Oil boom fuels growth in metal fabrication operations

Metal fabricators are expanding their operations across Northern Colorado in response to growth in the energy and agricultural industries.

“Things have pretty much exploded,” said Gail Meisinger, the director of human resources at Leed Fabrication in Brighton.

Leed, which also maintains a Greeley location, recently announced that it would hire 40 employees to work at its new facility in Loveland.

Leed’s business has grown substantially in the past two years because of drilling in the Niobrara formation in Weld County.

The company manufactures equipment for oil and gas development nationwide. But most of its business comes from Weld County, where several producers have reported record production partly driven by their Denver-Julesburg Basin operations.

In expanding to Loveland, Leed bought a 22,000-square foot facility once owned by Cee-Jay Tool Co. for $2.1 million. The space already had a great deal of the equipment that Leed could use in its operations.

The move also gave the company an additional labor pool to tap into.

Springs Fabrication, a Colorado Springs-based metal fabricator, expanded into Fort Collins recently when it bought a manufacturing facility from Precision Machined Products. The facility, the company’s second, will provide it with the additional capacity it needs to serve Northern Colorado customers.

The company’s customers consist of original-equipment manufacturers, which span a range of industries, including oil and gas and technology, Springs Fabrication President Tom Neppl said.

The company builds oil and gas pipelines, processing equipment, and pressure vessels. Springs Fabrication also makes equipment that supports manufacturing for solar energy companies.

The company will hire around a dozen people by the end of the year, Neppl said.

Other than oil and gas, steel companies have benefited from the presence of agribusiness giants like cheese maker Leprino and meat producer JBS, said Bruce Biggi, Greeley economic development manager.

“We have quite a bit of steel manufacturing associated with the agricultural industry,” he said. “They’ve been there for quite some time, but they’re picking up new and additional work.”

Brewer Steel in Greeley hired three new employees this year following growth spurred by strong agriculture and oil and gas industries, company Vice President Mike Mellor said. He has talked to representatives of other companies who say they are similarly busy.

Brewer Steel fabricates metal used in sugar refinery equipment nationwide. Since 2009, U.S. raw sugar prices have increased by more than 50 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

So farmers “have a little bit of money in their pocket that they can do some capital projects they’ve been putting off,” Mellor said.

The company also has seen increased work from oil and gas development.

“At the moment, we’re a bit overwhelmed,” Mellor said. “We have a lot of large contracts, quick turnarounds.”

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