American Precision work in high demand
BY KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer
Sunday, June 17, 2012
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It's no accident that most of American Precision Prototyping's work comes from the aerospace and energy sectors.
Inside their state-of-the-art machining shop at 19503 E. Sixth St., workers are cutting wing rib pieces for Gulfstream jets while across the building another group of machinists are making oilwell tools for energy servicing company Halliburton.
In another building, two men are stretching metal "skins" used to cover engines at locally based airplane manufacturer NORDAM.
"We've tried to make it so that when aerospace is down, we can go to the energy sector and get work," said American Precision Prototyping president Ben Neal. "It's pretty rare that both areas are down at the same time. It just happens that right now they are both up."
The 10-year-old company now has about 30 employees, and Neal said he would hire more trained CNC machinists if he could find them.
Times are good for energy and aerospace manufacturing firms such as American Precision Prototyping. High energy prices continue to drive demand for exploration, drilling, pipelines and refining while a rebounding economy and overseas demand is keeping airplane manufacturers busy.
In fact, aerospace manufacturing and maintenance make up Tulsa's three largest manufacturing employers in American Airlines, NORDAM and Spirit Aerosystems. The three companies employ more than 11,000 people locally, but they also produce business for dozens of local small manufacturers in the area that make parts, maintain equipment and repair aircraft.
Meanwhile, a bulk of other manufacturing firms in Tulsa, including hundreds of small machining shops, rely on the oil and gas industry for their livelihoods.
"Almost all the manufacturing in Tulsa is tied to energy and aerospace in one way or another," said Chuck Prucha, president of the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance. "It's those two industries that can take credit for most of the manufacturing in the area."
The Tulsa Metro Chamber estimates that, indirectly, the two industries contribute nearly $40 billion to the local economy through direct jobs but also the contract work that they give to area companies, including manufacturers.
In fact, the aerospace industry in Tulsa owes its roots to the early days of oil exploration in Tulsa, when oil company owners needed quick transportation to remote oil fields across the state, said Mary Smith, executive director of the Oklahoma Aerospace Alliance.
"In fact, the Phillips family (one of the founders of Houston-based energy giant ConocoPhillips) saw that if air transportation caught on, there would be a whole new industry for oil," Smith said. "They saw aviation and air transportation for cargo and people as the future, and they were right."
Larry Mocha, president and CEO of APSCO Inc., said his manufacturing shop was founded nearly 48 years ago with oil in mind.
The company makes pneumatic equipment for large trucks, such as dump trucks. But much of the company's business comes from a variety of vehicles used in the oil and natural gas field. Those vehicles need winches and other equipment, Mocha said.
Thanks to the strength of the oil sector, Mocha said the company, with about 50 employees, has seen a boom in the past two years as oil business has continued to increase in the area. He said he is expecting revenues this year near the $10 million mark, close to the record revenues the company was bringing in 2006.
"About half of everything we do is related to the oil sector," Mocha said. "They keep us in business."
Original Print Headline: Work is good in manufacturing
Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380
Times are good for energy and aerospace manufacturers like American Precision. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Ben Neal: American Precision's president said the company now has 30 employees.