Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Business finds niche in drilling industry

by on May 26, 2013 3:00 AM

CLARKSBURG — Power ends, cement plugs, D-rings, O-rings, spider and suction valves — who needs them?

The oil and gas drilling industry does, and Twin Pines Manufacturing in Clarksburg is catering to that niche market.

Bob Kovalchik, owner and president of Twin Pines, saw an opportunity when the oil and gas drilling industry made its way to western Pennsylvania about five years ago and jumped on it. Now, his business profits have quadrupled, he says, by manufacturing hydrofracking machinery parts for all of Pennsylvania and most of Ohio.

Kovalchik got the idea to start producing these products after he learned through fracking and drilling workers that there was a need for a provider of specific hydrofracking-machinery parts in the area. At that point, his target niche, the automotive industry, was slowing down. When the opportunity arose to get involved with the oil and gas drilling industry, he decided that “if it’s made out of metal and needs a machine, that’s what we do.” Thus, the start of a new future for Twin Pines.

Kovalchik was aware of the challenges involved to be a key player in the industry, and he changed his manufacturing and business tactics accordingly.

“In order to be competitive in this business,” Kovalchik said, “I knew I had to get CNC machines” as well as other computer-based machines to create products more efficiently. A CNC machine is used for computer-aided design and manufacturing.

He bought four used CNC machines, started producing parts faster, and from there, he said, business took off. Last year, Twin Pines replaced the used machines with brand new CNC machines, and they’re producing product even faster. By the end of this year, he said, the machines will have paid for themselves because of the amount of product Twin Pines will have been able to produce and sell.

One specific product that Kovalchik calls Twin Pines’ “little invention” is a rubber hammer union seal that he provides to fracking companies. That part is one third of the cost of the product those companies are using now, and they’re saving shipping costs by purchasing the product from a local provider.

Right now, Kovalchik said, industry businesses are used to getting their parts from Texas. When companies need to ship heavy parts such as the ones Twin Pines creates, it gets expensive.

In addition to designing and manufacturing the parts himself, Kovalchik personally delivers them to the companies he sells them to.

“I go out and do the deliveries, because when I deliver I get in there and know what we can do,” Kovalchik said. “I see something new, something we can do that we’re not doing for them already.”

To cater to companies’ needs, Twin Pines manufactures products specifically designed for their machines by providing drawings of the product before it’s produced.

“It’s a lot of machine shop work,” Kovalchik said, noting that most products that Twin Pines manufactures are created in-house.

Nabors Industries, Halliburton, Appalachian Drilling Services, Baker Hughes and Pumpco Energy Services are just some of the companies that Twin Pines is already supplying its products to. One of the biggest drilling companies in the world, Schlumberger Drilling Services, Kovalchik said, is in the process of getting corporate approval for Twin Pines to supply their products to them.

“We’re pretty much tied in with the biggest players in the game,” he said.

Kovalchik also plans to become the No. 1 provider of cement plugs, a product Twin Pines is already providing, but currently at a low volume. By being the only company that makes a rubber 16-inch plug, they’re helping companies in need of the product save on cost. Other companies producing 16-inch plugs now are producing them with wooden or aluminum cores.

Though the company has always been in the business of repairing fluid ends, a component of hydrofracking machinery, they will also be implementing the repair of power ends from here on out, Kovalchik said.

The plans for the manufacturing company don’t stop there, however. Kovalchik has intentions of expanding his business even further to target the industry.

“Here in the future we’re hoping to get to the level where we’re making thousands of parts,” Kovalchik said.

PHOTO: Bob Kovalchik, owner of Twin Pines Manufacturing in Clarksburg, added a newly machined valve to the stack.
It was made on the CNC machine behind him.



Ellen Matis is the digital media coordinator and a staff writer at The Indiana Gazette. She is the person behind the Gazette's social media. A 2012 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ellen has a degree in journalism and public relations. Follow her on Twitter, @EllenMatis, or email her at ematis@indianagazette.net.
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