Company planning to double workforce

Published on Monday, 14 July 2014 22:48 - Written by CASEY MURPHY cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

VME Fabricators plans to double its Tyler workforce by year’s end and has surpassed goals set a year ago when the city and county agreed to tax abatements, representatives announced on Monday.

VME Fabricators is a new operating division and subsidiary of VME Process Inc., an international business based in Tyler. It provides offshore oil and gas separation and processing products.

VME Fabricators, which now has more than 50 employees in Tyler, was founded to serve onshore production needs for customers in the United States, providing module and pipe fabrication services. Its first orders will be shipped out in August, officials said in a prepared statement.

“As the domestic oil and gas market continues to grow, so will VME as we gain onshore market share and loyalty with customers needing reliable fabrication services,” Greg Jean, vice president and general manager of VME Fabricators, said in an email.

Todd Hinkie, principal of The Thinkie Group and a marketing consultant, said VME Fabricators grew out of the knowledge and brand recognition of VME Process, which started here in 1985 and supplies separation and process equipment globally for the offshore oil and gas market. 

“VME Fabricators was founded specifically to leverage the expertise of VME Process for the U.S. onshore market …,” he said in an email. “The same applications for the offshore market are needed for the onshore market.”

VME Fabricators meets the need for production and processing of oil and gas from recent land-based shale developments, the majority of which are located in Texas, Hinkie said. Most of the growth of production and infrastructure build-out is occurring in the state, which perfectly positions VME Fabricators in Tyler to serve the vast majority of customers. 

VME is holding a job fair at its facility, at 3733 Shiloh Road, from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday. Applications for welders, fitters and helpers are being taken and are online at vmefabricators.com or at the office.

Since acquiring the former Howe-Baker/CB&I facility on Shiloh Road last year, the company has invested more than $3 million in the building, upgrades and equipment.

The business is on track with agreements it made a year ago with the city of Tyler and Smith County for tax abatements. 

“VME is on schedule to meet the $1.6 million investment required for Phase I of the tax abatement by Dec. 31,” Jean said. “The company expects to hire 50 new employees by year’s end, surpassing the employment requirement of 25.

A year ago, the Smith County Commissioners Court and the Tyler City Council each approved five-year 100 percent tax abatements for VME Fabricators.

Phase I of the company’s expansion included $1.6 million to move to the new facility, make renovations, purchase new equipment and add 25 new employees, City Planner Heather Nick said earlier. The Phase II investment is expected to be around $2 million, and add 40 more jobs, for a total of 96 Tyler employees. Phase II must be complete by Dec. 31, 2016, Ms. Nick said.

Tyler was in competition with Houston for the expansion. The city and county offered the abatements as a way to encourage VME to expand here.

Jean said Monday that the Tyler Economic Development Council was instrumental in assisting with new business growth and helping VME continue its 29-year commitment to East Texas.

“We are pleased that VME chose to remain in Tyler and expand here rather than Houston where they also had a presence,” said Tom Mullins, president and chief executive officer of the Tyler Economic Development Council. “They have invested millions in the Tyler facility and have created high wage jobs and, as a result, have had a very positive impact on Tyler’s economy.”