What is a single-source contractor? The term gets thrown around a lot in industry, but what does it really mean? The basic concept behind the phrase seems to be pretty consistent — one source with the ability to fulfill all of a client’s contracting needs. However, past that point, the term can be a bit misleading. Some companies might call themselves “single-source providers” because they provide all specialty crafts or because they offer a wide range of plant support services, but those are only pieces of the overall picture. Austin Industrial believes in order to fulfill the true definition of a single-source contractor, a company should have a much broader and deeper business model. They should be able to provide the client with all disciplines within all of the major service categories. Austin has spent years building upon its core services, adding new ones, increasing its geographic footprint, expanding into new markets and refining its culture to embody that true definition of a best-in-class, single-source contractor.
Austin’s business model is different from other contractors in industry for several reasons. First, the company has built its culture on cornerstones such as safety, integrity, performance, responsibility and employee ownership. Because of that strong foundation, the company has the natural ability to grow, change and create successes for its clients.
Austin was founded more than 100 years ago and has a long history of working with integrity and responsibility as well as producing exceptional results. Those deep roots within industry give today’s clients exactly what they need — stability. When dealing with a fluctuating business market, clients need to trust the contractor they hire today will be around tomorrow and will have the ability to meet or exceed their performance expectations. Austin realizes this and constantly strives to create value for clients through its innovative solutions, uncompromising honesty and reliable actions. In recent years, Austin’s employee-owners have used the company’s Opportunity for Improvement Program to submit innovative, cost-saving ideas to clients, which has resulted in more than $22 million in client validated cost savings. Total Petrochemicals Bayport HDPE (high density polyethylene) Plant Maintenance Manager Jerry Kohler offered praise for Austin after reaching an impressive milestone. “The Austin employee-owners at Bayport continue to provide Total with a dedicated work force that helps the facility not only be competitive but also safe,” he said.
Making safety a value
Austin Industrial’s safety record is one of the best in the industry. In recent years, the company has performed more work hours than ever and still managed to improve its safety record. Randy Stephens, construction superintendent for Austin Industrial, said the company was able to accomplish that because Austin chooses to make safety a value, which takes it beyond a priority.
“Priorities do change,” Stephens said. “They change out here on these jobsites daily, but values don’t. We do continuous trainings along with job hazard analyses, stop work cards, tool box meetings and much more. It’s just nice to know I can come here, keep my values in order, complete a job safely and then go home to my family at the end of the day.”
Employee ownership plays a huge role in successes like the aforementioned one. The company began the transition to employee ownership in 1986 and became 100-percent employee owned by 2000. Many in the industry might question why employee ownership is an important differentiating factor for Austin, and the answer is simple. Being employee owned means every single person within the company has a personal stake in its future and, because of that, the employee-owners tend to be more responsive, more cost conscious and more pioneering in their approach to a client’s work. Richard McConnell, Austin Industrial site manager at the LyondellBasell Houston Refinery, said, “The employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) has built ownership and pride in the employee-owners who work for Austin Industrial. I think they take this as a commitment to Austin and work to improve themselves through training and job opportunities. It makes Austin a great company and allows us to supply quality services to our clients.”
Geographic diversity, vast array of services
Another distinguishing element of Austin’s unique business model is its amount of market and geographic diversity. The company has extensive experience performing within all aspects of the petrochemical, refining, power and manufacturing industries. Austin has knowledge of each of these, from facilities that produce tires to ones that make fuel out of wood chips. The company is further diversified by its ever-expanding geographic footprint. Austin now has more than 120 active sites throughout the United States, with the largest concentrations along the Gulf Coast, the Southeast and the Midwest. Additionally, the company officially opened its office doors in Canada this year and plans to start work there in the near future. This diverse knowledge base and extensive geographic coverage make it much easier for Austin to properly service its clients, whatever and wherever their needs may be.
