North American Chrome & Alloy
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North American Chrome & Alloy (NACA) co-founder Jim Scott likes to describe the industrial supply firm as an American dream - one that started with an idea to provide industrial clients with quality specialty pipe and fittings from stock in chrome, carbon, stainless, low-temp and alloy. Since that idea hatched back in the early 1990ís, Scott and CEO Sherilyn Godkin have turned that dream into a 54,000 square-foot operation in Kingwood, Texas.
The certified woman-owned business provides services to the refining, power generation, petrochemical and construction sectors. Today, itís customer base consists of industry giants including ExxonMobil. On Quest, ABB Lummus, Marathon, Valero, KTI, Sinclair and others. Products include valves, industrial pipe, flanges, fittings, sheet and plate in carbon, low-temperature, stainless steel, chrome and alloys. In addition to its fabrication capabilities, the company provides 24-hour services.
"By early 1998, we had already grown out of our home office and took a lease of an 8,000 square-foot office and warehouse," Godkin explains. Using a handful of key vendors, the company began stockpiling fittings in various grades, and with those select items, began catering to the gas-fired heater industries both domestic and foreign. By this time, Godkin and Scott had a combined 46 years experience in the industrial pipe and fittings business, which helped guide them during this growing period.
At the suggestion of a friend, Godkin looked into becoming a woman-owned business. "It was something that we hadnít really thought about, and really didnít know how it could help us in this industry, " she notes.
After researching the benefits through resources such as the Womenís Business Enterprise Alliance of Texas, NACA saw the potential to grow the business after realizing several companies were utilizing such programs to diversify their procurement process. In 2003, the firm became a certified women-owned business, further growing itís list of clientele.
By 2005, NACA was in a position to grow once again, and purchased a 54,000 square-foot office and warehouse, along with additional land for further expansion.
Approximately 10,000 square feet of space was dedicated to stocking its products, including WPB, WPL-3, P-9, P-11, P-22, P-5, P-91, 304-H, 321-H and 347-H; 2" through 10" LR and SR 180-degree return bends and 90-degree elbows.
In March of 2008, NACA constructed a new pipe storage facility for a full line of pipe to match its stock fittings, which range from 1/2" to 10" in diameter and a full line of weld caps in chrome from 4" to 12" with STD wall and s/160. Additionally, next year NACA hopes to increase its presence in the chemical refinery market. Scott says, in the future, the company hopes to expand the business by adding a larger fabrication shop to give it a competitive edge in the pipe and fittings business.
Servicing the gas-fired heater components for large companies requires NACA to stay on its toes, which it does by providing 24-hour emergency service and by keeping a large inventory. "Service is the No.1 thing we sell." Scott notes.
With an inventory that reaches into the seven-figure range, NACA is able to service the clients quickly and save them millions of dollars in downtime.
Material and inventory costs are the greatest challenges NACA must deal with daily. With the help of JPMorgan Chase, it handles large or small orders from domestic and European mills. "With our vendors, we are in a unique position to be able to offer fast turnaround time on one fitting or a full bill of material." Godkin says.
Another challenge is the fluctuating material costs and delivery schedules. "Not only have we had as much as a 100 percent increase in prices from our pipe and fitting mills, but we have seen the manufacturing of some of our pipe product go from two months delivery to a six-to 12-month delivery schedule," Scott says. NACA is proactively managing this process by utilizing a proprietary software program to track orders and costs and manage inventory.
"We are very proud of the position that we are in today and we work in close cooperation with our customers and our vendors to make sure their needs are met," Godkin asserts. "It has been an interesting and exciting 13 years. I can only imagine what the next 13 will bring."