Future looks bright with Komatsu's productive equipment and responsive dealer support
When it comes to providing services to industrial clients — specifically the chemical, petrochemical, refining, energy, power-generation and paper industries — it would probably be easier to list what Turner Industries Group doesn’t do, rather than what it does.
Here is how Turner Chairman and CEO Roland M. Toups puts it. “From heavy-duty construction, maintenance, pipe fabrication and scaffolding, to employee placement and outsourcing, we’re proud to say, ‘Yes, we do that.’ Our goal is to provide clients with services that will allow them to be the best and to deliver results that will have a bottom-line impact.”
With four divisions — Construction; Maintenance & Turnarounds; Pipe Fabrication; and Equipment and Specialty Services — as well as Turner Specialty Services and Turner Industrial Maintenance, Baton Rouge, La.-based Turner Industries has an annual presence on ENR’s list of Top 400 Contractors. It is typically No. 1 in maintenance contracting and a perennial top 10 in petroleum contracting.
Founded in 1961 by Bert Turner, Turner Industries has grown tremendously through the years. Today, the family-owned firm has a worldwide work force of about 15,000 employees. In addition to its headquarters in Baton Rouge, it has facilities in Port Allen, Sulphur and New Orleans, La; Houston, Beaumont, Corpus Christi and Paris, Texas; and Decatur, Ala.
Turner Specialty Services is a good example of why Turner Industries has been such a success through the years. It fills in any gaps for services that industrial clients may need that aren’t covered by the construction, maintenance and fabrication divisions. In part because of its specialty services division, Turner Industries confidently claims to deliver more services to more companies in more industries than any other industrial contractor in the world.
In addition to providing industrial services such as vacuum work, water blasting and bundle extracting, Turner Specialty Services also has an environmental group that performs landfill construction and maintenance, site work and dewatering projects.
“Our site work is different from a typical earthmoving contractor,” said Turner Specialty Services Project Control Manager Brad Buller. “We don’t do subdivisions or commercial properties. Just like our other divisions, the vast majority of our work is for industrial plants. For example, a plant may want to expand and to do that, it may need some site work. If so, we’re the Turner division that does it.
“Most of our landfill work is also plant-related,” he noted. “Virtually every plant generates a waste byproduct of some kind that has to be disposed of. Our Specialty Services company knows how to deal with the nonhazardous waste that plants create. We build landfills, holding ponds or whatever else might be needed. We also maintain the sites for them if that’s what they want.”
A “bottom-line” mentality
Buller says Specialty Services’ goal is the same as that of the Construction and Maintenance divisions.
“Every division of Turner Industries and every individual who works here is bottom-line oriented. When we’re on a job, our one and only purpose is to deliver a final project that will enable the client to be more efficient, more productive and more profitable. Ultimately, the only way we can be successful is if our clients are successful, so we want to do everything in our power to help them succeed.”
Key people at Turner Specialty Services, in addition to Buller, include Vice President Thad Foreman; Project Managers Barry Barker and Trent Lasseigne; Superintendents Barry Smith and Chad Miller; and Equipment Manager Luke Rettig.
While the division has traveled extensively for jobs, the vast majority of its work is in Arkansas and the Gulf Coast region of Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. “When we do travel, it’s generally for customers who were transferred somewhere else to run a plant,” said Buller. “They want us because they know we’re going to do their complicated job right, and get it done fast. We live on repeat clients. We have to. There are only so many refineries, chemical plants and paper mills out there. It’s important for us to keep them happy so they keep calling us back.”
Most of Turner Industries’ jobs are large — some very large. The company is one of two mechanical contractors working at the Marathon Refinery expansion in Garyville, a project often described as the largest in Louisiana in many years. At the height of the job, Turner Industries had close to 2,000 employees working at the site.
Turner has also recently worked as general contractor for a major expansion at Trunkline LNG in Lake Charles and rebuilt a furnace at the Dow Plaquemine site. It is currently heavily involved on a project for ExxonMobil in Wyoming. The Turner crew at the Wyoming job is pouring concrete, installing more than five miles of pipe and setting 22 modules, including one that’s 113 feet tall and weighs 350,000 pounds. That and 11 other modules for the facility are being fabricated by Turner Industries in Port Allen, La., and are being transported to Wyoming in one piece.
Many Turner jobs turn into award-winning projects. In 2008, Turner won several Excellence in Construction awards from Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), including top honors for its work at Shell Chemical’s Norco, La., plant.
Quality equipment and dealer support
Because Turner Specialty Services does most of the dirt work that Turner Industries requires, the division is also the equipment arm of the company. Its fleet includes several Komatsu hydraulic excavators and half a dozen or so Komatsu dozers from H&E Equipment Services in Baton Rouge.
“We really like Komatsu excavators,” confirmed Buller. “We have a new PC300, a PC200 with a 50-foot-long reach and a compact excavator. We’ve had excellent histories with Komatsu excavators, which are productive, reliable and last a long time. We also like our Komatsu dozers, which range from a D41 to a D65. Our operators’ favorite dozer is the new Komatsu D51. They all fight to get on the D51 because of comfort and performance. To a man, they’re impressed by the machine’s power-to-size ratio and how much work they can accomplish with it.”
While praising the equipment, Buller says the most important thing to him and Turner is the support they get from H&E Equipment Services in Baton Rouge.
“H&E’s service exceeds anybody else we’ve dealt with,” Buller asserted. “Our H&E Sales Representative, Jeff Stringer, is a straight shooter who always gets right back to me when I call. I have Service Manager Jeff Creasy on speed dial and I trust him and H&E to keep us up and running. That includes other pieces as well as Komatsu. If we have a big-ticket item to take care of — say an undercarriage — we price it out to all the dealers. H&E gets a lot of that work, even on competitive machines, because they usually give us the best price and we know the work is going to be topnotch.”
Delivering value to clients
Despite a challenging year for construction, Turner Industries’ work load has held up well in 2009, following a record 2008 when sales volume hit an all-time high of $1.7 billion. In his annual message to employees reviewing 2008, Vice Chairman and COO Thomas H. Turner had this to say. “As we look to the future, it appears to be bright, even in light of these uncertain economic times. Our sector of the market continues to be strong overall.”
For Buller and other employees, working for Turner Industries is a source of pride. “It makes me feel good to work for a highly respected company that is one of the leaders in its field,” Buller reflected. “But it’s what Turner Industries stands for that makes it a special place to work.
“Although we’ve become very large, Turner Industries still operates as the family-owned company it is. Here at headquarters, if the CEO passes you in the hall, he’ll call you by name and stop to talk to you. That kind of personable, conservative, down-to-earth leadership is very special and I think it rubs off on everybody who works here. As a result, we treat our customers the same way. As long as we continue to deliver value to our clients and do it with the Turner attitude of friendliness and partnership, I think we’ll continue to grow and continue to be one of the leading industrial-service providers in the nation.”