Trinity Forge Inc. is a forge shop that also provides value-added machining. “What that means is we not only provide forged products, but we also machine those products and provide general machining services,” President Dick Johnston explains.
Trinity Forge operates a modern closed-die forging plant in Mansfield, Texas, specializing in complex shapes in a wide variety of sizes. It provides value-added machining to forgings as well as job-shop machining services and die-and-mold machining.
The company has thrived for nearly six decades, not in small part because of the quality of its three-cone rock bit forgings. Historically this was the standard bit for both the oil and mining markets, though diamond bits, which do not require forgings, have been gaining in popularity in recent years.
A Reliable Business
Oil and gas drill bits have been a lucrative business since the days when Howard R. Hughes Sr. patented rock bits in the early 1900s. “The drill bit business is fairly reliable,” Johnston says. “However, the oil industry is cyclical. It’s based on a commodity so it rises and falls with that commodity’s supply and demand.”
Recent trends in the oil business have benefited Trinity Forge’s sales, however. “With horizontal techniques, suddenly the United States has regained our position in the world” as an oil and gas producer, Johnston says. “When companies are drilling for natural gas, the hydraulic fracturing process involves sand being forced down and coming back up again, being pumped at high rates of speed. The sand quickly erodes the components, happily leading to repeat business.”
The oil industry uses many forged parts, particularly for drilling and moving fluids. But today, rock bits and other drilling parts form about half of Trinity Forge’s business because it has diversified to better weather the ups and downs of the energy business. It also serves the mining industry. There, holes may not be as deep but similar methods are used. Hand tools, aerospace, railroad, construction and industrial equipment such as lifting hooks and cranes are also important sectors for the company.
Trinity Forge also serves the military, where it meets the most stringent customer specifications. “The most exacting specifications are for nuclear submarines,” Johnston says. “It is the ultimate specification to meet: your component could cause the loss of a vessel with all hands aboard. That’s the nature of the submarine service. The people in the submarine put their trust in the suppliers and we take that trust very, very seriously.”
Because Trinity Forge provides solutions to so many industries, “We see ourselves not as a product company but as a service company,” Johnston says. “Our customers design the products and tell us what they need so we see that as a service. As with any service, the customer wants it provided quickly and without any problems. That’s how we compete. We offer flexibility and provide good products, on time, as defined by the customer.”
Although forging is an ancient industry, Trinity Forge utilizes the latest technology. The company has invested heavily in its website, for example. “We are a multi-thousands-year-old industry but we believe the Internet is going to change the world,” Johnston says. “That’s why we have a website that tells our story and explains our process to people. We have gotten a lot of compliments from customers and prospects about the website.”
Many times, customers are not experts in forging. Instead, “They have a bill of materials that says ‘forging’ but they may not be all that familiar with it,” Johnston explains. So the company has found its website is a useful tool to explain its services to the wider business community, he says.
“At Trinity, our reputation is rock-solid built on proactive flexibility,” the company says. “We continually grow our capacity ahead of demand. And our onsite machine shop, streamlined processes and innovative technologies allow us to deliver any size order on schedule.”