CBC Global Exports Its Industrial Products to 63 Countries

COLUMBIANA, Ohio – A manufacturer based in Columbiana that’s poised to commemorate 130 years in operation has made its mark on the rest of the world. 

The company – established in 1894 as the Columbiana Boiler Co. – recently changed its name to CBC Global to better reflect the nature of its business in the 21st century, its president, Michael Koprivnak, says.

“We stopped building boilers in 1922,” he says. Over the years, the changing product and customer base have expanded CBC’s footprint to nearly every continent. Thus, it made sense to rebrand the company to better align with its global presence and products, he says.

CBC Global manufactures industrial kettles used in galvanizing or annealing processes, containers specifically designed and approved to transport hazardous liquids and gas, specialty cylinders and custom metal fabrications. The company sells its products to customers in a variety of industries and looks to improve its market share in sectors such as aerospace, pharmaceuticals and the food industries.

Koprivnak says it became cumbersome explaining to potential customers that the company’s former name didn’t accurately depict its product mix or capabilities.

Mike Koprivnak is president of CBC.

“We came to the realization that we should rebrand the company and take ‘boiler’ out of the name,” he says. Instead, CBC Global is a more accurate description of the company’s business. 

“We’re the largest exporter in Columbiana County,” Koprivnak says. “We export to 63 different countries. So, what’s better to name ourselves than CBC Global?”

Koprivnak says the company has done a significant amount of international business for more than 30 years and each year has witnessed global growth.

“A lot of our business in our kettle department goes to Mexico, Central America, South America – but we do ship to Africa,” he says. In this case, galvanizing kettles are metal containers with an open top that are designed to hold zinc heated at high temperatures.  Manufacturers then immerse steel products in the zinc bath to galvanize them. These kettles could range in size from a foot long to 82 feet in length, depending on the customer’s needs.

CBC Global’s container division, Koprivnak says, also ships to customers on those continents, as well as to clients in Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia.

“There’s not a spot on the globe that we have not touched,” Koprivnak says.

Moreover, the international portion of the business is growing every year, Koprivnak says, evidenced by new global customers and clients. He attributes this growth to the company’s reputation in manufacturing products that are durable and made by skilled craftsmen.

“We’ve become a favorite in the industry because of the lifespan of our products,” he says.

The level of exports often changes year to year, Koprivnak says. “Some years, we’ve seen up to 65% to 70% of our business be exported,” he says. “Some years it’s been 40%.”

But international business has steadily grown over the last five years, the company president says.

CBC Global’s kettle division, for example, has witnessed a 25% increase in export demand this year. “We’re trying to get further into Europe with this product,” he says. “That’s a big push for us.

“Last year, we saw some of our largest shipments internationally,” he says of overall exports. “Venezuela’s been a big customer for us. Australia’s been a big customer for us. Going back 10 years, Saudi Arabia was a major customer for us.”

Koprivnak says CBC containers – all of which are U.S. Department of Transportation certified – are approved to handle 204 chemicals.

“A lot of them are used for chlorine for water treatment in underdeveloped countries,” he says.

Others use these containers for refrigerants – another market that Koprivnak believes will grow in the near term. Its stainless steel containers are ideal for pharmaceuticals or use by the U.S. Department of Defense, he adds.

“They can handle Class 6 chemicals,” Koprivnak says, which are used in fuel for rockets, missiles, and in the manufacture of medical supplies. 

The company uses what it believes is the largest forge welder in the world to manufacture these containers, says production manager Daryl Musser. “That forge welder was actually designed here, years ago before my time,” he says. “We have the only forge welder machine for these containers.”

CBC Global employs 41 at its campus at 200 W. Railroad St. in Columbiana. Its products are shipped from the plant and either delivered to domestic customers or overseas customers through ports such as Baltimore, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Houston.  Musser says the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore and the subsequent closure of the port should not affect global deliveries since the company has options to use other ports. 

Donald Brackin, crane operator, affixes the new CBC logo on a kettle.

The company’s reputation for quality work has helped it attract a robust domestic and international customer base. In one instance, a competing company in Brazil went as far as to name its firm Columbiana Boiler Co. and produced knockoffs of CBC’s container products. 

“This fall, we’ll be going down [to Brazil] because we’re going to explain we are the original Columbiana Boiler and are now CBC Global,” he says.

Aside from manufacturing containers and kettles, CBC Global refurbishes container products so they could be recertified for further use. In some cases, the workmanship was so good on these containers that the company has seen first-time recondition orders for products that were manufactured during the 1930s.

Among the biggest challenges, however, is finding workers, says Bob Oatridge, plant manager. 

These positions are not necessarily skilled level, either, noting that there are openings for laborers who could be trained as they progress through the company. “There’s a lot of work in the container area where it’s labor intense,” he says. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

Even skilled positions such as welders require some knowledge, but veteran welders at CBC Global are able to provide training for those who are willing to learn, Oatridge says. “We’re busy – it’s just finding employees,” he says. 

Koprivnak concedes that doing business on an international scale comes with its complexities. Technology and digital programs that can accurately translate foreign languages have been helpful, he says, while the company has sought services from the Ohio Export Internship Program through the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Youngstown State University.

“We’ve used their interns and it’s a wonderful program,” he says. An intern the company will use this summer speaks fluent Spanish.

“Right now, business is strong. We’re seeing new customers and an expansion of our products in other industries,” such as aerospace, pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, Koprivnak says. “We’re coming off a record couple of years. We’re looking to do that again this year.”

Pictured at top: At CBC, Daryl Musser is production manager and Bob Oatridge is plant manager.

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