Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Co. thriving at 110
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Friday, February 08, 2013
2/08/13 at 7:12 AM
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Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Co., 110 years old and going strong, is a family enterprise once again.
The Tulsa-based company, perhaps the oldest in the industry nationwide, already has booked $230 million worth of work this year. The backlog doesn't even include anticipated construction on the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, whenever that gets federal approval.
"We've always stayed focused," said David Sheehan, a fourth-generation co-owner, former CEO and current chairman of the board. "We've always stayed in the pipeline construction business."
Sheehan Pipe Line surely has expanded into other facets of the pipeline trade, including hydrostatic testing and valve changing. The company's bread and butter, however, has remained a pipeline builder since before John Sheehan moved operations from Pennsylvania to Tulsa to be near the Glenn Pool fields in 1903.
The Sheehans sold their company to a California private equity firm in 2009. Two years later, however, Sheehan and current CEO Rob Riess banded together to buy it back.
"Nothing really changed, no one lost jobs" as a result of the two deals, Riess said. "It just wasn't working as we had hoped it would."
Instead, Sheehan and Riess plan to transition into an employee stock-ownership format in the near future. The company has 85 permanent employees, 35 of those in the Tulsa headquarters.
Most of Sheehan Pipe Line's assets currently are deployed to build infrastructure for Enterprise Product Partners LP in the Utica and Marcellus shales in the Northeast. The company also has contracted work for Piedmont Natural Gas around Nashville, Tenn.
Later on this year, pending approval of the new route, Sheehan Pipe Line should start work on the Keystone XL's northern leg from the Canadian border to Steele City, Neb. The Keystone work is part of a joint venture called MPS, with Sheehan Pipe Line combining with Michels Pipeline Construction and Price Gregory.
"We've already backlogged a significant amount of work," Riess said.
The pipeline trade, like any in the oil and gas sector, is fickle and full of booms and busts. Sheehan Pipe Line's fortunes were no different through the years, although the shale gas boom helped deliver close to $800 million in annual revenue during recent years.
"We've had our moments," Sheehan said. "We were big in the 1920s. We went down to two employees in the Great Depression and somehow survived that."
History seems to follow Sheehan Pipe Line around. Another part of its workload now includes rehabilitation of existing pipelines, some of which are 60 to 70 years old.
And the future looks as promising as ever, with U.S. oil production reaching highs not seen in decades. Sheehan also looks ahead to possible infrastructure work around liquefied natural gas terminals along the Gulf Coast.
Sheenan Pipe Line is older than Williams Cos. and Willbros but never opted to vertically integrate its pipeline business model into commodity, storage and processing ownership like some counterparts.
"We weren't trying to be a Fortune 500 company," Riess said. "That's the beauty of the Sheenan Pipe Line story."
Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Co.
Year founded in Tulsa: 1903
Headquarters: 2431 East. 61st St., Suite 700.
Employees: 35 in Tulsa, 85 companywide and hundreds contracted on various projects.
Service sectors: Mainline pipe construction, midstream-gathering hookup, integrity management, testing and rehabilitation.
Original Print Headline: Pipeline to longevity
Rod Walton 918-581-8457
Rob Riess, president and CEO of Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Co., helped the family of the company's founders buy back the enterprise from a private equity firm about two years ago. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
David Sheehan: He's a fourth-generation co-owner of the business that began in 1903