The last, and arguably most important, aspect of Austin’s single-source business model is the vast array of services it offers. The company has spent significant time assessing clients’ needs and wants, and has added or expanded its offerings accordingly. Most recently, Austin recruited new employee-owners with expertise in the standalone turnaround market. Austin Industrial Turnarounds Operations Manager Brad Kaiser said, “Austin has the resources and capabilities needed to excel in this marketplace, and our employee ownership structure allows us to attract and retain the best talent in the business.” With this newly acquired expertise, upgraded cost tracking processes and new equipment, Austin has positioned itself to become a leader in yet another aspect of the industry.
Austin has provided specialty crafts in conjunction with other services but has recently refined its focus on the scaffolding, insulation, painting and abatement programs; further developed its systematic programs; and added additional subject matter experts. Austin Industrial Vice President of Specialty Services Allen Bottego added, “We are in the throes of exciting market conditions, and we are focused on providing the most cost-effective approach to our clients. Through multicrafting, we have initiated savings for our clients and are determined to refine our approach moving into the future. Austin has been able to validate savings of up to 35 percent for a single site’s year-over-year expenditure.”
The company also added heat exchanger services to its list of proficiencies, and the program is continuing to gain momentum. Austin Industrial Operations Manager Tom Boisture remarked, “I am very proud of the growth we have seen within this sector of the business. Our team is expanding, and we are steadily increasing our market share.” Capabilities of the Austin Exchanger Services team include bundle insertion/extraction, rigging, tube replacement, torqueing, tube plugging, bundle repair and insulation blanket work. The successful completion of these projects for various clients, purchase of additional bundle extraction equipment, implementation of an extractor operator training program and increase in the size of the exchanger services team ensure the program’s continued success.
Austin’s core services include maintenance, construction, small capital projects and plant services. The organization has a long history of success with these competencies and recognizes it must always strive to continuously improve and exceed expectations to keep momentum in these essential areas of the business.
Austin is probably best known for proven performance in maintenance services, providing civil, structural, mechanical, instrumentation, electrical, scaffolding, insulation and abatement, painting and coatings, janitorial, grounds and material handling. Approaching maintenance work with a team approach ensures Austin/client alignment, open communication and continuous monitoring of meaningful key performance indicators. Add to this Austin’s continuous improvement process and clients realize positive outcomes — cost savings, less waste and improved performance. Austin also has a proven process to transition an existing work force that ensures a smooth, orderly and nondisruptive changeover. This process is an important first step in changing the culture to one of employee ownership and achievement of site goals.
Additionally, Austin Industrial has a small capital group capable of meeting size and complexity needs of clients’ small capital projects. Austin’s keys to success for this type of project include but are not limited to having clear, open lines of communication; early input into the capital process during FEL (front-end loading) 2 and 3 stages; developing project specific execution plans; strictly adhering to project specifications and safety and quality standards; timely progress reporting; and using trained, informed, effective supervision and craft personnel to perform all aspects of the job.
Major construction is another strategic part of Austin’s business model. The company’s large industrial construction experience dates back to the late 1940s when it built its first power plant. Austin employs experienced, knowledgeable and reliable field-based construction teams throughout its work force. These teams are designed to address specific, project scope work needs. Austin’s recent performance on a large LNG fractionator construction project gained recognition from Johnny Godwin, Burns & McDonnell construction manager over the project. “Austin Industrial has done an outstanding job on the overall performance on the Mont Belvieu project,” Godwin said. “The project team is knowledgeable, approachable and easy to work with, with an eye on safety, reliability, quality and performance. It has been a pleasure working with a like-minded ESOP company and we look forward to a strong finish of MB2 and more future opportunities with Austin Industrial.”
Austin has created a true, single-source approach — one that is client focused and client recognized for its ability to lower cost and improve efficiency. Grounded in Austin’s employee-owned culture, commitment to customer service and dedication to superior performance, this distinctive approach builds strong relationships that, in turn, drive collaboration, innovation and improvement. A proven differentiating factor in the company’s success, the single-source approach provides clients with a unique competitive advantage and firmly establishes Austin as an industry leader.
For more information, visit www.austinindustrial.com or call (713) 641-3400.