WARREN — Some cowboys spin yarns. Weekend rodeo cowboy Greg Bennett, of Warren, weaves nylon-polyester strands into rope.
The 41-year-old federal government worker dreams of one day having his own rope-manufacturing business. But for now, he is content to work from his barn, under the business name of Extreme Western, selling his Cross Fire brand ropes by word of mouth and in five stores that carry his product.
Two of those stores are in South Dakota, the other three in Utah, with the closest to the Ogden area being Smith and Edwards at 3936 State Road 126.
With the help of his wife, Teri, and a 1996 rope-spinning machine, Bennett estimates he will manufacture about 1,000 ropes this year.
To make just one standard 25- to 30-foot rope, Bennett said, it takes about 15 minutes to weave the material and two days to complete the process, in which the rope has to be cooked in hot wax and dried before use.
The difficulty lies in spinning the ropes, Bennett said. That process can be “very tedious.”
“I’ve been making (ropes) since 2004,” said Bennett, who used to work for Royal Ropes, a company that specializes in equine accessories. “That is where I learned how to do it.”
But crafting ropes takes nearly as much time as it does talent.
“There are so many steps to each rope,” his wife said.
And in doing hundreds of them, she said, her husband has no down time for television — ever.
Teri Bennett said ropes, somewhere in the process of being completed, are in nearly every room of their home.
“It honestly started out as a way to save money for (Greg). It just got kind of evolved,” Teri Bennett said of their business, which is now only limited by barn space.
Besides, rope making is a job Greg Bennett takes seriously, because as a longtime weekend rodeo cowboy he has relied on rope to compete in team steer-roping events.
Because the older model rope-spinning machine prevents him from making ropes longer than the standard 25-foot to 30-foot length, Greg Bennett said he uses other ropes when competing.
Most ranch-hand and rodeo cowboys use ropes 35-feet to 50-feet in length, Greg Bennett said.
He will serve as a judge at the Utah High School Rodeo Finals, scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday in Heber City, he said.
As part of the event, a rodeo for children with special needs will be held Friday.
Bennett said he will be donating 50 of his kid ropes to the event in trade for booth space.
Wanting to give back to the sport comes instinctively to Bennett. He said his dad was a cowboy.
“The family raised horses when he was growing up (in West Point). They roped a little bit, too,” he said.
Those family ties have Bennett and his wife, who also competed in high school rodeo, using many of their weekends to travel from one rodeo to another.
“It’s a family affair with us. (Greg) doesn’t like to travel without us,” Teri Bennett said.
However, this year their summer rodeo circuit schedule will be scaled way back, because the Bennetts’ daughters have an interest in other sports — particularly softball.
“I’m taking a year off (from competitive rodeo) because my kids are playing so much softball,” Bennett said.
He will, however, miss competing.
“I started at age 16. I have always been good at it.”
He made the Wilderness Circuit Finals 20 times, the Dodge National Circuit three times, and captured the top prize at the Bob Feist Invitational Rodeo held yearly in Reno.
The rigors of rope making
The step-by-step process involved in making a single, standard-length rope, 25 feet to 30 feet long, is a time-consuming one.
Listed below is the process Greg Bennett, of Warren, uses to make a rope.
1. Take strands of nylon-polyester material (more strands produce a thicker rope), and weave them, using a spinning machine, into a rope.
2. Cook the rope in hot wax and let dry for two days.
3. Stretch the rope.
4. Tie knots into the rope.
5. Sew a rawhide burner onto the end of the rope. The rawhide burner, which takes about 20 seconds to add, extends the life of the rope by preventing it from fraying over time.
6. Coil the rope, holding it in position with ties.
7. Package the rope in a box, which holds its shape.
8. Market the rope for sale.
Source: Greg Bennett, rope manufacturer and owner of Extreme Western.