Mental Fitness A Key To Success For Wyoming’s L & H Industrial As It Builds Biggest Machines On Earth

Mike Wandler, CEO of Gillette-based L & H Industrial, founded the Travis Ramsey mental fitness program after suffering panic attacks while deep-sea diving. It was so life-changing, he brought it to his company, and now the world.

Renée Jean

May 20, 20237 min read

L & H Industrial CEO Mike Wandler said a deep-sea diving accident sparked a journey to finding better mental health. Along with the personal benefits, prioritizing mental fitness in his business has been game-changing.
L & H Industrial CEO Mike Wandler said a deep-sea diving accident sparked a journey to finding better mental health. Along with the personal benefits, prioritizing mental fitness in his business has been game-changing. (Renée Jean, Cowboy State Daily)

A panic attack during a deep-sea diving accident sent Mike Wandler on a journey of self-discovery.

What he found was game-changing. Not just for himself, but his family and his business as well.

Wandler, CEO of Gillette-based L & H Industrial, brought the Honestly Better Mental Fitness Program to his company. Right off the bat, he said it’s helped take all the stigma out of talking about mental health at L &H. 

In fact, it’s worked so well Wandler has created a website to share the mental fitness program, which was designed by Travis Ramsey, with anyone who is interested in Wyoming and beyond.

“Travis goes all over the world doing workshops and helping people work on mental fitness,” Wandler told Cowboy State Daily. “And he’s also an ex-Army Ranger, so he trains in physical fitness and mental fitness, mental resilience. He’s got lots of things, but I’m specifically using him for mental fitness.”

Panic Attacks And Deep-Sea Diving Don’t Mix

Wandler was deep-sea diving in particularly rough water when he had his first panic attack five years ago. 

“And I thought, well, isn’t that interesting,” he recalled. “You know, you don’t want to have a panic attack when you’re diving.”

He started looking for help with the situation, which brought him to Ramsey two years ago. Through Ramsey’s process, Wandler learned he’d had a near-drowning incident when he was a baby.

“My sister was there, so she was talking about this, and I’m like, ‘Wow, that is exactly why this is happening,’” Wandler recalled. “And that was pretty powerful, because I understood then why I was having this problem when I was diving in rough oceans.”

But what was even more amazing was how Ramsey helped Wandler simply hit the reset button on the whole trauma.

“I could literally go in and reset this to a different experience where I’m not having a panic attack,” Wandler said. “And so I could keep diving. That’s how powerful this can be.”

Wandler said L & H has offered employee assistance-type programs before, but they were rarely used, and not just because of the whole stigma that comes with mental health.

Many people are just convinced that their mental health is what it is and cannot be changed, Wandler said. Or they think improving it will require years of time-consuming work, be personally painful and, on top of all that, be exquisitely expensive.

“And that’s not true,” Wandler said. “He just shows you how easy it is. And I experienced that, so I can vouch for that and say yes. Now, is it harder for some than others? Yeah, sure, but it’s also very doable for anybody who decides to do the work.”

Honestly Better Every Day

The process didn’t only help Wandler with panic attacks while he was diving in rough seas. It also helped him deal with the day-to-day chop that’s just life in general.

And that showed up in all sorts of ways.

Wandler found he could meditate for a lot longer. Things that used to bother him no longer did. His family and friends could even tell things were just different than before, in all sorts of better ways.

“You’re able to communicate better, you’re not as stressed out, you don’t have as much pain,” Wandler said. “Your pain can just go away. And, all of a sudden, you start accomplishing goals that you always had and were never done with.”

Wandler knew he had to offer the same opportunity to all of his immediate family.

“The thing about Travis is he teaches you how to fix (the problems) yourself,” Wandler said. “So, he’s not signing you up to say you need to come see me forever.”

The skills are so straight forward, Wandler said, that once people understand them, they can handle the emergence of new issues themselves. They don’t necessarily need to return to Ramsey.

“He’s given you the tools to take care of it yourself and to realize it’s there, and to let it go,” Wandler said. “Now if you want to go back to him and that helps, great, call him or call somebody like him up. But literally his goal is to teach you how to do this for yourself.”

LH Industrial
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Bringing Mental Fitness to L & H Was A No-Brainer

Watching the transformation of family members was the coolest thing, and he realized that bringing this game-changing experience to his company was not only the right thing to do, it was a no-brainer in all sorts of ways.

Thinking through the nuts and bolts of how to share the Travis Ramsey sessions with everyone at the company led to the decision to record them all. From there, it was a short leap to decide to simply share them with anyone who is interested in better mental fitness.

All the sessions are online at the Honestly Better Mental Fitness Program, which plays off of the company’s motto for “honestly better” equipment. L & H makes some of the biggest equipment in the world, and has even handled large projects for NASA.

Having the sessions online gives L & H employees flexibility to watch sessions at their leisure if a particular working day doesn’t allow them to watch when everyone else does. It also allows them to share the program easily with family and friends.

Wandler lets supervisors decide whether employees can watch the monthly group sessions during working hours, as they best know their people and how best to work the program in without disrupting ongoing projects.

Wandler told Cowboy State Daily it’s hard to put a particular number on the impact the program is having for L & H, but he can already see it in the energy of the people around him. It’s also enabled conversations with employees that wouldn’t have been possible before.  

“Thinking of my own productivity because of my mental fitness, I would say I’m probably 50% more productive than I was before,” he said. “So, I think as a human being, I’ve personally gotten like a 50% improvement in productivity, quality of life, happiness and joy than I had three years ago.”

Giving all that to his family, his coworkers and now community at large has been life-changing, Wandler added.

“We all have stuff that we’re working on, right?” he said. “We have relationship problems, we have kid problems. We have our own issues that distract us, right? So, in the workplace, to see happier people, to see mental fitness all of a sudden be OK and popular and open to talk about it.

“This is the most valuable thing I’ve ever done by far. We could not only prevent someone from choosing suicide, we can also show them how to improve their life to a level of joy. So, we’re not just doing the minimums. We’re giving them a whole, free to walk up, and then have a wonderful life.”

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Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter