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It was only natural for Kelly’s national footprint to include a sizeable operation on the East Coast. With higher populations and a wider variety of industry, Kelly understandably chose to upgrade its existing business operations in this vital area. Lowe points out “We’re centrally located to the Northeast corridor and thereby able to serve the New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia areas. There’s a lot of infrastructure out here that’s aging rapidly, which presumably will be changed over the coming years. This opportunity enabled Kelly to establish an energetic sales office focused on growing business in the Northeast corridor. As is well known, Kelly Pipe’s original focus was on the West Coast. Today, the company has 26 full-service branches and sales offices in the U.S., as well as several foreign countries.
In the following narrative, Lowe describes highlights of the new sales office in Newtown, Pa.
• Please give us some background into this new Kelly Pipe sales office location— when it was founded, ownership, product mix, etc?
Kelly Pipe appointed me the Northeast Area Manager in May of 2014, and tasked me with moving his family from Las Vegas to the Philadelphia area to build a solid sales team to cover the Northeast territory. The goal was to build sustainable growth through relationships, service and a depth of inventory. Our distribution center has been located in Fairless Hills. Pa., for about six years, was started with two warehouse employees and has grown significantly over the years. We opened Kelly Pipe’s new Northeast sales office in October 2014 and started recruiting sales staff from other Kelly locations and around the industry.
• Do you have any interesting/unique stories you can share from the company’s/this location’s early days?
Tyler Light is part of our young enthusiastic sales team and had been handling Northeast accounts from our Charlotte, N.C., office. We convinced him to move from the nice weather in the Southeast with the promise that it only snows a little bit in Philadelphia during the winter.
• What can you tell us about your headquarters location — size of facility, including training, and warehouse?
Kelly Pipe is headquartered in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., on 23 acres. Stocking locations include over a million square feet for storage, fabrication and offices corporate wide. The company has proudly been in business for 117 years this year. Kelly Pipe has extensive pipe training programs and a prominent management training program that ensure our people are well versed in our products and markets as well as business operations.
• What have been some key opportunities for growth/change throughout the company’s history?
We initially focused our attention on making improvements at the Fairless Hills distribution center. A full line of processing and fabrication equipment was installed to provide value added services to our customers. These included a roll grooving line from 2" through 16"’ pipe with AGS grooving capabilities for 14" and 16" pipe, a saw-cutting line up to 18" pipe and improved plasma cutting to cut 2" through 48" pipe. We also put in a threading line to thread 1/2" through 4" pipe. We have added a pipe cleaning and reconditioning line to ensure only quality products are leaving our facility. Such changes, along with the new sales office center, have generated substantial year on year growth.
• Talk about the broad range of products you offer, and approximately how your sales are divided between product categories.
Our main product group is carbon steel pipe, in domestic and imported, welded and seamless pipe with value added processing of cutting, grooving and threading of our products. We are also stocking galvanized pipe in welded and seamless up to 16". Line pipe for large projects as well as various types of coated pipe. Our sales are divided between domestic and import products with 70% import and 30% domestic.
• Territory you serve, and range of customers?
We handle from Washington, D.C., north to Maine, Eastern Pennsylvania and Eastern New York, and Northeastern Canada.
• Who are some of the key members of the management team, their backgrounds and responsibilities?
Our Eastern Region Vice President is Cullen King, who has been in the steel pipe business for over 40 years, I serve as Northeast Area Manager, Mike Hoch is our Operations Manager at the Fairless Hills distribution center, Tyler Light oversees inside sales and Art Downing handles outside sales.
• How many employees do you currently have?
We currently have 11 employees and are adding more positions as we grow.
• Any idea on the average time of service employees have put in; and the expertise they offer your customers?
I have worked in steel industries for over 20 years in machining, fabrication, sales and business management, Arthur Downing the newest member of the sales team has an incredible knowledge of the PVF industry and has been working in the Philadelphia area for over 26 years.
• What have been some of the more recent key initiatives that have led to expansion/greater success in the Northeast?
The opening of a sales office and assembling a top-notch sales team gives us the ability to be more in touch with the local market along with ongoing projects. Coupled with this nearby marketing approach has been development of the value added services I already mentioned, along with a much broader inventory assortment.
• What types of strategies are you employing to improve efficiencies and functionality?
A more robust quality control function, greater reliance on Kelly’s advanced IT system, and improved coordination with the region’s purchasing operations.
• What sets you apart from your competition?
Quality, service and just-in-time inventory of over 10,000 tons of domestic & import ERW and domestic and import seamless. We are especially pleased that Fairless operates proficiently as a local branch as well as a DC. Complementing this structure is the integrity and strong relationships we have with our customers and vendors, which is the key to a viable business.
• Biggest challenges and opportunities ahead?
Excess product supply brought on by an unprecedented drop ion oil rig activity, and pipe prices continuing to erode at an alarming pace. A second challenge is finding quality people to help us keep up with the growth and opportunities we have in this area.
• What are you anticipating when it comes to market conditions over the course of the coming year or two?
There is a lot of building going on in the northeast at the moment and we hope to continue to capitalize on that through our inventory, service and experienced sales staff.
I came away from my conversation with a strong impression of Jereme Lowe’s belief that ambition and drive are the building blocks of success, and this team certainly has both components. “We’re committed to building strong, lasting relationships with the businesses in this area and we want to provide a good quality product and service. And we enjoy doing it,” continued Lowe on what makes his team work.
“We’re a young team. Everyone’s really ambitious and likes coming to work everyday and is really excited to grow the business and grow a future for themselves and the company.”
Looking from the outside in, one sees a group of capable and seasoned professionals taking Kelly Pipe to new successes. With the East Coast’s vibrant and ever-expanding market, Lowe and his team have undoubtedly cemented themselves as the industry’s premier movers and shakers. 2
To learn more about Kelly Pipe, visit www.kellypipe.com