Keys to supplying oil, gas business: Be smart, be ready and persevere

By Burton Speakman


The keys to becoming part of the supply chain for oil and gas businesses are: Be smart, prepared and persevere.

Three local business figures, Jerry Stoneburner of Buckeye Transfer Realty; Alan Wenger, an attorney from Harrington, Hoppe and Mitchell, Ltd.; and Rex Ferry, owner/president/CEO of VEC Inc; spoke Friday about opportunities available for local companies in the oil and gas supply chain.

The panel was sponsored by the Columbiana Chamber of Commerce. Jason Wilson, director of the governor’s office of Appalachia Development also was part of the panel.

The next two or three years are going to be an exciting time in the Mahoning Valley, Ferry said.

“When the companies call, you have to be ready,” he said. “I spent $100,000 just purchasing equipment — waiting on a call.”

These oil and gas companies will take bids and then call a year later, Ferry said. The expectation is to begin work the next day.

Stoneburner said being in the right location and perseverance allowed his company to get involved in the oil and gas business. Buckeye Transfer Realty first began transporting drilling cuttings as part of its trucking business to transport drill cuttings, he said. It also has expanded into taking frac sand to drill sites, he said. The company also owns a former National Refractories site in Fairfield Township where the companies formed a partnership to improve rail access and eventually will store frac sand.

“We were fortunate enough to have a perfect location,” Stoneburner said. “When we bought the site in 2003, I didn’t have a clue what we were going to do with the 300,000-square-foot warehouse.”

It took a year of working with these companies for them to be ready to negotiate, he said.

“When they call, you better be ready to produce,” Stoneburner said.

To get involved with these companies, understand what your business does well, Wenger said.

“Look for an appropriate niche for yourself to meet their needs,” he said. “There are costs and risks to becoming involved with oil and gas companies.”

Obtaining the proper certifications to work for oil and gas companies can be costly, and there is no guarantee of receiving work, Wenger said.

“This is our time in Appalachia,” Wilson said.

The people in state government aren’t talking about Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati anymore. They’re talking about smaller cities in the Appalachian region of the state where oil and gas exploration is ongoing, he said.

The key is developing the entrepreneurial spirit, because people in this region are used to working for someone else, Wilson said. Business owners are going to have to work together and come up with ideas to take advantage of the opportunities available.

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