Great State: Forum Energy Technologies
ELMORE CITY, OKLAHOMA — If you’re looking for evidence of a booming energy sector in Oklahoma this is the place.
The Forum Energy Tech plant near Elmore City makes tanks and separator vessels 24 hours a day, and it’s still not enough says boss John Ferris.
“This is our sub-arc area,” he describes on a tour through his busy facility.
Ferris and his two sons Johnny and Jake walk through the plant every day wondering how to make more tanks faster and better. “Quicker and less labor,” echoes John.
But it wasn’t always this way.
Back in the mid-90′s John and his boys worked out of a hay barn next to their house.
“Our original barn sat right here next to the house,” Jake points out. “The barn stood right where we’re walking.”
Their first forklift was a big tree with a chain hooked to a branch.
John quit a good job at Chesapeake Energy to work on his own ideas for a better separator tank.
“The basics of it is that it will save you anywhere from six to ten thousand dollars in fitting costs to set it up.”
“This allows you to do several things with one vessel,” says Jake.
Johnny and Jake both wanted to quit but Dad convinced them to give their operation five years.
It took almost that long but bigger companies started to notice.
John’s ideas worked.
He made a good product and then delivered on his promises.
Listing one secret to success, John said, “We took a lot of input from foremen in the field.”
“And these two were your first employees,” asks an observer? “Yeah,” laughs the elder Ferris. “I couldn’t fire them so I had to put them to work.”
Investors came calling.
One barn turned into a bigger barn.
In the last couple of years business has really taken off.
The Ferris’s keep innovating.
Their tank building facility keeps growing.
“It’s four to five times bigger than what I anticipated,” says John.
Neither of the three Ferris ever thought their small operation would get so big, that investors and customers would latch onto their ideas with such interest.
But a new oil boom, mixed with some new ideas and a little hands on customer service carry a lot of volume around here, as much as all these big tanks can hold.
The Forum Energy plant west of Elmore City employs more than 200 full time workers.
The plant is adding a second assembly line.
The facility is also the recipient of a 2013 innovation award from the Journal Record newspaper.