Marsh Bellofram Group Acquires Specialty Fab

NORTH LIMA, Ohio – The new owner of Specialty Fab Inc. says the company is poised for expansion and job growth as it continues to move forward in a sluggish oil and gas market.

“We see it as an opportunity,” says Joe Colletti, president of the Marsh Bellofram Group of Companies based in Newell, W.Va. “We’re keying up new oil and gas products as fast as we can.”

Bellofram formally acquired the North Lima metals fabrication shop earlier this week, Colletti reports, a move that complements two other acquisitions his company made earlier in Oklahoma. The purchase of Specialty Fab allows Bellofram to access the oil and gas activity in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays.

“We wanted to acquire and develop in this region,” notes Colletti, who lives in Poland. “We’re here to stay.”

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Specialty Fab, established in 1994 by its president, David Hughes, has carved out a solid business by serving the oil and gas industry in the Utica shale play. However, since oil prices have plummeted, and natural gas prices remain low, business across the industry supply chain has dwindled.

Colletti says that Specialty Fab is a competitive and highly accredited company with a workforce able to handle new product lines. “He [Hughes] has a good base of employees, a good customer base and we needed somewhat of a unique facility” that Specialty Fab could provide. “A lot of other fabricators tried to make it happen and failed. We didn’t want to take a tarnished company and try to turn it around. This gives us a foundation.”

As for Hughes, the sale is bittersweet. “I have mixed emotions,” he says. “But this is a great opportunity for the area and our employees. This company can do better than what a small operator like myself can do for our workers.”

New investment and expansion of the plant will come in phases, Colletti says. The transition will include a name change – from Specialty Fab to Bird Equipment – and new training for employees.

“We’re bringing some people up from Oklahoma to train Dave’s staff,” Colletti says. The new company will manufacture larger pieces of equipment used in the oil and gas industry that require a different set of skills. “We’ll have to put in large welding stations, big manipulators and hydro static testing equipment,” he says.

The projected initial investment is about $500,000, he adds, noting that the plant could employ somewhere between 50 and 75 people once the new business lines are running. Specialty Fab employs about 20.

Colletti says the company recently hired two new salesmen to make contacts with oil and gas companies in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“Once we get going, we’ll be doing a lot of midstream construction work” with processors, he says. “Another phase is pipeline work. We hope to hit a home run.”

Still, Colletti recognizes the fluctuations in  the oil and gas market. “In the near term, it’ll be on the tough side. Oil prices are still at $50 a barrel and natural gas prices have stabilized,” he acknowledges. “Is it perfect timing? Probably not. We look for this as an opportunity to take expertise from Oklahoma, bring it to North Lima and run like heck to make products.”

Marsh Bellofram is an international company that started as an instrumentation manufacturer. Today, it operates 14 divisions, including the most recent acquisition, and employs 430. “We’re a very diverse corporation and we’ve been in Newell for 30 years,” he says. The company also owns and operates a manufacturing plant in China.

Hughes says he’ll continue to work with the company through the transition. “I’m very excited for our employees. This company has big pockets, and it’s a great opportunity, ” he says.

Pictured: Specialty Fab’s plant at 11950 South Ave. in North Lima.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.