Without a doubt, the 2014 year of the boom helped businesses in oil and gas communities flourish to unprecedented levels of success. But these days, the price of a barrel of petroleum is precarious at best. But, with U.S. production falling and refineries thriving with activity, the oil market could head towards a level stage after booming and busting. Businesses that grew to meet the demand and companies that may have missed out on the boom altogether could receive, to an extent, a second chance on capitalizing on the revenue oil and gas production brings to a community.
North Dakota saw some of the biggest examples of oil and gas as a springboard to success for surrounding businesses. Places like the Watford city now hosts fine Japanese sushi bars, Williston has corporate chain stores that would have never seen a market there ten years ago, and for a while, various oil field service companies were popping up by the handfuls.
T.R.S. Industries, a tarp manufacturing company based in Fargo, ND, has seen what the market has done for businesses and sees an opportunity even during a slowdown. The company has done a few custom covers for those in the industry but is ready to expand big time out west as oil production stabilizes for long term production.
“We’ve made the connections through conferences,” stated T.R.S. President and marketing manager, Rich Cossette. “We’re gearing up now to see what all we can offer companies.”
Finding a niche for tarps is an entertaining example of ways businesses are expressing entrepreneurial creativity towards the energy industry. To somewhat of a surprise, the necessity for such material is quite high out in the oil fields. Many above and below ground water storage pits (water for hydraulic fracturing or even waste water from drilling operations) are usually lined with non-permeable material to prevent leaks or contamination to surrounding soils. Out on the rigs, you can find waterproof tarps blocking out the winds and unforgiving chill of North Dakota.
Projects like weather coverage or perhaps “skirts” for the rotary tables that wrap around stopped drilling pipe (to prevent expensive tools falling down the hole during maintenance) are projects that a company like T.R.S. could do right away. However, like most things in the oil and gas industry, there are specific regulations to follow in a handful of cases.
Take Texas, for example, where the Railroad Commission of Texas enforces guidelines on any sort of liner used by a production company for containment or to prevent contamination. The base guidelines for operations are that the liner must have a permeability low enough to contain the material, the tarp or lining must be chemically compatible with the material with which it is expected to come into contact, it must be mechanically compatible with the operation and it must be capable of maintaining its integrity over time.
Nonetheless, custom orders with detailed specifics would mean good business for a company like T.R.S. looking to show its flexibility in a new market. Back in 2012, T.R.S. took the mammoth job of constructing a 200′ by 400′ tarp to help prevent further contamination from a chemical spill that happened near Plummer, Minnesota. For a custom job which would usually have a 10 day grace period, T.R.S. employees pushed it out in roughly three days.
“That was the largest feat we ever had to do with the old building,” Cossette said. The measurements of the specialized tarp actually expanded beyond the functionality of their building so T.R.S. had to adapt at the drop of a hat. Since then, T.R.S. has expended its manufacturing building to take on bigger projects.
Getting your feet wet into any new market will come with challenges. But it’s flexibility and what experience you bring with that can make all the difference. As mentioned, companies that exist in states where energy is a cornerstone of the economy are noticing their very close and active neighbors. For many, there is a homeostasis bound to happen between oil and gas and the other businesses residing close-by.
For more information about T.R.S. industries, visit www.trsindustries.com.