Last autumn we received a woven steel fence enquiry from Pennsylvania in the USA. We get a surprising number of enquiries from abroad, in the past we have supplied edging as far away as Rihad and it’s not uncommon to ship to our near neighbours in France and Ireland.
In this case, however, the enquiry was for us to install a woven steel fence, and quite a bit of it, around 355 metres in total. While shipping abroad is not uncommon, in the past we have shied away from overseas installs as we felt the cost of travelling and accommodation would be prohibitive, however on this volume of fencing the additional cost would be diluted over the large area of the fence so we felt in theory the maths could work from both sides. Despite that, we had suggested we could provide advice to their local trades to install our woven steel fencing but the client had seen our work and wanted us to do it!
After a few weeks of emails and video calls, we hatched a plan. Our client had contacts in the construction industry so we provided a list of all the materials and equipment we needed and they sourced them. In addition to this, they also provided on-site accommodation.
So four of us hopped on a plane for two weeks of work at the Nemacolin resort, in Pennsylvania, America.
We arrived at the site which turned out to be rather more impressive than we imagined, a large and rather affluent resort with golf courses, a ski resort, its own airfield and more.
Day 1 was daunting as we gained a full appreciation of the task in hand and an understanding of how hard the digging was going to be. To add salt to the wound after lunch we were advised there was a boundary change and the little we had achieved had to be started again. This was going to be our hardest woven steel fence to date by some margin. That evening I was contemplating the reality of the situation and in honesty feeling a little out of my depth. Our house was situated next to a lion enclosure you could hear each groan let alone the roars at feeding time, this could well have added to my anxiety and the surreality of it all.
Day 2 fuelled by adrenaline and probably desire to get away from the lions we made an early start in the knowledge we had an awful lot of catching up to do. Not completing the job on time was not an option, the return flights had been booked and we all had to get back for other work commitments at home.
Then the angels arrived, and a whole team of grounds maintenance contractors arrived to help us get the posts in, we were promised help but we didn’t expect this much and this good. Although we had only scratched the surface of the job we felt we were back in with a chance.
Over the next few days, we and around 10 local guys were knocking posts in and weaving with us at full bore. It was almost a full-time job setting up string lines and preparing the ground ahead.
And then, over the next couple of days, the job continued to go well to the point we got the weekend off, this gave us time to explore and make full use of the facilities!
The start of the second week hailed some pretty diverse weather, -7°C along with a cutting wind for good measure, it was cold, our nose hairs were freezing and you couldn’t touch the steel with bare hands without getting stuck to it. The weaving slats had frozen together and we were slipping on sloped areas.
We asked the local guys how they were coping with it, they admitted they were cold but trying to put a brave face on it, they were surprised we were not struggling too, we both decided to let our feelings flow and admit we were both bloody freezing and couldn’t wait to defrost our feet at the end of the day.
Fortunately the weather improved after a couple of days and progress remained good. With two of us following behind welding, large areas of woven steel fencing were being completed, slowly catching up with the guys at the end of the weaving. It was a great feeling we could see this job could be completed on time.
Thanks to the kinder weather, the fantastic guys for mulch and mow (the local grounds maintenance contractors) and our dedicated team we completed a day early giving us time to clean the fence on the last day.
The finished article was impressive if we say so ourselves, like the weaving steel the fence weaves through the undulating landscape following the contours like a living creature. It’s not possible to capture the whole fence in a single photo and we have to be mindful of clients’ privacy in not showing their homes but we managed a couple of end-of-the-day photos. I wish I had taken the time to capture more.
I was sceptical that the excursion would even happen, but it did. It was a fantastic experience all the people we dealt with were lovely and did all they could to make it work for us. The resort was fascinating and could only be described as centre parks on steroids!
Our client also has a waterfront property in Miami and we have dropped more than one hint that we would be open to installing some fencing there too…