The Speedy Steel Fabricators

Contracting Engineering Consultants expedites oil and gas compressor-station projects to ensure future work

CEC has done structural-steel work for all kinds of facilities, including this Shaft Drillers International building in Mt. Morris, PA.

At a Glance

Location
Maidsville, WV

Founded
1988

Employees
20–22

Specialty
Steel fabrication for industrial and commercial installations

Annual Sales
$7 million

With the consumption of oil and gas in the United States showing no signs of flagging, companies working in those energy sectors continue to flock to newly discovered underground reserves across the country, working as fast as they can to extract and distribute the precious fuels. Contracting Engineering Consultants, Inc. (CEC), a structural and miscellaneous steel fabricator with expertise in oil and gas, works closely with these companies, and it often lands projects by accepting conditions that other contractors don’t want. “Our niche in that market,” general manager Mark Aurand says, “comes from our ability to cater to our customers’ needs.”

Drawing gas and oil from underground pockets isn’t simple. Drilling is the first step, and it’s so involved that it’s practically an industry unto itself. “[Companies] go down thousands of feet, fracking to get the compressed gas that’s down there,” Aurand says. When the gas or oil field is finally reached, miles of piping is laid to bring it to the surface, and once it’s above ground, it goes into compressors. CEC fabricates the steel for the stations that house these compressors and for the platforms that surround the compressor stations. “We supply the structural steel for the buildings, the platform steel, and the rails they need to work around all of their equipment,” Aurand says. “We also supply the pipe hold-downs and adjustable pipe supports.”

Top 5 Steel Products from Contracting Engineering Consultants

1. Pipe hold-down clamps, complete with a base plate and chocks, hold pipes in place in compressor stations.

2. Pipe supports, both adjustable and in-place, with FPR flaties and other pipe-support options, are available as required by design plans.

3. Steel stair stringers of all shapes and sizes, made from different materials, are available in poured-pan, plate, or grating treads.

4. Handrails, made of steel and nonferrous metals, come in a range of sizes and shapes; other infill panels and other specialized configurations are also available.

5. Girder slabs are hybrids, combining precast slabs with steel girders to form composite, monolithic structural-slab assemblies.

The team works regularly with almost a dozen general contractors, each of which focuses on these crucial compressor stations. A contractor coordinates with CEC to determine how much and what types of steel will be needed for a project, and once CEC has developed its bid and outlined the necessary components and materials, the contractor uses that information to make its own bid in order to land the job. “The different general contractors come to us to get a bid on all the steel,” Aurand says. “All the pipe hold-downs, clamps, anchor bolts—anything that’s steel that they’ll need for that site.”

Most steel fabricators don’t have the resources to meet the short time frames that the oil and gas industries often require. “A lot of the jobs we get, they need right away,” Aurand says, so flexibility has been the key to CEC’s success. The company knows that by taking on requests with near-impossible deadlines, it is also improving its likelihood of landing the projects with more standard timetables. “It gives us an extra advantage when the economy swings or changes,” Aurand says.

Most of the products CEC fabricates are galvanized, and some, such as the pipe hold-down clamps, which range in size from four to 42 inches in diameter, are made by few other fabricators—most of whom can’t meet CEC’s prices. Its yet another area in which the company’s expertise sets it apart. “That’s probably one of the big things that has helped us in the marketplace,” Aurand says.

CEC also excels at steel fabrication for the commercial and education sectors, among others, but it’s the company’s approach in the financially robust oil and gas markets that has helped CEC weather the recession with little to no reduction in business.

Because of that, regardless of what the economic climate might be, the company is sure to continue with a strong future. ABQ

CEC’s specialty is the design of steel support structures for oil and gas compressor stations, including this one for Exterran.