The ability to develop new products and services that meet customer needs has served Compressor Engineering Corporation (CECO) well for more than half a century. Ernest G. Hotze started the company in June 1964 when he saw a need for high-quality, readily available reciprocating compressor parts for slow-speed integral motor compressors, the workhorse of the American compressor industry. then nascent interstate pipelines.
From humble beginnings in the family garage, with the help of six of his sons as assistants, CECO has gained market recognition as a supplier of quality channel valves. So much so that CECO was forced out of the garage of the family home when the company’s inventory outgrew his wife’s closet space, as recounted by Richard Hotze, the sixth son of Ernest Hotze. and current CEO.
In 1978 the company moved to its current headquarters in southwest Houston and has been growing ever since. In 1984, he added a 30,000 square foot manufacturing facility at the Houston site to meet additional demand. Repair facilities in Odessa, Texas were expanded and those in Walker, Louisiana were added in 2007. Fast forward 58 years, the company is still controlled by the founder’s family and its management does not plan no external investors in the near future.
Richard Hotze loves what he does and has no plans to retire any time soon. “We see a lot of opportunities to continue my father’s passion for quality aftermarket parts and engineered solutions for reciprocating compressors,” he said.
CECO continues to be an independent manufacturer of replacement components and engineered solutions for reciprocating gas compressors. “Where revenue is used, we can play,” Hotze said. The company has grown over the years and transformed many times as the oil and gas industry has grown and contracted. CECO also serves the industrial aviation market and the petrochemical industry and supplies mission-critical components to the US Navy.
More than a valve company
Omar Jimenez, vice president of sales and marketing, said the company is known for its reed compressor valves, but has a broader portfolio of products and services for the compression industry. some gas. “CECO reed valves are found in the majority of older low-speed integral motor-compressors, but we are much more than a valve company. In addition to compressor valves, we design and manufacture capacity control solutions, supply replacement polymer wear components, and supply legacy 2-stroke engine parts, among others. The company’s traditional products include eMAX poppet valves, durMAX actuators and TruBalance fuel gas modulators, all of which are found on many 2-stroke integrals in legacy gas transmission service today.
The old integrals were the foundation on which the company was built and are still an integral part of its business today. CECO’s polymer products have also been a staple in the industry, and as users expand the use of high-speed separable products, the company is well positioned to grow its presence.
“Our polymer products in particular are well suited to help customers pursue their emissions reduction initiatives and focus on lowering operating expenses to increase profitability,” says Jimenez. “For example, our LEP low emission packing, X540 low lubrication polymer and ePV packing vent monitor are ideal for owners and operators looking to reduce fugitive emissions, reduce lubrication and quantify the leakage rates of their packaging boxes as part of their ESG initiatives. “, he said. As end users have shown growing interest in reducing emissions, interest in these products has increased, the company said. “We didn’t think it would ever take off, but it finally did,” Hotze said. “We are seeing a shift in the industry and sales are responding.”
Complementary services to its products
While being known for its compressor valves and continuing to make a name for itself with its polymer wear parts, CECO also provides services to its customers. Repair services, field service and pipeline integrity top the service offerings.
The company previously had repair facilities in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, but Hurricane Katrina left products and services stranded for months. Management decided to build a new facility outside of Baton Rouge in Walker, LA, where it houses both its repair and pipeline service businesses. CECO also has a major repair facility in Odessa, Texas, in the heart of the Permian Basin and the epicenter of a large amount of gas compression equipment. Both facilities are equipped to carry out repairs on compressors integrated and separable from the crosshead. The scope of repaired equipment includes smaller items such as valves, gaskets and wiper housings as well as piston and rod assemblies for more in-depth repair of larger items such as cylinders and connecting rods. Additionally, CECO is also capable of repairing engine equipment with the expertise to handle power cylinders, cylinder heads, connecting rods as well as smaller ancillary equipment.
Josh Bobincheck, vice president of operations, said the company’s manufacturing facilities in Houston primarily support two product lines: the polymer business and engineering equipment. The Polymer Shop is a fast-turnaround production facility with the ability to produce items on short notice.
“With our large inventory and ready workforce, we are able to manufacture polymer products such as rings, jumpers, and gaskets quickly and efficiently to meet our customers’ urgent demands,” did he declare. The fabrication shop is well equipped to produce a wide variety of parts, including valves, packing cases, unloading equipment and pistons at its Houston facility. Because “every job is a little different,” the company’s fabrication and repair shops work in conjunction with its engineering group to manufacture custom equipment to meet customer needs. The production of technical equipment and polymers produced in Houston are then integrated with repairs at satellite sites or delivered directly to customers.
CECO Pipeline Services (CPSC), a wholly owned subsidiary of CECO, provides pipeline integrity services, facility maintenance support and field mechanical services. Many excavations are revetments, where the CPSC team locates, digs, blasts and covers the pipe before it is buried again. The pipeline team also maintains the compressor stations. The Pipeline Services division includes a field mechanical service team that works on both the compressors and the motors that run them. The teams disassemble and reassemble the compressors and motors to restore them to good working order. “It’s more than just changing compressor valves,” Hotze said.
CECO’s outlook remains positive despite recent headwinds from COVID-19 and other macro factors. Increasing LNG export capacity in the United States, the continued transition to cleaner burning natural gas for electricity consumption, and the hydrogen economy all underscore the need to keep assets in activity. “We are very optimistic about the alternative gas compression industry, which is what we serve. And it doesn’t matter if it’s hydrogen or whatever. If it’s a gas, we can take care of the compressor used to compress it,” says Hotze.