CLAS­SIC ROPE Ken Bray of

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Competitive Edge -

Aborn and raised team roper, Ken Bray was work­ing as a bank loan of­fi­cer in 1987. When one of his cus­tomers, a CPA named Ted Tomer­lin, asked him if wanted to be a part of a new rope-mak­ing busi­ness with Der­wood Miller and his nephew, Curt Matthews, Bray didn’t blink at the op­por­tu­nity to trade in his nine-to-five for a ca­reer in the West­ern in­dus­try.

“I learned a lot at the bank, and I wouldn’t trade for the time I spent there,” Bray ex­plained, “but the suit-and-tie en­vi­ron­ment was not my style.”

And so be­gan a long and fruit­ful ca­reer with Clas­sic Rope, which was es­tab­lished a year ear­lier, in 1986. Bray was there through Matthews’ ten­ure as he rev­o­lu­tion­ized the sport of team rop­ing with the first poly-ny­lon blend—Clas­sic’s Money Maker—which set the tone for Clas­sic’s fu­ture as game chang­ers in the rope in­dus­try.

“Af­ter the Money Maker,” Bray said, “the busi­ness grew quickly, and we added more poly blends to our prod­uct of­fer­ing as we be­gan to test new fibers and blends.”

When Miller and Matthews sold the busi­ness to West Vir­ginia team rop­ers Rick Bar­ton and Mike Hall in 1992, Bray be­came a part­ner in the ven­ture—a po­si­tion he main­tains to­day, as CEO of Equibrand, Clas­sic’s par­ent name since 1994, which also en­com­passes its other brands, like Clas­sic Equine.

In the past 30-plus years, the com­pany has seized end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties to not only ad­vance the tech­nol­ogy be­hind each rope, but also to rev­o­lu­tion­ize and en­hance the very way the rope mar­ket op­er­ates, as well as in­vest in and pro­mote the sport of team rop­ing and its com­mu­nity when­ever pos­si­ble.

“It has been a blast to see the dra­matic and pos­i­tive changes to the sport over the past 30 years,” Bray said.

To name each feat and in­no­va­tion would be a her­culean task, but their ca­pac­ity since 1997 to cre­ate their own string is wor­thy of note.

“Our abil­ity to con­trol the fiber that goes into the ropes has helped us stay on top and re­main the in­dus­try leader,” Bray posited, tak­ing a mo­ment to rec­og­nize the lead­er­ship in the rope divi­sion that al­lows for Clas­sic’s on­go­ing suc­cess. “Craig Bray (Op­er­a­tions Man­ager and Ken’s brother), Ge­orge Mc­Quain (Rope Pro­duc­tion Man­ager), and Dal­las Clay (Fiber Pro­duc­tion Man­ager) are the key lead­ers in pro­duc­tion at Clas­sic. And, we have peo­ple that have been with the com­pany their en­tire adult life—some for 30 years. We’re a team of peo­ple ac­tively in­volved in the sport and in the horse in­dus­try.

“We made a vow,” Bray con­tin­ued, “that ev­ery new rope we in­tro­duce would be uniquely dif­fer­ent from the oth­ers, and it would be one that solved a prob­lem or fit a spe­cific need for feel and rop­ing style.”

It’s a vow Bray and the Clas­sic team in­tend to keep. “We built our busi­ness by tak­ing care of our cus­tomers, our peo­ple, and our brands, while be­ing in­no­va­tive and ded­i­cated to new prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and de­sign,” Bray re­marked. “Mov­ing for­ward, our cus­tomers can ex­pect us to con­tinue to in­no­vate and pursue new and bet­ter ways to im­prove rope qual­ity, feel, and per­for­mance that helps rop­ers com­pete to their great­est po­ten­tial.”

THE MEN AND WOMEN BE­HIND CLAS­SIC ROPES, UN­DER THE LEAD­ER­SHIP OF KEN BRAY, CRAIG BRAY, DAL­LAS CLAY, AND GE­ORGE MC­QUAIN.

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