Business News

April 2016

PLCA draws 600 delegates to 68th Annual Convention

Frank O. Welch, president of Rockford Corporation, presided over the Pipe Line Contractors Association’s 68th Annual Convention recently at the president at the group’s recent annual meeting at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale in Arizona.

New officers elected for 2016 included Bernie Bermack of Pe Ben USA, Inc., president; Robert A. Reiss, Sr., Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Co., as 1st vice president; Robert C. Osborn, Michels Corporation 2nd vice president and Jimmy L. Crotts, Appalachian Pipeline Contractors LLP as treasurer.

Directors serving for 2016 are Christopher T. Leines, Minnesota Limited, LLC and Kelly Osborn, U.S. Pipeline, Inc.; Brian Ganske, Snelson Companies, Inc.; Dwayne Osadchuk, Oz Directional Drilling; Steven R. Rooney, Precision Pipeline, LLC; Ronnie Wise, Price Gregory International, Inc.; Jim Summers, Associated Pipe Line Contractors, Inc.; John Allen, Pipe Line Constructors, LLC and Frank O. Welch, Rockford Corporation.

PLCA’s 69th annual convention will return to the Hyatt Regency in Scottsdale, AZ from February 14-18, 2017.

Polyguard purchases Corsicana building with eyes on expansion 

Polyguard Products Inc. announced that it has purchased a 380,000 square foot facility in Corsicana with plans to expand its manufacturing plant. Polyguard plans to increase its production capabilities, and the new building, which more than doubles the company’s current building assets, and is in line with Polyguard’s long-term plans. In 2015 alone, Polyguard increased its employee base by over 20 percent with plans to hire more companywide staff within the next two years.

Fecon strives to help students with college and career readiness

Fecon Inc. has developed a unique and successful approach to achieving a career-ready work force.  Fecon is a small company that designs, engineers, and produces a wide range of industry-leading forestry and drilling equipment. Their products are used for clearing vegetation for utility and road rights-of-way, invasive species removal, fire-risk abatement, maintaining and improving forests, wetlands, and other habitats, as well as in the energy industry to clear vegetation for exploration and infrastructure and in the pursuit of renewable sources of energy. Fecon equipment is used in residential and small commercial geothermal drilling, soil and ground water remediation, bio-harvesting for clean energy, material recycling, and road construction and maintenance.  Their products are used extensively in the United States, and throughout the world in countries such as Canada, Paraguay, Chile, France, Russia, Ghana, and Australia.

Given the wide range of products they manufacture, Fecon requires a diverse, dedicated, and skilled workforce. To that end, they have cultivated robust relationships with local universities, high schools and technology training schools. The success of this approach is not in a single aspect of it, but rather in the broad range of programs in which Fecon takes part.

At the university level, Fecon hosts engineering internships for 12 students from the University of Cincinnati (UC), University of Dayton (UD) and Ohio State University (OSU) each year. They also participate in a cooperative education program with the Honors-PLUS program in UC’s College of Business. Fecon’s Vice President of Operations and Engineering regularly attends student networking events at UC and UD. They grant internships to OSU students majoring in international business via the Ohio Export Internship Program. These interns work on projects such as strategic planning for expanding export activities, identifying new export markets and other areas of international trade. Fecon offers real-world design issues to engineering students at UD’s Innovation Center, who are tasked with producing design, design and build, redesign, or innovation of a product. Students are mentored by a senior Fecon engineer during the semester-long assignments. Fecon also participated as a case study in a semester-long strategic analysis conducted by students of UD’s MBA program.

At the high school and technology training school levels, Fecon has a longstanding partnership with the Warren County Career Center (WCCC), accepting up to five welding and machinist interns from their program each year. Their Operations Manager conducts presentations during WCCC welding and machining classes.  o ensure students are able to gain as much hands-on practice as possible, Fecon donated 5 tons of scrap steel to the WCCC program. The company also provides real-world engineering drawings to WCCC for welding students’ practice. Recently, Fecon started a similar program with Butler (County) Technology and Career Development Schools, speaking at classes and providing tours and information to their students.

Ditch Witch Certified Training Program will get crews ready

“We’re In This Together” is the philosophy at the Ditch Witch® organization, a Charles Machine Works Company, and the core behind its training program to provide underground construction operators with training that fits their schedule and best suits their needs.

“The industry is growing and needs a new generation of operators, especially as broadband expansions and other market demands continue as forecasted,” said Greg Wolfe, Ditch Witch director of training. “This training program provides the tools, information and convenience to learn HDD best practices effectively and safely at your own pace and at no cost. It also provides operators with immediate productivity on the job.”

The initial launch of the Ditch Witch Certified Training program is focused on horizontal directional drilling (HDD), which extends the company’s on-site, classroom-style training to allow novice HDD operators to train online at home, in a dealership, or on a mobile device. The program includes six training courses: HDD overview, best practices, drill pipe, tracking, HDD tooling and drilling fluids. Anyone interested – including industry newcomers and experienced operators – can register online and take the courses at their convenience, as many times as needed. After completing all courses, participants receive a certificate of completion.

“All equipment should be operated and maintained by well-trained operators,” said Wolfe. “But we’ve found that newer operators are intimidated because they’re not familiar with the use of HDD equipment.”

In addition to the online courses, the Ditch Witch Certified Training program includes instructor-led classroom training courses, HDD simulator training, and dealer-site training on the equipment and on the jobsite. Combined, these training solutions are designed to expose operators to real-world challenges and scenarios, and help them gain an understanding of machine controls and learn proper operating procedures for improved productivity and enhanced jobsite safety.

With plans to incorporate additional curriculum, the training program will eventually extend beyond HDD to focus on all segments of the underground construction industry. “The driving force behind the comprehensive training program is ‘we get crews ready.’ We are excited to bring new opportunities to the market and continue to serve as a trusted industry resource for our customers,” Wolfe added.

Providing quality training and resources is a Ditch Witch® standard. The company assembled its first training team in 1974, and has continued to provide expert training and jobsite solutions aimed at helping customers increase project safety and productivity.

The online training courses are currently available in English, and will soon be offered in Spanish and German.

Willbros appoints new Investor Relations Vice President

Willbros Group Inc. announced that it has appointed Stephen W. Breitigam, as Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Development, effective February 15, 2016. Mr. Breitigam is succeeding Mike Collier, Senior Vice President Investor Relations, Marketing & Communications, who has elected to retire in mid-February. Mr. Breitigam will report to Van A. Welch, Willbros’Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Breitigam joined Willbros in 2008 and has served in various capacities including M&A activities, internal audit, and operations support for several business units. Most recently, he served as the financial lead in the significant business unit divestitures made by Willbros, including the sale of the Professional Services segment. Mr. Breitigam is well versed in Willbros’ business and brings over 30 years of experience in the energy sector to his new position. In addition, he is a Certified Public Accountant and a graduate of Bowling Green State University.