How Tubular USA Uses Scotchman Saws to Gain a Competitive Edge
When you’re one of the nation’s largest suppliers of galvanized steel tube and pipe, moving an annual volume of 50,000 tons, what name in sawing do you trust to help you get the job done?
For Tubular USA, founded in 1993 and located in Weldon Springs, MO, that name is Scotchman.
Tubular USA serves the Midwest and Mountain States, handling and fabricating tubing sizes from 1/2-in. to 5-in. Schedule 40, and has over 150 years of collective tubing experience, says plant manager John Tracy.
Tubular USA is located in Weldon Springs, MO, and has three separate facilities in the St. Louis area.
“I’ve got 37 years myself, so it kind of cheats on the average, doesn’t it?” he jokes.
The company handles everything involved with the fabrication of their tube and pipe, including warehousing, and they have three separate facilities in the St. Louis area, each 50,000 sq. ft.
They also keep a diverse portfolio of products and services.
“We do a little of this, a little of that,” says Tracy.
However, in his words, their highest triumph is their level of service.
“What really makes us great is that we meet the demands of high-end customers and mom-and-pop shops with the same level of service,” he elaborates. “If you buy $500 from us, we’re going to treat you the same way if you buy $5 million from us, and we do have those types of customers and higher, but the point is they get the same service.
“Do you have to jump more often for the big guy? Well, yeah, because he’s buying more, but it doesn’t mean that little guys are treated little.”
In addition to these things, during his tenure as plant manager, Tracy has witnessed the business experience impressive growth.
“When I started here four years ago, we had 16 employees total,” he says. “Now, we have 60. Increasing from 16 to 60 in less than four years is pretty good growth, and it’s all thanks to the direction, leadership and attitude provided by Tubular USA’s owners, Carl and Mark Meiners.”
Logically, this would mean that the company has a pretty busy shop floor, which includes a robust cutting line consisting of eight saws. Part of that cutting line is their Scotchman CPO 315 RFA/ST. According to the manufacturer, the CPO 315 RFA saw is “designed for high volume and long length applications that require accurate and clean cuts,” and it can “automatically load, trim, cut and sort lengths up to 120 in.,” as well as “hold plus or minus 0.006 in lengths of tubing up to 3 in. in diameter.”
Tracy says that their CPO 315 RFA/ST saw “works like clockwork.”
“It works like clockwork,” comments Tracy.
Tubular USA is very satisfied with their Scotchman saw, but like all the saws in their operations, it’s a fixed-position unit. They want to move beyond that limitation, and take production to the next level.
Their plan is to build a number of flexible, mobile work cells around Scotchman saws. These work cells will serve four functions in the company’s production leading to a finished product, and potentially increase throughput a minimum of 10 percent per cell, performing both job-specific and general purpose assignments.
Of the four functions the cells will perform, the Scotchman saw will perform the cutting function. The other functions of the cell are proprietary information, but Tracy assures that if someone outside of the company were to see the cells, they would realize how much of a competitive edge they provide.
Tubular USA’s first step in executing this plan has already been completed in their purchase of another saw – a Scotchman CPO 350 PKPD. The CPO 350 is a compact unit, measuring 21-7/8-in. wide, 43-1/2-in. deep and 56-1/4-in. high (not including handle), according to the manufacturer, and it will serve in their first work cell when it’s completed. How this first work cell performs will determine whether Tubular USA buys more saws to build more cells.
Tubular USA’s new CPO 350 PKPD saw will perform the cutting function in their first mobile work cell.
Tracy says that the CPO 350 is also replacing a German saw that has been very costly to repair, on top of having poor availability for parts. He points out that the opposite has been true for their Scotchman saw. “We’ve had zero problems with Scotchman in service, parts and reliability.”
He also says that they’ve been very satisfied with the price.
“The cost savings that we gained by buying the Scotchman allowed us to develop a fixed method,” he explains. “That’s something we may not have been able to afford if we had bought more expensive saws.”
There were a number of factors that went into their decision to buy the original CPO 315 and now the CPO 350 for the work cell, but Tracy points to their original purchase years ago of two Scotchman presses – a 90-ton and a 100-ton – for punching holes in heavy wall tubing. This is what first generated their trust in the Scotchman name.
“They’ve been flawless,” he remarks, referring to the presses. “After our success with them, and their performance on service and parts, we decided that our next buy was definitely with Scotchman.
“Although they’re two different types of machines, it really does tell you about the design quality of the product and the performance.”
To drive home his point of why they put so much stock in Scotchman, he relates a story in which they had a problem with one of their presses, as a result of having non-Scotchman hardware on it. “It wasn’t Scotchman’s fault; it was like putting bad tires on a great car. But we’re talking multi-millions of dollars riding on this, and if you don’t make a delivery in the market we’re playing in, you can be fined $20,000 a day.”
Tracy says that Scotchman really came through, however, and told them how to fix the problem, as well as what to try doing and to whom to talk to get it done.
“Here’s the short story,” he sums up. “If someone abandons ship when you’ve got a problem, what do you think they’re going to do if you truly have a success?
“You don’t want to go to them. It’s the guys that stick by you when it’s tough, that’s who you want. And that’s what Scotchman did.
“We’ve had no true failures from Scotchman units. That’s a critical factor for purchasing anything.”
Tracy also points out another key factor in their purchase decision.
“Our name is Tubular USA,” he says. “Yes, we have non-USA equipment, but when equipment says ‘made in the USA,’ that’s another consideration and that consideration is validated when you call there and you get good service on a great product.”