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Welcome to Hamilton, Ontario: Meet Jim Case, Rigger



There’s so much experience to be found at Hercules SLR – today, we sit down with Associate Rigger Jim Case (he has over 15 years’ experience!) to discuss some cool projects he’s rigged, his path at Hercules SLR and some career tips for new workers starting out.

Read on to learn more about Jim Case, and his job as a Rigger at Hercules SLR in Hamilton, Ontario.

Tell us about your background as a Rigger, Jim: 

I started working in the rigging industry when I was 20 years old. I worked in a rope shop for 5 years and spliced rope. The company I worked for was bought, then switched hands a few times – I ended up making slings which, at the time, were more popular for us than rope.

During my career, I’ve spliced a lot of wire rope for communication towers, steel mills, and have done a lot of work to drive belts. I’ve also had the chance to complete some projects for the US Military, specifically catapult ropes. And, I’ve done a bit of testing here in Hamilton, which is always fun!

Nowadays, it’s easier to find a focus and not move around so much – workers will typically find their niche and grown within that. Examples of these niches could be circus rigging or offshore rigging.

Now, I’m a rigger with Hercules SLR and fabricating synthetic slings – I enjoy work and keeping busy!

Why did you decide to work in this industry?

Well, to be honest – I was 20 and needed a job! I put applications in, and I ended up really liking the industry. I’m doing the same job I was then, but now with Hercules SLR!

I started working in the rigging industry in the late ’70’s – during the early 1980’s, many company owners were streamlining their business and selling off anything that wasn’t related to steel. This means I moved around a little bit!

There’s a joke I always like to make – I’ve been bought and sold so many times, I don’t know if everyone or nobody wanted me! But, I’m very happy to have ended up with Hercules SLR.

What’s something you’re most proud to have accomplished in your career at Hercules SLR?

Honestly, I’m proud of my attendance. I’m a loyal employee, and I never miss work.

Tell us about an exciting or cool project you’ve worked on during your time at Hercules SLR:

One of the coolest projects (that’s pretty notable too!) I worked on was preparing rope to temporarily open the roof of The O Stadium in Montreal, where they held the 1976 Olympics.

The O Stadium’s roof was originally intended to be retractable, but (infamously) a tower meant to support it wasn’t completed in time. This meant they needed a way to temporarily hold it open for the Olympic games, and I got to work on that project.

rigger, olympic stadium ropes, hercules slr
Aerial view of The O Stadium during the 1976 Olympics, with ropes installed by Jim

For the O Stadium roof, we used gelded, 2inch rope and a special lubrication. This took us 2 weeks and we had a 12-guy crew!

On a day-to-day basis, I really enjoy splicing rope. Even though it can be repetitive sometimes, it’s different everyday. Most of the orders take 1-2 hours to finish, so I can work on a few different types of projects throughout the day which is a nice variety.

You’ve worked in the rigging industry for many years – tell us why it’s important to service your equipment and gear:

The main reason? Safety. Over the years, I’ve seen workers take a lot of shortcuts, which can lead to a lot of mistakes. Sometimes, workers can be resistant to change  – which is sometimes why they keep taking these shortcuts that might not be a safe procedure.

For example, I splice differently than some of the riggers in Brampton, but the end-product performs the same function. Some riggers stop splicing the rope on the left, right or vice versa. When you make things according to specified standards, you can sometimes take more liberties – like I said, as long as it performs.

Tell us about a mistake you see made often in the industry:

The biggest mistake has got to be rigging equipment used improperly. When Hercules SLR receives a complaint that a product isn’t working like it’s supposed to, we have to see the equipment being used to remedy any issues they’re having.

In my personal experience, 90% of the time when this happens the equipment isn’t being used correctly – which is why it isn’t working correctly!

What advice do you have for a new rigger, or someone just entering this industry?

A  big piece of advice I have for new workers in any industry really, is to plan your daily schedule at the beginning of your day – this makes it easier to deal with the flow of the day.

For rigging, specifically, do the job right the first time! Earlier, you asked me about mistakes I see in the industry – rigging equipment passes through many different phases. It’s manufactured, used to lift various things and as I mentioned, is often used improperly. When rigging equipment fails, expensive loads can be damaged, companies can be shut down and people can be injured, or worse – killed.

It’s important a rigger understands the consequences of cutting corners – and doesn’t do it.

Any other helpful tips?

To select the right equipment for a lift, a big tip is to talk to someone who knows their stuff, and the end-user – whoever will be using the equipment. In a company, it can be helpful to talk to the sales team to learn more about this.

For example, who will lift the rope? Do they have the capability to lift an 800-pound rope, or a 20-pound rope? They may want to select grommet-type or cradle-rope, which is usually smaller and more flexible. It’s important to make sure whoever’s at the end of the line can handle it.

What’s something people might be surprised to learn about rigging?

Material and fabrication are surprising! People are astounded at the strength of nylon round slings! Sometimes, synthetic slings can be stronger and more flexible than other types of rope, like wire rope. For example, there used to be a rope made of Kevlar rope (this is what bulletproof vests are made of. FYI) that could float, but was heavier than steel – I haven’t seen it used recently, but it was used to pull huge barges.

Finally, what do you like most about being a rigger at Hercules SLR?

Our team. We have a great group of people here in Hamilton, Ontario. We’re like friends, but we actually get stuff done.