“You have to have nerves of steel.”
That is what Jack Rosa, President and CEO of Fintube LLC, tells his sales force during meetings about how to face the financial instability that has affected all sectors of the infrastructure industry for the past five years.
Fintube LLC knows a thing or two about weathering storms in its industry. The company has survived and thrived for 50 years while changing owners on several occasions in that time, and it is still the market leader in manufacturing and innovation of technology and equipment used in heat transfer applications.
Fintube is a pioneer in the development of high frequency resistance-welded finned tubes in the United States and has contributed to the advancement of the processes in other countries, such as Japan, India and Italy. The company has four state-of-the-art-facilities, three located in Tulsa, Okla., and one in Monterrey, Mexico.
Rosa has been with Fintube since 2006 and believes in his company to such an extent that, when a private equity firm bought it from U.S. Steel Corp. in September 2010, he decided to invest his own money in it. “I put my money where my mouth was,” he explains. “In the private equity world we say, ‘You have to have your skin in the game.’ And you wouldn’t put your skin in the game unless you believed in the game.”
Facing the Challenges
Rose does not pretend that his industry has not suffered its share of ups and downs in the past six years, something he refers to as a “roller coaster.” The Enron debacle shook the infrastructure industry to its core and created a high level of uncertainty for the companies involved in that field.
Fintube’s main line of operation deals with infrastructure in a wide array of sectors. The company does business with power plants, refineries, the petrochemical industry, hospitals, hotels and apartment buildings. “Anything that uses vapor, heat and steam will use one of our products,” Rosa explains.
“Nerves of steel” were just one of the ingredients that propelled the company ahead in tough times. Rosa credits its company innovative spirit, vision and manufacturing capabilities with a large part of their success.
“I believe my company is the leader in the industry for a number of reasons,” he explains. “We are the largest company of our kind, and we are also the only one that has a vertically integrated manufacturing process. We can take care of production from ‘A’ to ‘Z’ without having to subcontract any of our processes like our competitors have to do.”
Fintube has three business units: the electrical resistance welding (ERW) unit, the unit that manufactures finned tubes that go into heat exchangers and a third unit that makes a variety of heat recovery exchangers, economizers, air heaters and water reheat systems.
“Fintube is almost like a holding company where we have all these business units under one umbrella,” Rosa explains.
Fintube’s factories are ISO 9001 certified and adhere to the most stringent quality control systems in the industry.
“Our philosophy is that quality needs to be built into the process,” Rosa says. “We have a process of checks and balances, and every employee who works in our factories knows that.
“They understand that if they make a mistake it can have disastrous consequences, not only for our reputation but for the well being of our customers and the public at large,” Rosa continues.
To further ensure the safety of their final product, the company selects the best providers of raw materials in the industry. “We might not be paying the cheapest [prices] for our raw materials, like steel, but we’re not about saving a penny here and there,” Rosa explains. “Our focus is to deliver the best product that we can for our customer.”
Rosa notes that the consequences of a faulty tube can have disastrous ramifications. “If you have any kind of leak inside of a tube once it goes into a boiler, it could ruin the boiler [a very expensive piece of equipment to replace],” he adds. “You would have to shut everything down and spend a tremendous amount of time and energy fixing those problems.”
If the problem occurs in an economizer, the customer will not be reaping the benefits required from the unit, so the client will not be getting the savings to justify the investment in that equipment.
“It is critical that our products are of the highest quality because if they fail, they create massive problems,” Rosa says.
In the field of innovation, Fintube has several proprietary technologies and patents that have cemented their leadership position. The company designed and developed a new technology five years ago called AeroSeg that resulted in a 29 percent increase in heat transfer compared to serrated finned tubes. “The impact of that is that you can use this technology to build smaller or more efficient heat exchangers for power plants,” Rosa explains. “It also enables you to design and manufacture smaller footprint units, lighter in weight,” he notes.
Rosa notes that the company also focuses on day to day tasks like helping customers take care of their products and, as he puts it, “putting out fires.” But he is proud to be part of a company that has the foresight to take care of its customers, deal with manufacturing issues, and in addition make innovative changes to its industry, creating a better industry. “I am proud to be part of such a forward thinking company,” Rosa admits.
The company is looking to grow in two arenas, organically, looking to penetrate and expand new and existing markets in the United States and abroad. “We have a very healthy balance sheet and we are actively pursuing synergistic acquisitions,” Rosa notes.
With state-of-the-art products and factories and a desire to continue innovating and growing, Rosa will achieve his goal “to continue being the best in the industry.” mt