MARTIN, Ky. (WYMT) - When an electrician and a metal worker in Floyd County began seeing a downturn in the coal industry they worried they might soon be out of work.
"We sat around for several years and didn't know what to do," said C.W. Porter, co-founder of Slope Master, LLC. "We thought, 'we have this experience; let's try this.'"
Porter and his new business partner Mark Halbert spent years working on coal-related equipment in different capacities. Earlier this year, the duo decided to combine their expertise to create something in a different realm.
"I have all these metal fabrication background skills and all of his background skills are in the electrical end of it," said Halbert. "It's just like a melting pot."
He said they came up with an idea and started planning. But it was not long before they created the Slope Master. The machine is a remote-controlled lawnmower that they call "mine-tough."
"We bought the components and everything the first of February and started building it and we had it going by the first of May," said Porter.
The men said the project came together quickly and has only gotten better since the initial prototype was created. They said it will be a game-changer for people who have to do a lot of mowing and maintenance on hillsides.
"So, we're taking out the manpower factor and adding a machine and a safe environment," said Halbert.
The pair said the machine can do the work of four men in a portion of the time. They said it will help free up time and workers, and will also keep public workers from getting in situations where they may get hurt.
The entire machine is operated by remote control. If the controller fails or breaks, the machine shuts off automatically.
Halbert said he saw a need in the region for a safer, quicker way to take care of landscaping and he wanted to be part of the solution. So once the prototype was complete, the pair contacted Congressman Hal Rogers' office and eventually became partners with Shaping Our Appalachian Region.
SOAR is now working with the team to help them showcase the product. The duo has already received orders for the machine and hope to create a larger workshop to hire more people and produce the product on a grander scale.
"I think we're going to open some doors," Halbert said. "I think we're really going to make this come to life here in southeastern Kentucky."
For more information, contact Slope Master, LLC. at (606) 226-1004.