPMENT…AND STAYED
In 1976, the St. Louis facility was moved to Lafayette. Ron says he traveled right along with the machinery to be one of three employees to make the move. By now the plant was fully dedicated to synthetic fiber ropes. They extruded some of their own fiber and had developed the copolymer extrusion process in-house. The merging of Samson Rope Technologies with AMCO in the early 90s brought together two of the powerhouses of US cordage manufacturing—with a commitment to research and development that is second to none in the industry.
OVER THE LAST 50 YEARS, RON HAS SEEN ENORMOUS CHANGES IN THE CORDAGE INDUSTRY
Today, Samson’s Lafayette manufacturing plant boasts one of the largest 12-strand braiders in the world. Using high-performance, ultra-high modulus fibers like HMPE, Samson produces ropes that outperform steel-wire ropes on all levels. They’re stronger, lighter, safer to handle and last longer than the steel-wire ropes they replace. It is an incredible leap in performance from the vegetable fiber ropes (manila and sisal) that were the high tech fibers until World War II. Ron points out that without Samson’s commitment to research and development, many of the advancements the industry enjoys today may not exist. The emphasis has gone from bulk rope manufacturer to specialty solutions provider. Ropes are custom engineered to the exacting specifications of some of the world’s most demanding industrial applications.
With more than 50 years behind him, Ron is looking forward to retirement in June. But in classic Ron form, he’s also planning to be available when and if needed on a part-time basis to head up projects that may require a little of his vast experience.
Ron is a trusted and respected member of the Samson team. He’s contributed greatly to the success of the firm and approaches every challenge with what can only be described as a can-do attitude.
“My biggest fear is that people will find out just how much I’ve enjoyed this job. I’m not really working, I just come in and enjoy myself everyday and they pay me for doing it. It’s been a great ride.”
It is people like Ron who have helped Samson create “The Samson Advantage.” That advantage is the embodiment of the hard work and commitment to quality products and superior service that Ron and the team he’s helped to mentor bring to the plant everyday. Thanks, Ron