At 80 years old, COOPER is one of the pre-eminent names in valves with a long history of serving the downstream and mid-stream chemical, petrochemical, oil & gas, water and refining industries. Its leaders are passionate about building on that history and the future of the brand. They are focused on revitalizing COOPER through growth and expansion, which is evidenced in part by their acquisition of Accuseal in 2013. That acquisition enabled COOPER to reach new applications including mining and power.
COOPER initially was recognized for its innovation in developing a unique technique to pour 304 stainless steel. In the ensuing decades at its U.S. manufacturing facilities, the company has used a combination of advanced design engineering, quality control and metallurgical science expertise to add a number of exotic alloys to its product portfolio.
“The founders and early leaders of the COOPER brand consistently kept quality their top priority while maintaining a consistent material offering which created a level of expertise that our customers depend on,” said Ginger Restovic, a COOPER veteran who now handles Strategic Business Development. “We are actively improving upon our valve designs as one of our core competencies. Not only are our products going to continue to evolve, but we’re creating a better service infrastructure to maintain the large number of valves we have in service.”
They now offer valves in metals that include:
“As a company growing globally, we have our hands in a variety of markets,” said Sales & Marketing Specialist Ian Adler. “We are currently focused on chemical, petrochemical, refining, power generation and mining markets. The applications vary by product, but typically we are interested in all critical and severe service applications due to the performance capabilities of our valve lines."
As Restovic noted, “I believe we’re perceived as a manufacturer of dependable valves designed for tough applications. Most people know we manufacture gate, globe, check and soft-seated ball valves, but the market is still being educated on our Accuseal® metal-seated ball valve offering. Our Gate, Globe, Check and Soft seated ball valve materials begin at 316SS and go up through high nickel alloys and noble metals. Our Accuseal® MSBV product line is available in a full range of materials from Carbon through Chrome and Nickel alloys into noble alloys such as Titanium and Zirconium.
"The acquisition of Accuseal®, our metal seated ball valve line, has enabled COOPER Valves to provide industry leading products to a wider range of users. The Accuseal® product line allows us to manufacture valves for power generation and mining industries, as well as augmenting our refining and chemical offering, that meet our industry recognized quality standards."
With a motto of “Quality Without Compromise,” COOPER has continually refined its processes and patterns while increasing foundry technology to produce the highest quality cast and forged valves because they are committed to the impact they have on their end users, community and environment.
At its headquarters near Houston, COOPER has a 60,000-square-foot facility with 48,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 60 employees. They offer full machining, lapping and service capabilities. “At this time, we are principally focused on critical finish processing, assembly and test with growing machining capabilities,” shared President Doug Jones. “We intend to consistently increase the internal machining capacities while always looking for ways to improve our processing operations.”
The company also operates valve service centers for its Accuseal brand in Paramount and Benicia, Calif.
“In addition to the inventory of high-volume products we keep here in Stafford, we work with a network of distributors to stock our products in regional markets,” said Adler.
Jones added, “We have agents and distribution around the world and are looking to further expand our global reach into emerging markets. We have opened sales operations in China that have yielded substantial immediate results.”
COOPER has been owned by Platform Management since 2011. The organization is committed to sourcing materials from conflict-free zones around the world; in fact, suppliers are required to confirm that to do business with COOPER.
In the past three years, COOPER has grown three-fold, according to Jones.
“Since purchasing COOPER Valves back from Cameron in late 2011 our growth has been tremendous,” he revealed. “The first year of operation under the new ownership, COOPER grew over 400%. In year two we moved from a 10,000-square-foot facility with remote offices to a 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility with 12,000 square feet of offices enabling us to better manage the production.
“We pride ourselves on having a family atmosphere throughout the organization. We maintain open lines of communication between our departments, which improves throughput. Additionally, our products tend to be special and naturally appealing to niche markets. As such, our efforts need to be strategic which requires involvement of many employees.”
COOPER conducts regular training sessions to best educate its team to meet the wide variety of needs of its customers.
“In order to grow a team of valve experts we conduct internal training where participants are asked to become subject matter experts and share their knowledge with their peers,” said Adler. “These internal classes are on various topics including valve types, applications, industry standards, and other topics of interest. This method helps both the teacher and their peers become well-rounded.
“We train our people to be able to listen to the customers’ application challenges in order to help provide an optimal solution. They take that information and, with our Engineering department’s help, become a consultant for the customer in developing the right choice for the application.”
And those efforts have paid off.
“Most of the positive feedback we receive is related to our responsiveness,” said Restovic. “This means at the point of sale, generating engineered solutions and after-the-sale service. We recognize that we serve a special segment of the market and it is our goal to make them feel special.”
Building trust and relationships is crucial to any business — and it’s a primary focus at COOPER.
“It’s very important for us to have good relationships with people in the industries we work in,” noted Adler. “We try to make ourselves as available as possible to these people and develop a level of trust with them. A lot of our relationships are built throughout the course of doing business. We do however believe that being involved within the industrial community is also very important to developing lasting relationships.
“We work with distributors who, in turn, work with the end user of our valves. Knowing this, we make every effort possible to supply our distribution channels with timely and accurate information to ensure the entire process from quotation to installation is a smooth one.”
The PVF Roundtable has been a significant vehicle for COOPER for business and networking, and Restovic is a long-time member of the Board of Directors.
“Not only has this organization brought great networking opportunities and long lasting friendships and relationships, thru its non-profit efforts we are also able to give back to the community that we love so much,” she said. “As I near retirement, I see my role changing to more of a mentoring role. PVF Roundtable members recognized a few years ago that our industry as a whole was graying and it would not be good for our collective industry or businesses if there were no educated, young, enthusiastic people to take our places as we retire. So I have stayed involved in order to participate in the fund raising efforts the PVF Roundtable has to raise funds for education. Through the generosity of our members, we have been quite successful in raising funds for Industrial Distribution and Industrial Engineering programs. This year we added the ‘trades’ to the list, as there is a great need for highly skilled labor to keep this industry moving forward here in the Gulf Coast region.”
COOPER has also gone to some creative — and memorable — means to reach out to customers. One of those was a special edition shipment of Blue Wheel Merlot they consigned last year.
“Our marketing department was looking for creative ways to thank customers for their business outside of sending thank you cards or traditional gifts,” said Adler. “There were several different names and label designs thrown around but the Blue Wheel struck a chord with the COOPER brand since we’re traditionally identified by our blue handwheels.
“We’ve also got some exciting new projects in the works. We’ve been looking, from a marketing standpoint, at improving the ways our customers interact with the COOPER brand. We are launching a new website in Q1 and starting to conduct webinars to educate the distribution network and the end users about our products.”
In looking ahead, COOPER executives are optimistic about the market and the company’s opportunities.
“We see continued growth in the PVF market, especially abroad in developing and rapidly growing markets like China and India,” shared Jones. “North America should continue to see its steady share of growth, typical with the past two to three years. We don’t believe the lower oil prices will have a dramatic impact on our business because we mostly see downstream and some midstream uses for our products and for the most part there isn’t expected to be a tremendous slowdown in these areas.”