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Innovation is at the Forefront of Ski Lift Safety

IMMOOS GmbH makes rescue operations safe and simple
Displaying safety management on gondola

Winter can elicit some of the harshest weather conditions to navigate a safety mission on a gondola lift. Luckily, IMMOOS GmbH is here to make that operation as straightforward as possible for the user. IMMOOS manufactures evacuation devices, personal protective equipment and climbing-protection systems and provides services ranging from safety management, training and inspection to evacuation concepts, plans and analyses.

“Our vision is to make that rescue operation safer and [simpler] because it’s complicated and hard work,” said Florian Immoos, owner and managing director of IMMOOS, headquartered in Switzerland. “We’re always looking at solutions that offer an easier and more comfortable operation for the rescuer and the person or persons they’re saving.”

Beat Immoos, Florian’s uncle, started the company in 1997, recognizing inconsistencies across ski resorts and areas in how rescue missions played out. “He was an employee of a cable car constructor and saw an opportunity to encourage a more standardized process of rescuing people on a lift,” said Florian. “Before IMMOOS, there wasn’t a specialized company that offered safety products for this industry.”

IMMOOS soon became a family affair as Beat’s brother and Florian’s father, Sepp Immoos, joined the company, bringing with him 25 years as technical chief at a ski resort in Hoch-Ybrig, Switzerland. “My father could always teach my uncle what the client needed for this mission,” said Florian. “At that point, my father was very close to the company and to his brother, so it made sense for him to join IMMOOS. He became the main developer of the products we have now.”

Florian says his uncle operated with a simple trolly and rope to hold it back. However, during that time, he was also helping Sepp develop the company’s main product, the SS1. “It was an evolution in cable car evacuation because from then on, [one person could do] a rescue operation in each sector of a gondola lift,” he said.

Another evolution in this product family is the SS20, which can be equipped with different drives and allows rescuers to come from the bottom to the top for evacuation operations. “It’s sometimes a faster method, but we still use the SS1 for standard solutions,” Florian said.

IMMOOS has built a respected reputation across European ski resorts and areas for 18 years, benefiting heavily from word-of-mouth marketing. “When we introduced the SS1 to clients, it was hard at first because they were unsure if it was safe enough,” said Florian. “We went to every ski resort to show it and try it out, and many were thrilled with the device.”

Over time, new clients sought out IMMOOS because of its focus on cable cars, evacuation and safety procedures. “It’s very much about trust, too,” said Florian. “However, I think clients feel that because we only focus and operate within this one area. We’re always up to date on the industry norms, standards and laws.”

While the product adds one layer of safety, managing and executing it effectively offers the most protection. Florian says the company works with clients to develop unique time calculations and rescue plans to fit that area’s location and conditions. “We always try to find the right solution for the customer,” said Florian. “If they already have a device, but don’t have a proper rescue plan, we can help them develop one.”

Florian says they have started working with companies in North America to expand their product range and service training to a broader audience. “Last year, we trained two people from Peak Rescue in the United States on our equipment for ski rescue in Switzerland,” he said. “We also have a reseller and service [partnership] with Rigging Specialties in Canada.”

So far, the response in North America has been positive, says Florian.

“I think it’s a very good solution, and it’s important to us to train our representatives in a meaningful way.” A good, thoughtful and innovative product is most important to Florian and the company’s success.

“Our products undergo constant testing and evaluation. We’re never satisfied with the status quo,” he said. “We are faced with an ever-increasing number of challenges from manufacturers and operators of cable cars and industrial systems. We embrace everyone with the same high level of passion. Every challenge gives our team of about 15 specialists the opportunity to seek out and develop new solutions.”