By Burton Speakman
Increased demand from companies in the oil and gas industry led VEC Inc. to open a new fabrication facility in Hubbard.
The former Powell Industries building at 500 Erie St. employs 16 people, said Chris Jaskiewicz, senior vice president and COO for VEC Inc. It operates under the company’s Evets Oil & Gas Construction brand.
“The new site is designed to prefabricate construction materials for oil and gas companies. Jaskiewicz said, “Their biggest issue is permitting.”
As permits are secured, these companies want as much of the work completed off site as possible, he said. The prefabricated pieces are assembled on site to allow the companies to begin work as quickly as possible.
“We started making improvements before we even owned the building. We took a chance so we would be ready to hit the ground running on Monday,” said Rex Ferry, owner/president/CEO of VEC Inc.
The day the Hubbard plant opened, they already had two months of fabrication work to complete, Jaskiewicz said.
Evets also is expanding with a $2 million fabrication facility for gas piping under construction in Tuscola, Ill., Ferry said.
The fabricating industry has a seasonal basis. Much of the work has to be completed during the warmer months because companies don’t want to build during the winter, Ferry said.
Evets has found some projects and other fabrication work that should keep the Hubbard facility operating fully throughout the year, Jaskiewicz said.
Part of the key to the addition was having it in the Mahoning Valley, Ferry said.
“We could have done this anywhere, but we’re loyal to this area,” he said.
VEC bought Evets in 2003 as an entry into the oil and gas market, Jaskiewicz said.
“The industry is very tough to get into,” he said. “You couldn’t do today what we did then [in 2003]. We’ve tried to buy some additional companies in the industry, but they now want 10 times what they did before.”
The key is, when these companies ask for a project, not to say no. They only ask once, and then they move on to other companies, Jaskiewicz said.
The oil and gas companies do not make money until they begin production. They rely on companies to meet tough deadlines, Ferry said. “One thing I can say, knock on wood, is that up to this point, we’ve never missed [a deadline],” he said.
Since the purchase of the Evets brand in 2003, that portion of VEC has increased in size by 500 percent, Ferry said.
VEC, through all its companies, worked in 16 states last year in the oil and gas industry, Jaskiewicz said. Although it works nationally, the company’s focus is Ohio, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“We have 177 active projects right now,” he said.
The workers from the Mahoning Valley have really helped sell the company to oil and gas businesses, said Dominic Spelich, client relations and corporation development manager for Evets.
“We get comments about the work ethic, family values and quality of work everywhere we go,” he said.
Ferry said his company has been working hard to get people exited about what’s coming. After traveling to North Dakota and seeing the work, housing situation and salaries being paid there, it’s clear things are just starting in Ohio.
“We need people to clean themselves up, or they’re going to miss a great opportunity,” he said.
“These companies are going to find somebody to do the work.”