Our 2013 trip to Ohio

July 2013

While we have been to thousands of chemical and other manufacturing sites we have never had the opportunity to visit shale gas areas. When our friend Joe Barone at www.shaledirectories.com invited us out to see developments in the Utica shale area we couldn’t resist.

Zanesville Ohio – hot spot of the Utica, located on I-70 between Columbus OH and Wheeling VW was our destination. Our first impressions, driving late at night through Ohio were of typical rust belt decay. The hotel was fully booked at big city prices, they told us they were sold out for the last 3 months. With no cell coverage for the obligatory call home, we wandered out into the parking lot. There we had company with the same mission. One difference was the accent was a friendly Texas-Louisiana drawl. We knew we had come to the right area and why the hotel was booked.  

In the morning we attended a meeting at local country club hosted by midstream company, Crosstex and the local Chamber of Commerce. Crosstex was looking to encourage local suppliers, present at the meeting were local companies from janitorial services, to trucking, to welding, to catering and everything in between. It seems that shale gas business needed more of everything, and needed it local.

On the drive to and from the meeting we stopped outside several shale industry sites looked just like the pictures you see on the internet, neat, organized, focused. 

In subsequent meetings over the next two days with Midstream, Drillers, Producers, Chamber of Commerce officials several points became clear. Shale gas development is a major boom to the local economy, local suppliers in every possible category are in demand. There is a great spirit of cooperation between the local Chambers of Commerce and the shale industry to help local suppliers. The biggest issue with suppliers is adherence to the strict and non-negotiable safety rules and ability to supply 24-7-365 as those are the hours of the shale industry. Smart people who are reliable and drug free are in high demand.

In unfiltered discussions, not the PR or investor messages, individuals in the shale industry were all surprisingly upbeat. The message was loud and clear, we are just at the beginning of the shale gas revolution, and better days are ahead. In every discussion we heard stories of increased efficiencies, better yields, and productivity improvements. 

Our chemical industry renaissance and manufacturing revival was outside the scope of most of whom that we talked to. It was however well received and a reward to the U.S. for their pioneering work. Members of the local Chambers of Commerce were very interested in the message as this area of Ohio was and is a center of plastics processing excellence supporting the automotive and other OEMs. We expect future dialogue with the state of Ohio and their initiatives. 

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