Mass. Company's Bet on Shale Revolution Paying Off
A 103-year-old New England company with roots in the wool trade and green manufacturing has entered its second century in business on a solid growth trajectory, thanks in part to opportunities from the shale revolution underway in the oil and gas industry.
"Our factory is only a 5-hour drive from the heart of the Marcellus," said Daniel Weinstein, president and CEO of Rig Grip Incorporated.
The family-owned New Bedford, Mass.-based company sells a rugged containment system for well pads designed to install in a single day. Because of its durability, some gas operators are reusing the pad from drilling through completions, noted Weinstein, adding this in turn reduces expenses and the impact on landfills.
Demand for the recyclable containment system, marketed under the name Rig Grip and made with post-consumer materials, is growing rapidly in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, and this fall the company plans to expand its reach into North Dakota and Texas, Weinstein said.
Rigzone recently caught up with Weinstein to discuss how entering the oil and gas market represents a new chapter for his family's business. Read on for excerpts from the conversation.
Rigzone: How difficult has it been to get your proverbial foot in the door with the oil and gas industry?
Weinstein: The folks on the front lines of drilling, completions and production are results-oriented. They've been waiting for the market to offer a resilient containment pad at the right price for quite a few years. We gain a lot of respect by encouraging trial pad sites for personal evaluation of performance prior to engaging in larger programs.
Containment in oil and gas calls for an unconventional amount of traffic coming and going over the liner. Rig Grip is unique because it is specialized for the needs of oil and gas rather than generic plastic sheet liner. These advancements include a very flexible, temperature- resistant and protected impermeable core, anti-slip safety attributes, and single day installation. Rig Grip is easy to repair, clean and recycle. Customers of Rig Grip are enjoying a reduction in repair costs, installation costs and material costs.
Rigzone: Serving the oil and gas industry was likely one of the furthest goals from the minds of your company's founder. Which values and principles that have always been a part of the company are serving you well in this new chapter?
Weinstein: First and foremost, teamwork and a commitment to the growth of our employees as people and skilled professionals. Many of our employees have been working with us for more than 10 years. We keep our people engaged by requiring all employees to attend at least one major meeting per quarter that is outside of their daily department. For example, machine operators must attend and contribute to sales and growth strategy meetings, office personnel must attend production meetings.
Furthermore, seasoned employees are empowered with decision-making authorities, providing an incentive for new hires to commit to the company and increase their respective value. Many producers in our industry employ seasonally to compensate for traditionally slow winters. Oil and gas production, which occurs year-round, has helped to insulate us from this practice.
(Also,) service. Everyone who does business with us knows the Weinsteins as much as they know our products. We pride ourselves on service, education, and building personal relationships with our most valued customers. "No surprises" is our calling card.
Rigzone: How is serving the oil and gas industry transforming your company? For instance, are you buying new equipment, hiring new employees and expanding your manufacturing facility?
Weinstein: Rig Grip's growing sales has allowed us to expand in a down economy and hire new people in production and sales. We are currently working with an investment bank and original equipment manufacturer consultant to finance $8 million worth of new equipment, and we are considering options to open a warehousing facility in Pennsylvania.
Rigzone: Shale plays are commonly associated with places like Texas, North Dakota and Pennsylvania, but not Massachusetts. How is shale development benefiting a "non-energy state" like yours?
Weinstein: Fracking has directly secured much needed work in a state with job-depressing policies. Beyond medicine and education, Massachusetts is hurting to attract new business. Manufacturing used to be an iconic industry for the state. The need to responsibly protect local communities while fracking has allowed us to keep our people working – and provide more opportunity in Massachusetts.
Rigzone: What's next for your company? Any plans to branch out into other industries?
Weinstein: Athletic field tarps, automotive containment and any other containment application that calls for durability and aesthetics.
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