MINGO JUNCTION - Pig launchers, prefab pipe spools and process skids aren't the stuff dreams are made of.
Unless, of course, you happen to be the guy who makes them, some of your best customers are, literally, on your doorstep and you realize there's money - a lot of money - to be made supplying them.
"I've said more than once if we had more building space, it would really help," Cryogenic Construction founder Mark Bordash said. "We're just trying to figure out what our next step is and how we make our move."
PORTMAN VISIT — Cryogenic Construction founder Mark Bordash, left, listens as U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, with his back to the camera, chats with an employee on a production line at the Mingo Junction plant. - Linda Harris
Cryogenics, located on county Road 74, fabricates and repairs the cryogenic chemical and natural gas piping systems needed to make liquid nitrogen, oxygen or other gases used in a range of everyday items, like flat screen TVs and cell phones, or even to freeze hamburgers for one of the nation's best known fast food chains. They also make oxygen plant equipment for making glass, fiberglass and steel.
Over the past year they've also developed quite a following in the oil and gas industry, in no small part because of the quality of the work they do.
"We're trying to do what oil and gas work we can fit in between the other stuff we always do," said Bordash, a Toronto native. "We're doing a lot with Dearing, a lot with MarkWest, we're doing some things with Access Midstream. But we're not doing anywhere near the work we could do because we have so many other customers. Trying to find enough hours in the day to take care of everybody has been our problem."
And those other customers have been with Cryogenic from the beginning, "so they get top priority," he said.
"Things are good," he said. "Trying to manage everything is the hard part. We built our business on quality, but trying to keep the quality up where you want it and still get the finished product where you want it is tough. The big thing with the gas industry, everything has to happen
today; you've got to move at warp speed just to keep up."
Less than a year ago Cryogenic completed a 4,000-square-foot addition to its assembly plant, giving the company about 50,000 square feet under roof. What seemed like a lot of space then has filled up rapidly, however, and Bordash is already contemplating another expansion.
Although he can't say much about it, Cryogenic is vying for a major contract. He said the contract is with a traditional industry and would be "a much bigger version of some of the stuff we already do, it's just a really neat thing."
"If we land it, it will be the biggest single thing we've ever taken on," he said. "Depending what happens, it will probably drive us to put another building in."
Bordash, though, said growth can come too fast "and that's not always a good thing."
"Sometimes you can outgrow the things that got you where you're at, and that's not good," he said. "There's a fine line you walk sometimes. I'm just trying to not grow so fast that we lose control of quality. We're hoping to do more but look around you ... we don't have a lot of empty floor space. No matter what we do, we can't seem to grow as fast as we need to to get to where we have enough floor space."
Cryogenic was founded in 1979 by Bordash and a couple friends working from the back of a pickup truck. They moved into their own fabrication shop two years later.
"Thirty-four years ago when we started, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we'd have 50,000 square feet under roof and 40-some employees to keep busy," he said. "That's the thing that amazes me on a daily basis. I never would have dreamed we'd end up here. We've got guys whose kids are working here now. When we started out, we had three men and I thought if we ever got to seven or eight it would be huge."
His own son Matt, a vice president, is one of those second-generation workers. "I can't even describe what it means to me, it's just a really neat thing," he said, adding that a number of his wife's family members also are working there "and they're all really good."
He figures their success has a lot to do with "the quality of what we build, the attention to detail we pay to every customer and the fact that when a customer needs something, there's not 12 layers of people they need to get through to get an answer."
"They know they can pick up a phone and call and get to me, and whatever they need, we can make it happen," he said.