Staying ahead of the curve in pipeline technology with nearly 129 patents and accurate project forecasting keeps CRC-Evans Pipeline International a pioneer in the oil and gas industry.
CRC-Evans is headquartered in Houston and its manufacturing plant is in Tulsa, Okla. The company has been an innovator in the development of equipment to help contractors successfully build pipelines since 1933. It has provided equipment and services for more than 50,000 miles of pipelines in more than 100 countries. “We are with a contractor basically from start to finish,” Plant Manager Eric Pate says. “We don’t provide the machinery that puts the pipeline into the ground, but other than that we are a one-stop shop.”
The company doesn’t put the pipeline into the ground, but it’s there to provide an industrial sifter to rid the dirt that lies on top of the pipeline of any rocks, Pate explains. “What our customers look for is our quality and customer service,” he adds. CRC-Evans also provides pipeline construction equipment, automatic welding systems, managed subsea services, field joint coating, weighting systems and non-destructive testing. Other engineered equipment includes laybarge equipment, conveying systems and concrete weight coating plants.
In 2010, CRC-Evans became a subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker, a global provider of industrial tools, household hardware and security products. The acquisition has increased the company’s resources, allowing it to make significant investments in people and new product development.
The parts in CRC-Evans’ manufacturing plant are purchased through vendors, most often, or made in-house. The plant has separate paint and blast shops for its own products. “We do the actual welding of the equipment and the final assembly,” Pate explains. “We have high production rates on pipelines because our system is automated. It’s basically like four welders working on one joint at the same time.”
The manufacturing plant is also a distribution center for spare parts when equipment is sold or rented. CRC-Evans focuses on direct sales, but also provides rentals for contractors that don’t need a piece of equipment for a long time.
About 200 employees work in the Tulsa manufacturing plant and all are required to be skilled in welding. “Our employees are already trained welders and come in with a set of basic skills,” Pate says. “Trainees are paired with a seasoned employee for some additional training before being turned loose.” The state of Oklahoma has been instrumental in working with CRC-Evans to place new employees. State and local officials help establish job training programs for the unemployed. “That has been a pleasant experience,” Pate adds. “As a former non-resident of the state, I applaud Oklahoma. I came from North Carolina where unemployment is at eight or nine percent – it’s four percent here.”
Manufacturing employees are not seen as the only people responsible for increased productivity at CRC-Evans. Every employee has ideas on how to make operations run smoother and more efficiently, Pate explains. Employees in the sales, operations, manufacturing, marketing and finance departments are responsible for productivity. “This company does a great job at aligning all the departments,” Pate says. “It is viewed that productivity should be something that helps customer service and does not hurt it.”
Competition in the oil and gas industry never ceases and CRC-Evans stays ahead by making sure it has the latest technology to offer its clients. The company never waits to see what its competitors are going to do because its research and development team in Houston is always working on new products to increase productivity and reduce the cost of pipeline construction for its customers.
Because pipeline projects in the oil and gas industry are usually long-term, the assumption would be that CRC-Evans is aware of projects starting up well in advance. However, the opposite is true. “At some point a project may be given a green light and we have to be ready,” Pate explains. “We have to be leading with technology and make sure we are forecasting correctly. You really have to watch those two things in this business.”
Experienced sales teams keep their “ears to the ground” to provide CRC-Evans with accurate projections of a project start-up. The teams communicate well with the manufacturing plant so vendors can be alerted to replenish stock for a change in project status. “Because of all the fracking and reliance on natural gas, we have to be able to react quicker,” Pate adds. “It’s volatile depending on the type of process, product or project going on.”
In the future, CRC-Evans predicts the oil and gas industry will continue at its bustling pace and it is eager to continue providing equipment and services for pipelines. “We had one of our biggest years on record last year and it looks like it’s going to continue,” Pate says.