March 30, 2010
Alumni Entrepreneurs: Lyerly '06 and Almeyda '08 run Ladder Nine Innovations

Vic Almeyda '08 and Chris Lyerly '06 have been making impressive use of their time and education since graduation. The two entrepreneurs began Ladder Nine Innovations while still enrolled at Lees-McRae.

"Ladder Nine Innovations is a company of firefighters for firefighters. Working to make quality tools for our brethren has been and will continue to be a great honor and a privilege," said Almeyda.

"Being firefighters ourselves, we are well aware of the challenges we all face on the fire ground or rescue scene, we are here to help you overcome your challenges. We thoroughly test our products in these real scenarios personally, if it doesn't work for us, we will not sell it to you," said Lyerly.

In 2007, Almeyda invented The Florian, a tool specific to firefighters and emergency crews that has proven to be very useful on the fire scene.

This unique design combines five tools into one without utilizing moving parts or hinges; thus making a stronger, longer lasting tool.

The Florian features a hydrant wrench, rough tooth saw, pry bar, gas/o2 wrench, and a spanner wrench, topped off with a generous five inch textured handle for a confident grip.

The company recently celebrated its greatest success yet - the placement of a deal with EJ Reynolds Company for the production of the Florian Fire Tool.

"We are very happy to work with such a reputable, all-American company," said Almeyda.

In addition, the dynamic duo has been traveling to fire colleges in western North Carolina to promote the tool and further their education.

Both Almeyda and Lyerly live in the Banner Elk area and are active firefighters.

Almeyda is a professional firefighter in Newland, a volunteer firefighter on Beech Mountain and the assistant chief for Banner Elk Fire Rescue.

Lyerly owns and operates his own construction business, Lyerly Remodeling and Renovations, and is a captain of Banner Elk Fire Rescue.

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