Coastal Bend's Manufacturing Base is Strong and Diverse

While the fabrication industry is hardly new to the Coastal Bend area, innovative companies are bringing a fresh approach to one of the region's oldest and most successful industry sectors.

By on

While the fabrication industry is hardly new to the Coastal Bend area, innovative companies are bringing a fresh approach to one of the region's oldest and most successful industry sectors.

Everything from undersea pipe construction to military helicopter refurbishing is on the table, and multiple new projects, some massive in scale, showcase the area's ability to not only adapt to change, but to be a catalyst for it as well.

The area's strong partnerships are an asset. Such is the case between Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and the federal government, which allows the aviation manufacturer to work with staff at the Corpus Christi army depot to rebuild military helicopters that have seen service in Iraq and other theaters and need to be reconstituted for further use.

"We work primarily with the UH-60 Black Hawk and have been in partnership with the government since 2002," says Rick Golob, program manager of the Sikorsky-CCAD Partnership.

The first production model of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter rolled out of the Corpus Christi Army Depot hangar 44 and into aviators hands during a special ceremony June 25. The unprecedented UH-60 A to L modification increases the Black Hawk's mission lift, range and load capacity at a time when cost-effective measures are critical.

A major new player is TPCO America Corporation, a subsidiary of Tianjin Pipe Corporation of Tianjin China. When operational in 2011, the $1 billion facility will produce some 500,000 metric tons of pipe per year on a 250-acre site. It should bring at least 300 jobs during its first year of operation, with more people coming online as production continues to ramp up over time. The facility represents a major Chinese investment in the region, and also showcases the Coastal Bend's ability to pull various components together to get a major deal done.

"The cooperative spirit among all the various individuals and entities was a key factor in the selection of this site," says Zhang Wenfeng, vice president and chief officer. "TPCO believes the workforce in the area will be well qualified to meet our needs. This was a factor we evaluated during site selection."

A talented workforce also was a consideration for Helix Energy Solutions, which in July 2009 finished building out a facility in Ingleside that will construct subsea pipelines and their various components. These will be welded together in mile-long strings, placed on a special reeling ship and then laid in a single piece on the sea floor, says Joe Mazzola, general manager of shore-based facilities.

"We needed a large site, but it had to be a long, narrow strip of land on a deep-sea channel," Mazzola says of the operation, which when fully staffed will employ around 150 people. "We were able to get 120 acres here on the waterfront, so we have quick access to the gulf. The local governments and other agencies helped us out a lot, and we plan on being a long-term player in the area."

Other major players on the ground include Kiewit Offshore Services and Gulf Marine, which build offshore-drilling platforms; DuPont; Oxy; Sherwin Alumina, which processes bauxite into alumina, and Air Liquide, which supplies various gasses to area industries.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe Morris is a Nashville-based writer and editor. His career has spanned from small-town newspaper work in South Carolina to celebrity interviews in Los Angeles, and just about ev... more

More Articles About Corpus Christi, TX

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 19:55