Contained in one business, the materials behind the oil boom

By Corey Paul

Odessa American

Odessa, Texas

Along a south industrial stretch in Odessa there is a business called Diversified Warehouse, and inside, materials that power the oil boom lie waiting in a form rarely ever seen out on the oil patch.

There are roughly 6 million pounds of a substance called guar gum, for example, that will be mixed with water. That will form the “slick water” for fracking jobs at well sites, which is what unlocked the oil from shale rock in the first place.

About 90 percent of the supplies inside this business come from elsewhere, and most are destined for oilfield use in the Permian Basin, explained owner Ted Tuminowski on a recent visit. There are really two warehouse facilities at the site, and there is a third smaller warehouse across town. Together, they represent some 165,000 square feet of storage space.

“Honestly, I don’t know what a lot of this stuff is,” Tuminowski said, laughing. “Or even what it does.”

But Tuminowski has picked up a lot since he bought the business 12 years ago. Tuminowski treats his vantage point as low key, but it is also one without any direct competition out here. There are no other so-called third-party warehouse businesses in Odessa with a purely logistical focus, Tuminowski said. There are businesses with smaller-scale warehouses. But the short of it is Diversified Warehouse moves a lot of stuff.

Inside the warehouses, there are motors, rotors and flanges for the well sites and the drilling pads. There are foam-like substances headed for the Rextac petrochemical plant. There are shelves upon shelves of company documents, kept in some cases for legally mandated amounts of time and destroyed upon request — another service the company provides.

Then there are lots and lots of chemicals, although Tuminowski said he does not handle anything especially volatile, such as liquid nitrogen or explosives.

Also, there is a giant crate of beef jerky.

That belongs to the nonprofit group Christmas For OUR Troops. The charity will send the beef jerky in a box with other essentials to overseas soldiers, and Diversified warehouse will bundle and truck these goods on their next leg of the journey.

Tuminowski stores these goods for free, the result a relationship that developed from his Rotary Club. His fellow Rotarian and friend Charles Cotton runs the Odessa branch of Christmas For OUR Troops.

“I kind of laugh and tell Ted, ‘Obviously, you can tell the oil boom is in business. A couple of years ago you would go in his warehouse and there wasn’t nearly as much stuff in there,’” Cotton said. “He’s quite a success story, and he’s really just a nice guy. We couldn’t do this project without him.”

Tuminowski recounted coming to the Permian Basin in the late 1970s, fresh out of high school and somewhat aimless. He found work as a roustabout — a worker that maintains just about everything on an oil-field operation — and earned a living that he managed to not lose during the bust of the early 1980s. By then, Tuminowski had tired of the work and decided to go to college here.

Sticking around happened almost by accident, he said, as he started a family and soon a business selling fireworks.

When Tuminowski bought the warehouse business 12 years ago, it was just one facility on the west side of Industrial Drive, and it was failing. The business had relied on goods from Ameripol Synpol, but that Odessa synthetic rubber company had folded. Still, Tuminowski saw opportunity in the facility, “because people still need to store things.”

He built up a Web presence and began canvassing local businesses with the intention of learning from their vendors, who were his real targets.

“I’d like to tell you I’m this smart businessman building this business from the ground up,” Tuminowski said. “Really my timing was just good.”

Christmas For OUR Troops founder Scott Davis spends time in the warehouse helping to ready the goods for the troops.

“I had always wondered how it was stored and where it was shipped to and things like that,” Davis said. And then there was a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” element to the place, too, with the big mysterious crates. “I’ve always wanted to hit a golf ball down one of those aisles and see how far it would go.”

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