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From Oklahoma Economic Development Guide vol2 iss1

Manufacturing Blooms in the Sooner State

by DOUG EATON     

The State of Oklahoma offers great opportunities for manufacturers and many companies of all sizes are taking advantage of the state’s pro-business climate.

Oklahoma’s beneficial location in middle-America, an ample and talented workforce, and the low cost of doing business, highlight the reasons why many manufacturers have selected the Sooner State.

From the middle of the country, any destination in the continental US can be reached within two days by highway or a few hours by air. Oklahoma also has the largest ice-free inland waterway system that ultimately connects to 20 states and the Gulf of Mexico, making it possible to ship to ports around the globe.

Oklahoma also offers some of the lowest costs of doing business in the country as noted by some national business journals. CNBC, in their “America’s Top States for Business” rated Oklahoma No. 9 in the cost of doing business and Forbes, in their “The Best States for Business and Careers” ranking, placed Oklahoma at No. 10 for the best economic business climate among all states. Dozens of businesses are finding success in Oklahoma and these profiles of Silver-Line Plastics, Enviro Systems, Inc., and Kimberly-Clark aren’t outliers of manufacturing success.

Silver-Line Plastics
– Lawton, Oklahoma

Silver-Line Plastics manufactures a broad range of pipe products, including PVC pipe for pressure and non-pressure water applications and for electrical conduit as well as polyethylene (PE) pipe for water/natural gas distribution.

The company opened their Lawton facility in 2001 and it has resulted in a successful partnership with the local community.

“Back in the late ’90s we knew we needed to expand west to meet our market demand and we looked at locations in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma,” says Chuck Walker, vice president of sales and marketing for Silver-Line Plastics. “We decided on Lawton as it was a great place for us.”

The Lawton facility supplies products to the entire Midwest, Southwest and Southern US. Their market territory extends as far north as northern Iowa, east to the Mississippi River, as far west as the Rocky Mountains and south to the Rio Grande.

The company opened the Lawton plant with 25 full-time employees. Through the last 15 years, the workforce has gradually grown to now approximately 85 full-time employees and 25 temporary employees.

With business improving and sales increasing, the company announced a major expansion project last summer that upon completion, will require an additional 110 full-time and about 10 temporary associates.

“We focus on purchasing the highest quality products, supported with industry-leading service,” says Walker. “That is our reputation in the market place.” President and CEO Ricky Silver sums up his feelings about the future of the company in Oklahoma. “Lawton became our first production facility outside of North Carolina and we were welcomed by the community and found many loyal and gifted employees,” says Silver. “We are excited about the expansion for our customers, our employees and the Lawton community. We look forward to continuing this very special relationship.”

Enviro Systems Inc.
– Seminole, Oklahoma

Enviro Systems Inc. designs and manufactures environmental control systems (ECS) that provide a safe, secure and comfortable cabin environment. In simple terms, they “manage air on airplanes and helicopters.”

The three fundamental ECS systems are “Bleed Air” (manages the air coming into the aircraft); “Vapor Cycle Air Conditioning” (manages the air within the aircraft) and “Cabin Pressurization” (manages the air going out).

Founded in 1979, Enviro is located in Seminole, conveniently adjacent to the airport, and its quality system is registered ISO9001 and AS9100, a widely adopted and standardized quality management system for the aerospace industry.

With some 170 dedicated employees, Enviro is certainly an international leader in their field. The company transacts business in 55 countries across all continents while serving some of the largest names in the aviation industry such as Cessna, Embraer, Pilatus, HondaJet and Sikorsky.

The company adheres to the principles of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement with its core competencies of primary metal machining, composite manufacturing, CNC tube bending, mechanical assembly and electrical assembly.

Paul Campbell, Enviro CEO and president, is proud of the quality of products that Enviro provides for their customers.

“What separates us is our speed to market, speed of delivery, our technology, and of course, our people,” says Campbell. “Why I love working at Enviro the most is our people. We actively strive to be the best place to work each and every day. We know that each of us is important to our mission and we work relentlessly every day to invest in ourselves and improve.”

– Jenks, Oklahoma

Kimberly-Clark’s (K-C) Jenks Mill celebrated its 25th anniversary last year and is still going strong.

The Jenks manufacturing facility has experienced steady growth. It opened in 1990 with one tissue machine and 100 employees making bath tissue (toilet paper). In 2001, the Mill doubled in size with the addition of a second tissue machine, six converting lines and a warehouse, which expanded the production process to include Scott products and increasing employment of the mill from 200 employees to about 350.

In 2006, the Mill expanded again by adding Viva paper towels to the manufacturing portfolio. In 2016, the mill expanded with the addition of a new converting winder that will allow the Jenks operation to produce coreless bath tissue.

“Our workforce represents a wide array of talents. Our mechanics, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians support the mill on a multitude of different fronts,” says Eric Draheim, manager, Jenks Mill. “Our team members have advanced skills in welding, rigging, process optimization, controls programming and power systems. There are some 50 engineers with degrees in mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering.”

The Jenks facility plays a major role in the area’s economy. Current employment at the mill is about 500 employees plus some 200 contract employees supporting the warehouse operation. The combined payroll into the local economy exceeds $3 million per month.

Jenks Mill Manager Draheim describes the impact of the Jenks facility.

“K-C Jenks Mill is a major producer in our North American consumer tissue business. Our highly skilled and motivated employees ensure Jenks Mill is safe, reliable and efficient. Their efforts coupled with a strong business climate in Oklahoma have driven our competitiveness for new investment and jobs — as indicated by the steady growth of the Mill over the last 25 years.”

Oklahoma Economic Development Guide

Opportunities abound in Oklahoma as new alliances, technologies and programs bring big ideas, skilled workers and financial incentives to The Sooner State.

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