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Artco Group consolidates to cater to energy market

Keywords: Tags  Artco Group International, Houston Blow Pipe, Artco Steel, consolidation, Jeffrey Himmel, plate processing, heavy wall pipe production, energy play oil

CHICAGO — Artco Group International Inc. has merged its Artco Steel and Houston Blow Pipe operations, assembling a unified sales team catering to customers of both entities and offering a broader spectrum of product and service offerings, president and chief executive officer Jeffrey Himmel told AMM.

Artco Steel has a 1.2-million-square-foot plant on 122 acres in Hannibal, Ohio, that once housed Ormet Aluminum’s rolling mill. The operation processes heavy, thick steel plate. "It’s flame-cutting, saw-cutting, grinding and machining," Himmel said.

Houston Blow Pipe rolls, forms and welds plate. Applications include nonstandard pipe for onshore and offshore oil and gas rigs and cylinders that go into pressure vessels, including sand separators used in fracking operations.

"Each business had been run autonomously, but over time, with the growth in the (domestic) energy business, we found that a significant portion of our customers use both suites of products, and (our salespeople) were bumping into each other," Himmel said.

"We have begun the process of duplicating Houston’s capabilities in Hannibal and vice versa," Himmel said. "We will expand our flame-cutting and other plate-processing capacity in Houston and welding capability in Hannibal with the intention of installing forming equipment." He estimated the investment would total $2 million.

In Houston, Artco operates 1,000-ton to 3,000-ton press brakes. "Then, we have five plate-rolling machines that roll plate into pipe up to 6 inches thick." Although the company "can do huge diameters" of up to 200 inches, that is relatively easy, Himmel said. "Our forte is to be able to do small diameters. "For example, we can do 3-inch-thick plate in 24-inch diameters. The tough part is thick walls with small diameters."

Artco is meeting demands by oil and gas producers that pipe be manufactured regionally and shipped shorter distances. "In the Utica and Marcellus shale plays, they want material produced locally," Himmel said, and customers in the Gulf of Mexico that were supplied from Ohio also want more local service.

Artco has restarted service on a short-line railroad that runs into its Hannibal plant, which will serve Artco and energy-related companies leasing space in the building and property. "We have an ‘energy campus’ serviced by truck, rail and barge. We brought on several new clients who use our industrial park for frack sand, pipe and other products," Himmel said, noting that Monroe County and the surrounding counties have become "a hot area for drilling activity."

"We see this whole energy play as having traction for a number of years," he said.

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