Barry Berg of CAC­TUS ROPES

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Competitive Edge -

When Barry Berg was hired on at Cac­tus in 1992— about a year af­ter the com­pany was es­tab­lished—ex­pe­ri­ence with ropes was not his claim to fame.

“I’ll tell you, there’s never been one per­son with one day of rope ex­pe­ri­ence out­side of Cac­tus Ropes,” Berg re­galed.

It’s a dif­fer­ent story these days, but in the begin­ning, it was rough go­ing for Cac­tus—a 1991 start-up cour­tesy of famed South Texas roper and NFR-qual­i­fier “Cac­tus Jack” Stephen­son, with his cousin, Joe Mathews, and another part­ner, Mike Pi­land. Ac­cord­ing to Berg, since Clas­sic was only five years old at the time, and was re­ally the only “big” com­pany in the mar­ket, Stephen­son and crew fig­ured, why not.

“They had no idea the com­plex is­sue of rope mak­ing when they de­cided to jump on board,” Berg said of the ranchraised en­trepreneurs.

In that sense, Berg—who’d stud­ied ranch man­age­ment and had a then-life­time of feed­lot ex­pe­ri­ence, but no ex­pe­ri­ence build­ing ropes—was a per­fect fit.

“My first job when I came to Cac­tus that day,” Berg re­mem­bered, “they had 900 ropes sent back and the then-gen­eral-man­ager said, go through all of those boxes and see if there’s any good ones.” Out of 900, Berg couldn’t find one. The course of Cac­tus Ropes his­tory changed in a lit­tle-known tale that falls squarely on the shoul­ders of the cow­boy code and its rule that a man’s word should never be bro­ken. On a day when Stephen­son’s son and 1984 NFR rop­ing part­ner, Jacky, of­fered some rop­ing tips to Clas­sic’s then-owner, Rick Bar­ton, he was of­fered payment for his time. In­stead, Jacky asked Bar­ton for a les­son in coil­ing. Bar­ton hon­ored the re­quest, and sent Craig Bray to teach Berg and Jacky’s brother, Robb, how to coil 10 ropes.

“That’s the hon­est truth,” Berg mar­veled. “From that point we de­vel­oped our own style and our own ideas. But I’ll say to this day, Craig Bray hon­ored what the owner said do and he gave his best ef­fort. That was the mo­ment that we could un­der­stand the top and bot­tom, ba­si­cally, of the loop.”

Some 25 years later, Berg is the gen­eral man­ager, and he’s cer­tain Robb has now coiled more than a mil­lion ropes in his on­go­ing ca­reer at Cac­tus. And, each in­di­vid­ual rope man­u­fac­tured by Cac­tus is a great source of pride. Not just for Berg, but for the team.

“You think back to how much pride goes into each rope,” he said. “There’s not a gauge like in the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try that says tighten the nut this much. It’s how much pride you put into hit­ting the spot, and the eyes of the in­di­vid­ual ropes com­ing off the ma­chine, and the coil­ing. Ev­ery sin­gle thing. It’s an in­cred­i­ble team we have that stays with us for 15 years, on av­er­age.”

Look­ing for­ward, Berg ex­udes sin­cere con­fi­dence in his team that has spent the past many years suc­cess­fully meet­ing the de­mands of the mar­ket. The core-rope patent has, in­deed, of­fered a change-up, and it is one that Cac­tus wel­comes, not only be­cause they now get to par­take in the core-rope mar­ket, but be­cause it has al­lowed them the time to seek new op­por­tu­ni­ties and cre­ate, in ad­di­tion to their own core ropes—the Thrilla and the Swag­ger—what Berg be­lieves will be “the next in­cred­i­ble ropes in the in­dus­try.”

BARRY BERG, GEN­ERAL MAN­AGER OF CAC­TUS ROPES, AT THE READY.

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