They must be doing something right at C&C Industries. Well, actually a whole lot more than something. In just the two years since we last sat down for an interview with C&C executives, the company has increased their annual sales by nearly 150%.
“C&C has experienced double-digit growth year after year,” said President Dale Lutz. “And our growth and expansion over the last few years has been exponential. We’re all very excited about what’s happening right now at C&C.”
A couple of major developments have gone hand-in-hand with C&C’s significant sales growth:
• More than doubling the square footage of their Houston warehouse to more in excess of 100,000 square feet
• Increasing inventory by 30%, now greater than $50 million at any given time.
“These two things alone are indicative of the exponential growth we’ve experienced,” said Lutz. “We’ve been very blessed to have amassed all of this with only 35 employees — but they are 35 of the most loyal and dedicated employees, I might add. They really rose to the occasion and even exceeded our own expectations.
“Each member of our team is imperative to our company as a whole, from our first hire Pedro Meza, who has been with our warehouse for over 15 years, to Director of Business Development Melissa Salapack-Darcey, who was hired about three months ago. We look at C&C similar to that of a structurally sound building. Each component — employee — is critical in the overall integrity of the building.”
Another reason behind C&C’s tremendous growth and ability to navigate through changing market conditions is that it serves a range of industries. They have gone far beyond what had long been their primary involvement in oil & gas piping applications to take advantage of opportunities in the mining, HVAC, chemical and fire protection industries.
Product development continues to be one of the core focuses at C&C, and last year they added three new lines:
• 6,000-psi CS Threaded Ball Valves
• Seamless Pipe Nipples
• Grooved Pipe Couplings.
They have also expanded existing lines by filling in gaps and adding additional sizes, materials and pressure classes.
The Houston Distribution Center is a constant blur of activity, with between 50 and 60 containers of product received through its loading docks every month — and nearly the same amount being shipped out to customers. Their Will Call Counter does a large volume of business with customers in the booming Greater Houston area who appreciate the convenience.
Reinvesting in product testing equipment has also been a priority, adding another test stand for their Force™ Flanged Ball Valve line.
“This supplementary stand more than doubles our pressure testing capacity,” Lutz explained. “At C&C, we test every Force™ Valve before it ships to our customer. This gives reassurance to our customers that Force™ Valves are ready for service.”
When it comes to value-added services, while Lutz described C&C’s offering of MTO items and special modifications as on “a somewhat small scale,” he went on to add, “But stay tuned! I see our company one day becoming a full-service one-stop shop for full-blown modifications and actuation capabilities.”
They are also stepping up their efforts on becoming an AML-approved brand across the board with their products.
“In the past we gained approvals and landed on some AMLs strictly through word of mouth,” Lutz said. “Our approvals were mainly seen with small to mid-size oil & gas companies, and some well-known chemical companies. We see getting broad approval as a key component in the continual growth of our business.”
Investment in the future
It’s been a challenging start to 2015 for the oil & gas industry, with uncertainty over pipeline and refinery issues and pricing per barrel. Some customers have had to curtail their purchases because of budget cuts and the pressure to reduce inventories. However, C&C has minimized the impact on their business by offering same-day shipping from their vast product lines of in-stock inventory.
“Customers have always been able to depend on C&C for quality and service,” Lutz noted. “We have taken ‘just in time’ to a whole a new level. We are able to help customers in times like this by increasing our inventory and offering product diversity. It gives C&C customers the ability to consolidate their purchases and still have the products they need when they need them most.
“The benchmark of C&C is competitive prices, quick service and ample inventory. Our business strategy addresses all of the issues our customers are faced with this year. Overall it’s going to be a tricky year to navigate through. Some segments will be down tremendously, while other segments such as petrochemical, HVAC and mining will be strong. Oil & gas will definitely feel pressure this year. However, we are expecting to see some turnaround for that sector after the first half of the year. Whatever the year brings, C&C will finish strong by being flexible, diversified and adapt to the market as it presents new trends, challenges and opportunities.”
The team at C&C is bullish on the outlook of the company, particularly thanks to the additional resources now available to them through their acquisition last year by Eriks.
“The process of selling your company is not for the faint of heart,” Lutz described. “The due diligence process seems never ending. When we initially thought about selling we knew one thing for certain — we wanted the new owners to continue what we started. We wanted them to take C&C to the next level. Eriks, for us, was the most compelling candidate.
“In the beginning we spoke at length with a lot of former business owners that Eriks had acquired. The interesting thing, to me, was that all of those previous owners stayed on board with Eriks well past the point of their formal obligations. Every single one of them shared a vision of where they want to take the valve companies they already owned and aggressively seek out other valve companies to acquire.”
And that has certainly been the case at C&C.
“We still run C&C the same way we have for the past 15 years,” Lutz said. “Granted, we have a few more meetings than before [said tongue in cheek]. However, our day-to-day business operations remain virtually the same. Since the acquisition, we have been integrating our business with other Eriks-owned valve and actuation companies. What will emerge from this acquisition will be a bigger, more powerful, version of what we started over 15 years ago. There will be added benefits to offer our customers, along with more products and services.”
While operations currently are all handled through the Houston DC, to capitalize on their expertise and momentum, C&C plans to open three or four strategically located Distribution Centers around the U.S. in the near term.
“We will soon be able to service our customers around the world with local inventories,” said Lutz. “I’m looking forward to being a part of something big. It’s exciting having the ability and resources to grow this company into a Mega Valve Center, distributing Eriks brand valves from one location — then, duplicating this model on a global scale. Over the coming years, the industry will see a new and very international valve company emerge because of this. Stay tuned!”
For additional information, visit www.candcvalve.com