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DMM – a tradition over everything else!

/ Mountain Gear

There is a place in Europe where there are more sheep than people and time is ticking away much more slowly than in my country. In the kingdom of Wales, in its north-west part Snowdonia - one of the most beautiful areas, a unique national park visited by few million tourists every year – is situated.

Not many people know that in this charming region there is one of the fewer and fewer nowadays factories of climbing equipment. It’s DMM – located in Llanberies, a leader of world production of climbing equipment. For its status the company has been working on for the last 36 years. Not much, you might say, there are some companies that have existed for over 100 years. But the Welsh had no complex and surely that’s why it was possible for them to create a powerful, international company.

DMM
DMM
DMM
The establishing of DMM happened in 1981 because of Fred Hall, Paul Simkiss and Richard Cuthbertson’s decision. The last-mentioned man remains the director of the DMM group until today. At first, the company employed only 4 workers, today there are almost 200 employees! Their motto is: quality, precision and teamwork.

Thanks to kindness of DMM and Camper, which is a distributor of DMM in Poland I, together with representatives of the shops selling DMM products in Poland had a chance to see Snowdonia and visit the factory of DMM.

Some special people walked us through the backstage of the factory.

DMM

Chris Rowlands – a sales manager, who is responsible for trading with foreign markets. Chris has had the longest practice in DMM, he has been working there for 24 years and throughout these years he has come all the way from a manual worker to a manager. Chris has also been climbing for 40 years, he is a father of 3 sons and a fan of running. And, obviously, he keeps his sheep!

Chris is extremely kind, he took care of me at the airport and supported all the remaining time. It was his goal to provide us with all necessary information and impressions of a nice stay.

Chris took us to a DMM’s factory to show us a typical day of work, the background and the process of producing climbing carabiners.

DMM

DMM
DMM
DMM
You might think that the production of carabiners is not connected to great concentration and a special attitude. You couldn’t be more wrong. During my visit to DMM’s factory I could observe how complicated the production is.

Beginning with choosing a proper material, through the treatment, shaping, toughening, polishing, anodisation to the process of putting it together. We could try ourselves to go through all these steps. It turned out to be really difficult to match the clasp with the body of the carabiner because every move , every detail demanded special attention. But it’s all about the safety of a user. Every carabiner travels to the quality control point where it is tested thoroughly, and where every fault disqualifies the carabiner from being distributed. 

DMM

Ben Slack – a sales manager responsible for selling for Germany, Austria, France and Benelux countries. Ben has been with DMM for almost 10 years (he is a former teacher) and has been climbing since he can recall. But he is also a keen surfer, but most of all a fan of everything connected to climbing.

DMM

DMM

DMM

DMM

DMM

Ben showed us around the factory telling us about its history and the changes it has been going under. We got to know how different parts of the factory work but we could also see all popular climbing points in the region thanks to Ben and Chris who showed us these places. Snowdonia is famous for slate – people there are proud of this material, all houses in Snowdonia are covered in slate roof tiles and many of the souvenirs, as well as, everyday use products are made of it .  

DMM

DMM

The participants of the visit had a great occasion to climb in Llanberis Pass (the region of bouldering) and a climbing area called Bus Stop. Undoubtedly, the name has its etymology in the name of the last stop at the end of the road. From this place buses only turn back.    

DMM

Rob Wilson – a sales director who came back to the company after some time of running his own climbing shop and working in off-shores. Rob has IRATA eligibility on L3 level.

Together with Chris, Ben and Rob we met at a conference room where the guys presented us products that are supposed to be put into market. Not only did they tell us about typical products but also about the prototypes which can be revolutionary for climbing equipment. We also heard about arboriculture (a professional cultivation of trees).

DMM

I would like to direct my special thanks to a Polish distributor of DMM – Camper company. It’s thanks to their invitation I had an opportunity to see, comprehend and share everything I saw during my stay in Wales. Such trip is a gift to anyone interested in climbing, as well as for anyone willing to get to know the ins and outs of the production process in a factory of such type. DMM is definitely a company that will not move their factory to Asia because it’s a question of their philosophy and lifestyle. They prefer to develop in Wales, employ the locals and not get out of their own, extraordinary and beautiful country.

Text and photos
Bartek Andrzejewski

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