Mel Smith wants to turn the oil and gas valve industry on its head. He chose to go outside his company’s home base of Oklahoma City to expand his manufacturing plant and found Chickasha to be the ideal place.
The 73-year-old founder of Energy & Environmental Services discovered that the drilling boom in Grady County has plenty of real estate for a better price than in the capital city. The company is just one of at least six oil-field service firms that have expanded into Chickasha in six months, said local banker Paul Lewis.
For decades, Smith’s company has made a powder coating for oil-field equipment. Resistant to corrosion, the trademarked ENDURO-BOND®
coating is more durable than stainless steel, he said. Rather than coating parts for other companies, Energy & Environmental Services will soon begin coating valve parts, assembling and testing them in its Chickasha plant. That will allow the company to market the valves, not just the corrosion-resistant powder coating.
To do that, the company needed more space. Ernestine “Ernie” Sell, chief financial officer for the company, said buildings in Chickasha’s industrial park were half the price and twice the size of similar ones in Oklahoma City. Working with Lewis, business development officer for First National Bank, Smith and Sell found a building at 1728 W. Frisco.
The building, which formerly housed Arrow Safety Glass, has been empty for about five years. Lewis said the building’s layout and availability of workforce made the industrial park an ideal location to expand the company.
Jay Monroe, project director for Energy & Environmental Services, said the industrial park is a few miles from Interstate 44, which helps it get products to market quicker. The city’s Economic Development Council helped make the deal attractive, Monroe said.
“Chickasha seemed more open-armed and receptive of industrial development than Oklahoma City did,” he said.
Lewis said three independent drilling companies are leading the way for growth in the oil-field service sector: Continental Resources of Oklahoma City, Houston-based Marathon Oil Corp. and The Woodlands, Texas-based Newfield Exploration Co.
“It seems like almost every week we get an inquiry from an oil-field service company,” Lewis said. “In the last six months, we’ve gotten half a dozen companies that employ 20 to 60 people each.”
Lewis said Smith is a prolific inventor and his operation in Chickasha will continue to grow.
“I see good things on the horizon,” Lewis said. “I think they will be a great corporate neighbor in Chickasha.”….The Journal Record October 18, 2013