December 15, 2015 mountainproductions

An Inside Look at Columbus McKinnon’s Virginia Facility

Located in a small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Columbus McKinnon stands as one of the industrial landmarks in Damascus (well known as a “Trail Town” to oudoors enthusiasts and the Appalachian Trail community). When I was given the chance to visit the plant and work with CM’s team for a few days, I jumped on the opportunity. Mountain Productions is one of CM’s largest distributors and has maintained a long-lasting relationship with the manufacturing powerhouse. During my brief visit, I started to see what makes Columbus McKinnon stand out from its competition, and why Mountain Productions has stood by CM and its products for years.

Outside CM's Virginia facility, located in Damascus, VA

Outside CM’s Virginia facility, located in Damascus, VA

A long stretch on the interstate from PA and a short drive on windy, country roads brings you to Columbus McKinnon’s Virginia facility. From the outside, the building is a modern touch amidst Damascus’s traditional, outdoor feel, and inside, the plant is a truly impressive display of teamwork, technology, and manufacturing. CM’s VA plant covers everything from assembly, manufacturing, R&D, heat treatment, design, shipping, and much more. The amount of machinery and projects running simultaneously is enough to make your head spin. But although CM has managed to use practically every square foot of their facility, the plant runs like a well-oiled machine.


CNC vertical machining center – used to machine castings and hoist frame components


CNC Bar fed turning and milling machine for shafts and pinions

“Whatever you guys need—photographs, information, etc., we’re more than willing to help.” Kelly Fox, Columbus McKinnon Lean Manager, spoke on behalf of the entire plant upon us walking through their doors. While making our way through the plant, there was always a smiling face or waving hand ready to assist us in any way. Safety is also a huge aspect of CM’s facility—their safety protocols were always in practice and not only encouraged, but mandated. The company-wide culture of providing the best service is what truly makes CM stand out from their competition.

Understanding their customer base, creating products that truly answer customer needs, and providing top-notch service are some of the things that CM does best. Their attention to the industry’s demands transfers directly to their expertly designed products. Everything is researched, tested, & drafted to perfection. People who have never had the pleasure of meeting the hardworking folks at CM can still grasp this company culture through the quality products they receive.


CM’s hoist assembly cell


A sub-assembly cell for suspensions


Overhead view of just a portion of CM’s assembly area

Walking through CM’s Virginia facility, I saw just what it takes to create the reliable products that millions of people have trusted in, but that wasn’t what stood out the most. The thing that impressed me above all else was the teamwork and positive culture CM lives by as a company, and from my brief visit, I was able to see why Mountain Productions and Columbus McKinnon have maintained such a strong relationship. I would dare you to find a harder working bunch of committed employees than CM’s team of professionals. There’s a reason why the Lodestar and countless other CM products are revered in the industry. Simply put, they were built by the best.

We’d like to extend a huge thanks to Lance Lacombe, Dave Carmack, and the entire Columbus McKinnon team for their hospitality and assistance. Visit us at to see the CM products that we offer online.

This article was written by Jon Pierotti, Marketing & Graphics for Mountain Productions, Inc.

Share Button