Approaching fifty successful years in business, the Alps Wire Rope Corporation remains firmly committed tomeeting the needs of customers across a range of sectors. The company serves customers from the oil and gas industries to elevator manufacturers, the construction industry, marine, mining and the United States government and military.
Alps Wire Rope offers wire rope products and a range of hardware, chain and stainless steel and galvanized fittings sourced from quality manufacturers across the world.
The Alps Wire Rope Corporation traces its history back to 1968, when it started out as the U.S. distribution arm of Japan-based Tokyo Ropes. Rebranded for marketing purposes, with the name Alps signifying ‘All-Purpose Ropes’, the company remains firmly committed to the wire rope industry, professional service and providing high-quality products to customers at reasonable prices.
A significant part of the company’s strength comes from its diversification. Alps Wire Rope specializes in wire ropes for cranes, yacht rigging strands, structural strands, drill, sand and measuring lines and commercial and control cable grade GALV cable and strand for major industrial distributors and wire rope fabricators across the North America and the Caribbean.
It works with select mills in locations such as Korea and Malaysia to supply products. “If customers have a specific requirement, or a request for rope to perform in a certain manner or meet certain criteria, we will work with the mills to develop those prototype pieces for testing, approval and bring them into production,” says Brad Benner. President of Alps for the past six years, Benner has been with the full sales and service distribution firm since 1991.
The majority of Alps Wire Rope’s products are sold to distributors. In business for the past forty-seven years, the company has gained an unparalleled knowledge of not only the products it sources and sells, but their many purposes in mining, cranes and construction, the elevator industry, oil and gas, industrial, architectural rigging on smaller bridges and even safety lanyards.
Alps continues to grow and provide “The Pinnacle of Quality” in all its products. The company moved to larger facilities of 40,000 square feet in St. Charles, Illinois three years ago. It also has warehouses in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (28,000 square feet), along with a 23,000 square foot facility in the Los Angeles area in Alhambra, California and another 25,000 square foot location in Houston, all carefully selected as key distribution points. One of the reasons for the company’s move to Houston two years ago was to get closer to the offshore oil and gas market to better serve the needs of that sector.
Ropes are made to specifications governed by groups such as the international standards organization American Society for Testing and Materials and the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers). ASME is one of the oldest standards-developing organizations in the United States and is responsible for the development of about 600 codes and standards.
Alps Wire Rope often works with its distributors and customers to ensure they receive products that meet the specific needs of their industries. Certain applications, such as salt water, may require a different type of wire rope from freshwater or the nuclear industry, which require stainless steel wire rope products that resist corrosion. Realizing that all rope eventually wears out after years of use, the company has a portion of its business dedicated to aftermarket service.
The privately-held company supplies all customers by carrying an extensive inventory with a value exceeding $14,000,000. “We have ropes in stock to meet the requirements for different applications,” says Benner. With products both made to order and warehoused, the company is guaranteed to have ropes in stock for specific needs.
“After you determine what the strength of rope is that you require to do a job, you have to select the construction that has the characteristics to perform the function.” Depending on its application, ropes can be constructed in a variety of ways, with strands added and various diameter options to create a full array of possibilities.
The company’s selection includes wire rope for applications including general purpose, compacted and specialty, such as the range of wire ropes for the gas and oilfield sector. Products are available in both imperial and metric sizes, ranging from .024 inches (5 mm) all the way through to 3 ½ inches (75 mm).
For clients in the elevator and hardware industries, the company offers a range of hoist, compensation and governor ropes, in a variety of sizes and strengths along with elevator hardware and accessories in both galvanized and stainless steel. It also carries a range of cutting tools, sheave gauges, swage fittings, splicing kits, Canlon conveyor accessories, measuring lines, chains, hoists and much more.
The company has such fabrication services as the construcion of wire rope assemblies, cutting to length or floor measures, pre-stretching, proof-loading, customized lubrication or wiping and small-diameter cable swaging. The company often works with engineers and customers to make presentations to its distributors’ customers, so they can then explain the product and its uses in the best way possible.
The company is a proud member of a number of organizations, including Associated Wire Rope Fabricators (AWRF), the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC), the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC), the Association of Emergency Service Companies (AESC) and the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SC&RA).
With machinery and storage capabilities to handle extremely large reels of steel wire, Alps also works with distributors which have specialized capabilities within certain markets – such as oil and gas or elevators – and who have extremely large capacity handling equipment and shipping abilities.
When it comes to the manufacturing of steel rope itself, the capabilities are practically limitless. In theory, a rope can be of virtually any length, yet, in practice, this serves no genuine purpose. An extremely long rope will pull itself apart at some point. In the oilfield market, it is not uncommon to have ropes of 25,000 to 40,000 feet in length, with the longest coming in at 16,500 feet – over three miles. Ropes are kept on reels; rope lengths that exceed 10,000 pounds go onto steel reels, with anything weighing less stored on wooden reels.
Although the company doesn’t sell worldwide, the United States remains a massive international market others wish to sell to, and, as a result, many European and Asian equipment manufacturers sell into the U.S. Alps sources many products manufactured by world-class mills around the globe.
The Alps Wire Rope Corporation is looking to develop some areas of the company, including mining. Recently, its president went to a major wire rope manufacturing facility in Malaysia which is manufacturing mining cables for open pit and deep shaft mines and spoke to the company about its capabilities and business opportunities in mining.
“That is a marketing segment we are hoping to develop,” he says, “along with a greater portion of the oil and gas sector. We are also looking at the possibility of getting more involved with domestic-made product and what it would take to get that done. That is the direction we are hoping to head. For Alps, being diversified creates for a little more of a complicated selling process, but a much better business model than being in just one market segment.”
“We are not engineers, but we are experts in the understanding of wire rope, and we are able to advise people on what options are available,” says Benner. The business is much more than providing steel rope, it is providing decades of experience.