An oil tube manufacturer plans to open a $12.1 million plant in New Carlisle and use locally made steel.
Tejas Tubular Products Inc. will heat-treat and manufacture well casings for the oil and gas industry at its new factory. The company is moving into a vacant building in St. Joseph County, and setting up an operation that will be able to produce 72,000 tons of casing annually.
Chicago-based supplier Independence Tube will furnish the plant with tubing that it will upgrade into a more finished, higher-quality product, and the steel should primarily come from ArcelorMittal, said Darrell Ballinger, vice president of sales and marketing for Tejas Tubular. ArcelorMittal has several area operations, including mills along Lake Michigan's southern shore and two joint ventures with Japanese steelmakers in New Carlisle.
"Tejas is committed to working within local communities, promoting domestic jobs and utilizing American steel to support the U.S. domestic tubular products industry," Ballinger said.
The Houston-based company plans to hire 100 workers at the plant by the end of next year, and an additional 50 workers the following year, said Greg Lorch, director of business growth of St. Joseph County.
Jobs will pay between $10 an hour and $30 an hour, depending on the position, Lorch said. Tejas Tubular Products plans to hire mainly production workers, but also will need computerized numerical control machinists and quality assurance engineers.
Workers will harden steel tubes with heat treatments and thread them, in order to make heavier-weight production casings for oil and gas wells. The North American energy industry has been booming of late, largely because of the extraction of gas from shale.
"Certainly the oil and gas industry is very dynamic right now," Ballinger said. "The shale technology has created real opportunity out there."
The Texas-based company, which has manufacturing plants in Houston and Stephenville, Texas, had been shipping its products to a distributor in Ohio but wanted to be somewhere closer to cut down on shipping costs, Lorch said.
Tejas Tubular Products picked New Carlisle partly because it's midway between the distributor and its Chicago-based supplier, he said.
The company's founder, Purdue University graduate Maximo A. Tejeda Sr., hails from nearby Michigan City, where his mother still resides.
Tejas Tubular Products is moving into the former Scott Brass foundry, which was shuttered in 2008.
"It's definitely exciting," Lorch said. "It's a good addition of a good employer in a growing industry."