Control Flow Inc.

For 35 years, Control Flow Inc. has strived to meet the market’s demands for its products and services. Originally founded in 1975 by three partners as a supplier of wellhead and gate valve equipment for the domestic oil and gas drilling and production industry, Control Flow has evolved as a worldwide supplier of pressure control equipment, tensioner and motion compensation equipment for the deep water offshore drilling and completion industry, and pipeline tensioner equipment for offshore pipeline laying vessels. Under the constant leadership and guidance of its president and owner, William D. “Bill” Laird, the remaining original partner, Control Flow has grown to become one of the most widely respected names in the petroleum industry.

The company manufactures quality valves; offshore oil field drilling equipment; wellheads; production pressure control equipment; and motion compensation equipment, including pipe-handling equipment. Today, Control Flow’s products can be found in virtually every major drilling area in the world.

In 1980, Control Flow moved to its present manufacturing facility and headquarters in Houston. This location is the center for Control Flow’s product lines, providing design, precision manufacturing, in-house testing and training. Virtually all critical manufacturing is performed in air-conditioned comfort with numerically controlled equipment. The company has one field office in Cuidad del Carmen, Mexico, and works with numerous sales agents and distributors around the world, including the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

Facing Challenges

Described as a small- to medium-sized company in terms of facilities, manufacturing locations and em­ployee base by Jim Adams, managing director of business development, the company has more than doubled its annual business since 2006. Adams credits Control Flow’s success to its products, manufacturing capabilities, on-time delivery and customer service. To achieve continued success, Adams says the company’s vision remains the same: to provide good equipment at a fair price in a timely manner.

When asked what advice he would give to the next generation of leadership, Adams notes the importance of remembering to look back on a company’s history and successes.

“Do not fail to utilize the mentorship, leadership and knowledge of those who were there ahead of you,” Adams says. “They found a way to survive in business and industry during both the good and bad times.”

Competing with manufacturers overseas – especially those in China – continues to be a challenge for Control Flow.

“Basically, it’s the same challenge as it has been in the past: We are a product innovator while most of our foreign competitors simply copy our products and those of other U.S. companies,” Adams says.

He notes that it is difficult to beat foreign competitors’ prices when price and not reliability and service life is the only thing that the customer is considering. As a result, Control Flow must rely on its customers to consider quality products and timely deliveries when selecting a vendor.

In response to customer demands, Control Flow strives to manufacture products efficiently by acquiring state-of-the-art production equipment. In addition, Adams notes that the company constantly improves the design of its equipment. For example, a few years ago the company introduced a portable drill string compensator, a new-style breech block connector for use in making high-pressure connections on drilling rigs, and its unique inline production riser and slip joint riser tensioners for use in the oil and gas industry’s deep water drilling and completion testing  for oil and gas.