Back in 1973, Ben Lyon was a keen caver and was already making flexible caving ladders and tackle bags. In the same year, Ben, with good friend and fellow caver, Mike Meredith, met speleologist Fernand Petzl in France, who in a similar way was making gear for cavers in his three-man workshop. In 1974 “Lyon” became the first overseas Petzl distributer little realising that half a century later his tiny enterprise would develop into the present-day Lyon Equipment Limited.
Today, Lyon Equipment is the UK’s leading specialist outdoor gear distributor and training provider in the work and rescue sectors, with offices, manufacturing and warehousing all based in Cumbria. Its distribution division built its reputation working with many of the world’s leading outdoor brands, while its Work and Rescue division provides equipment, training and certification for people working at height; Lyon Equipment is a founding member of IRATA (the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association). Employing over 90 people, the company operates from a purpose built, state-of-the-art facility at Tebay, close to the M6.
As a manufacturer, Lyon Equipment offers sewn and hardware products for a diverse range of industries, all designed, prototyped and produced in-house. Their sewing team makes fall protection and rescue equipment such as gear bags, rope protectors and slings, while their metal working team are kept busy building flexible ladders, strops and rescue stretchers for diverse needs in the theatre industry, renewables and adventure parks, all for customers worldwide.
In recent years Lyon Equipment has also successfully branched into the cycle and watersports markets, supplying a wide range of products from high-quality brands to retailers.
Perhaps less well known is Lyon Equipment’s contribution to mountain rescue; having been involved in designing the stretcher most used by Mountain Rescue Teams, the company still manufactures and services this essential equipment.
Most recently in 2022, Lyon Equipment enhanced its employee-owned status by vesting ownership of the company into an Employee Ownership Trust, ensuring its continued independence.
Many Lyon Equipment staff are keen outdoor enthusiasts – climbers, cavers, bikers, runners – and several are leading members of Mountain Rescue and Cave Rescue teams. As a result, the advice and the training the company provides is best in class and its customers, whether retailers, police services, military, fire and rescue, or industrial, trust Lyon Equipment to find solutions.
It’s stated mission? To “Provide equipment and expertise for people to venture further”.
Jonathan Capper, Managing Director, said: “We have come a long way since Ben made his first caving ladder and registered Lyon Ladders in 1973. Evolution, innovation and diversity have been the constant themes of our business during that time, underpinned with our commitment to technical expertise and service. With an independent future for the business secured through employee ownership we are looking ahead to the next 50 years with the same mindset. We are committed to supporting our partner brands and customers with the service they need to be successful in the future, regardless of where the ever-changing landscape of the outdoor industry takes us.”