BY MARY JO MARTIN
The owners of C&C Industries consider inventory as good as money in the bank. That’s why they currently stock in excess of $20 million. And with an average of five turns a year and shipping roughly $300,000 of product a day, it’s a worthwhile investment. In fact, president Dale Lutz recently met a potential customer at a regional trade show who gave him a large list of material he was looking for. The customer said he’d give Lutz the $680,000 order if C&C could fill it — and they did, completely from stock.
In less than 15 years, Lutz, his partner K.C. Chin and a team of extremely loyal and talented employees have worked tirelessly building the company — starting in a small 3,000-square-foot warehouse in Houston in 1991, and now in a new 116,000-square-foot facility they moved into earlier this year. Their expertise, product knowledge and business skills are perfectly complemented by their passion and enthusiasm for the business. And beyond that, they simply bring an engaging spirit of fun to relationships they’ve built with their customers, peers and colleagues.
“Our employees run this company and make it work,” said Lutz, “and they do it like they own it. We’re blessed to have 30 of the best people in the industry. Each individual employee brings their own unique edge to sales and customer service. As a whole our employees are fun, personable and eager to please customers. From the sales team to shipping and receiving C&C staffers truly take pride in their work. Whether it’s packaging material with care or sufficiently providing customers with MTRs or technical data, you’ll never hear a groan or complaint from our team. I believe that it’s because each of us here knows what it’s like to be the consumer or the guy on the other end. We all strive to give the type of customer experience that we would like to have.
In addition to the new facility, in recent years C&C has invested in adding more quality control procedures and personnel, product development and pressure test equipment.
“One of the things we’ve started doing with regards to our flanged valve line is testing prior to shipping,” Lutz noted. “We perform low pressure seat tests and high pressure shell tests; this assures our customers and users that these valves are field ready. This protocol is redundant since all our valves are tested at the factory. However, sometimes things can happen during shipping and we want to catch any potential problem before it gets into the field. It is just one of many things we do, but it helps customers have confidence our products are going to perform.”
C&C’s inventory includes a vast offering of mostly commodity products that range from 1/8″ valves and fittings all the way to 12″ 1500-pound flanged ball valves and in pressure classes from 200-psi brass products up to 15,000-psi frac manifolds.
“We partner with over 30 different manufacturing facilities globally on a direct basis,” said vice president of Force Ball Valve marketing, Jerry Brown. “We demand quality products from our partners, and work with them to achieve the goal of manufacturing to our exact requirements. We inspect and test products received as a part of our own in-house QA/QC program. Thus far, we have been blessed with dealing with manufacturers that care as much about quality as we do.”
Expanding its line
C&C continues to add product to their line, most recently a quick-opening brass gate valve and 2″-3″ non-freeze tank valves that Lutz noted have “sold really well in the Rockies and Canada but can be used anywhere the temperatures drop below freezing for a long period of time.” They’ve also expanded the sizes and psi ratings of existing products. Recently, they added 1/4″ through 2″ 6,000-psi ball valves and now offer up to 3″ 15,000-psi plug valves. They are in the process of developing a 4″ 15,000-psi plug valve and 4″ 15,000-psi swivel joint.
“Our primary focus has always been the upstream side of the oil and gas industry and that is our base,” explained Lutz. “However, with our expanding mix we now have products being sold into every sector of the PVF industry; including petro chemical, drilling, fracking, gas processing, pipelines, fire protection, HVAC, commercial construction, wholesale plumbing, irrigation and transportation. I am amazed at the places we see the C&C products being used.”
C&C also excels when it comes to achieving an AML listing and supplying approved product — even though it can be an arduous process.
“It comes down to hard work! PERIOD,” Lutz described. “Getting on major AMLs is the most difficult part of our business. We spend a great deal of time staying in front of decision makers doing whatever we can to find opportunities where we can earn a chance to show our capabilities, our quality and our on-time deliveries.”
Brown added, “Individual customers have their own specific requirements for vendors to be placed on their AML. The process can range from a simple one where they review your QC manual to a full-blown factory audit. Once the customer completes the AML process, they have assured themselves of the product’s integrity.
“Most major oil companies and midstream companies want to know that the product we are supplying meets or exceeds their own specific criteria. Most significant in this category is our Force flanged ball valve offering. Not only does the valve need to meet API 6D/API 607/API 6FA and NACE standards, etc. but often needs to conform to the individual customer’s requirement for trim and/or special testing. We are more than capable of providing these products.”
When asked about the importance of wholesalers to their business, Lutz paused and then sincerely noted, “Without our distributors we are nothing. If you look back over our history, our top 20 accounts have not changed much — maybe their position, but for the most part the list remains the same. To me that shows we are doing our job and taking care of their needs. We know there are many competitors who are fighting for this business.”
To meet the varying needs of customers at home and abroad, C&C engages in a broad range of communication methods. “It takes an all-out approach to build a business to where we are today — trade shows, advertising, salespeople, the Internet,” Lutz commented. “But the very best tool is word-of-mouth coming from our customers.
“Online sales are hard to track, but we know that many of our overseas quotes are being generated by our Web presence and search engines. We are currently working with a firm to improve our website and update information. If you go to our website — www.candcvalve — you can find all of our products listed with some basic information. In the future we hope to have a more interactive site where MTRs will be available, credits apps can be filled out, orders can be placed, and inventory and pricing can be checked.”
While there is still room for improvement in getting the U.S. economy back on track, it’s evident that the hard work put in by the team at C&C is paying off.
“This has been an amazing year for C&C,” Lutz said. “If we didn’t take another order for the rest of the year, 2012 would still be a record year. Having said that, business has leveled off and I believe that it will remain at current levels the rest of this year. The price of oil is high and natural gas is steady — yet many companies are holding what they have in place. Maybe they’re waiting on the election outcome or budgets have been depleted for the year. But overall, I’m pleased to say that 2012 will be a year for the record books.”