We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Crowe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I am a recovering alcoholic and at that time I had only been sober one year. I needed something to fill the void left by my not drinking anymore. I needed to keep busy and wanted something to do where I would use my brain and my body. I talked to my dad and he suggested that I make rope doormats and sell them to make a little extra money. I was working at Walmart as a cashier and wasn’t making a lot of money so I thought that would be great. He had an old knitting machine in his garage and he told me he would give it to me and I would be able to make rope on it to make rope mats. With his help, I was able to get it running and make rope. I had an old video of how to weave rope mats from my 25 years in the rope business. That is how the business started.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started working in a rope mill when I was 7 years old. I worked with my aunt running a rope machine and she paid me out of her pocket. When I graduated from high school, I went to work at Crowe Rope in Warren Me. I was given the hourly rate of $3 an hour and my dad told me if I could do every job in the factory he would give me a raise. I spend the next 20 years learning and doing every job in the entire company except accounting, DP, and maintenance. I could run the machines, drive the forklift and manage every factory he owned. I could make any type of rope, cordage or twine and knew how to make it right. After 15 years in manufacturing I was moved into sales. I was a part of the team that grew to the company from a million dollars in sales to 35 million in sales. The more I learned the more responsibility he gave me. Eventually I was the president and sales manager.
In 1995, he sold the company due to offshore competition and government regulations. We had over 600 people and 12 factories in 8 different locations in Maine at that time. I moved to Texas and got out of the rope business for about 10 years. I was a sales manager at a car dealership. When I got sober in 2008 I switched to furniture and soon became a sales manager for a privately owned furniture store. in 2010, I started making and selling rope mats while still managing a furniture store full time. I did this until 2017 when I gave up the job and devoted all my time to the mat business.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Texas offers just about anything you want to do. It is a huge state. There is the coast where there are beaches, restaurants, clubs, resorts and lots of fishing. You can relax on the beach or go out on the town. There is lots of casual dining with all the native and many other types of food. There are also very high end restaurants serving up whatever it is you like to eat. You can go bay fishing, deep sea fishing for the day or overnight. You have hill country where there are many small towns with lots of Texas heritage and history. You can stay at a B&B or at a hotel probably owned by a local person from there. They have lots of lakes, swimming, tubing, water skiing, fishing and dining too. There are festivals (where I sometimes sell my rope mats) and outlets malls for whatever your taste. It is very nice country with something for everyone. The people are where the word southern hospitality comes from. So to come here for a vacation there is no shortage of whatever it is you like to do. It can be very affordable or you can get all the 5 star attention you need.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Dad deserves all the credit. He gave me the idea. He gave me the machine to start the business. He supported what I was doing with my life. He helped me every day with knowledge and moral support. He lived in Maine and didn’t come to Texas we did it all over the phone and the internet. Without his help I would not have been successful. My back ground is not mechanical. The oldest machine I have is 50 years old and it used to break a lot. No matter what broke he would tell me how to fix it. Where to get parts that he couldn’t make himself and how to keep going. When I was discouraged he would always tell me to keep on plugging and you will get there. November 2019 he passed suddenly at the age of 87. I miss him every day. Fortunately I have learned enough to get by and the business has grown enough so that I was able to purchase some newer machines which don’t require as much maintenance. May he rest in peace knowing that he taught me everything I needed to know in my life to survive and prosper.