FloWorks International

In the two years CEO Frank Riddick has been at the helm of FloWorks International, his major focus has been to knit the Shale Inland Holdings LLC group of companies into an integrated, value-added supplier of pipes, valves and fittings and transform the group into one company with a common vision and goals. With the change in strategy, it became obvious that a change in name was essential.

The decision to make the significant change came after considerable thought and consideration. 

“There were several motivating factors,” Riddick says. “First among them was a desire to give the company a name and identity that better associated it with the marketplace.

“Shale Inland is a legacy name that has nothing to do with either what we do or how we do it,” he says. “Our opportunity was to take a fresh but focused approach and rebrand ourselves. We believe FloWorks builds on the rich histories of our specialty distributor companies, and reflects our opportunity to offer smart and cost-effective flow solutions only an integrated supplier can provide.” 

Riddick found himself so often explaining the structure of the company that he realized that the whole was truly greater than the sum of the parts. He believed that uniting the company under a new brand was mission critical, both externally and internally. 

With business units focused on valves and automation (V&A) and pipe, fittings and flanges (PFF), FloWorks has many companies in its portfolio. These include Sunbelt Supply, Southwest Stainless & Alloy, MultAlloy, Polar Pipe and Fittings, Stainless Tubular Products (STP) and J&J Alloys/J&J Bar and Major Inc. FloWorks maintains almost $300 million in inventory of more than 75,000 unique products. It connects approximately 1,900 vendors with approximately 5,900 customers.

FloWorks strategic distribution network links 46 locations in North America, Saudi Arabia and China, as well as representatives in Latin America and Singapore. The company is uniquely positioned as a critical supply chain link to serve the local needs of national and global customers in the petrochemical, refining, mining and industrial sectors.

Rebranding, no easy task

Having had the experience of re-branding in the past, Riddick knew that it was no easy task, and would take time and resources to yield results. 

He engaged a consultant, Trion LLC, and an agency, Commerce House, to lead the process. “We knew that while we had the enthusiasm for the change, we lacked the expertise, so we asked Trion and Commerce House to lead the project for us,” Riddick says. “Besides, this type of exercise is better conducted by objective third parties who methodically deliver insights based on the voice of the customer - insights that are often difficult to capture via our own people.” 

The first step in the rebranding process was for the agency to conduct research, both inside and outside the company. This research helped FloWorks understand changes in today’s competitive environment. Most notably, customers are demanding specialty product expertise, a wide range of inventory and geographic focus and systems, Riddick says. “We want to go to market and serve the clients the very way the clients are asking to be served,” he says. The research confirmed management’s intuition and gave them confidence that they were headed in the right direction. The benefits of rebranding became clear including:

    Improved alignment with corporate strategy and improved communication of the company’s capabilities to its customers;
    Demonstration of a fresh perspective on the market that indicates meaningful change; 
    A look that gives the company a sophisticated and forward-thinking position in the market.
Name and Logo

While the rebranding campaign involved much more than devising a new company name and logo, choosing a name was one of the most difficult components of the effort, Riddick says. The name and [Internet] domain not only had to appropriately represent the company’s new market position, but it had to be globally available for trademark purposes.

“You must get your positioning right first,” Riddick explains. “Your positioning must reflect your business strategy. We determined that we are flow-solution experts within a unified family of companies that can meet customers’ varied needs,” Riddick says. “The name and logo are reflections of what we do and how we do it. We offer smart and cost-effective flow solutions that only an integrated supplier can provide.”

Riddick does not expect the company’s new name and brand to take hold over night, but he says that the initial reaction of customers and suppliers is accepting and positive. “They understand why we would make the change and the benefits it can bring with it,” he says. 

He has received positive feedback from all of FloWorks’ constituencies, who recognized why the decision was made. “They realized that we will support and integrate our offerings by operating as one company with a common vision and goals, and that by working together under the FloWorks International banner, we will be stronger,” he says. It also is investing in new and expanding facilities, inventory, systems and people, a clear sign of financial strength. 

Expanding Geographically

While the rebranding has been underway, the company took other significant steps to reposition itself in the market. “We’re expanding and consolidating at the same time,” says Rick Kerrigan, senior vice president of operations. “The primary intention of repositioning ourselves within the industry and presenting our customers with a name that depicts our strong heritage and products was to expand our service and expertise footprint both domestically and internationally, and consolidate our operations where it makes sense.

Domestic areas targeted for expansion include Charlotte, N.C.; Mobile, Ala.; and Corpus Christi, Texas. International targets include China and Saudi Arabia. “Each of these locations support our Sunbelt Supply Valves and Automation, as well as our pipe, fittings and flange business units and are either operational or will be by early in the first quarter of 2016,” Kerrigan says. “We are confident that penetration into these markets will deliver substantial results in the petrochemical and refinery markets while continuing our success offering exceptional valve products and automation services to our customers.”

Additionally, FloWorks is consolidating locations or moving to new buildings. The Pearland, Texas, consolidation will support the company’s pipe fittings and flanges business unit and features a 40-acre parcel that will accommodate a 205,000-square-foot warehouse, corporate offices and a seven-acre concrete pipe yard. The facility will consolidate seven Houston locations and hold three of FloWorks major brands: Southwest Stainless and Alloys, JJ Alloys and JJ Bar Plus. 

The expansions and consolidations signal to the market that FloWorks is in a growth mode despite a challenging market. “Considering the headwind that the oil and gas industry continues to experience, many of our competitors are cutting back on inventory and resources,” Kerrigan says. “We feel like a new company under the FloWorks brand, so we are doing just the opposite: we’re expanding our service footprint and expertise. We know the opportunity is there and we’re going for it.” 

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