FloWorks International

FloWorks InternationalFloWorks International opens a state-of-the-art facility in Texas to better serve its customers, further solidifying its position as an industry leader. 

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

What’s in a name? Everything for FloWorks International, which last year completed its rebranding to better communicate its specialty and unite its group of companies into one with a common vision and goals. “Rebranding to FloWorks actually identifies what we do in our business, which is supply flow solution products, services and technical expertise for used in the transmission of oil, gas, chemical liquids, water, steam and various other forms of media in a multitude of different industries,” Chief Commercial Officer Rob Beardmore says.

With business units focused on the supply of valves and valve automation (V&A) along with pipe, fittings and flanges (PFF), FloWorks’ portfolio of companies includes Sunbelt Supply Co., Major Inc., Southwest Stainless & Alloy, J&J Alloys and J&J Bar Plus. Its products and services are used in the energy, oil and gas production and transportation, refining, petrochemical, chemical, power, marine, mining, pulp & paper and the food and beverage industries.

FloWorks operates 44 strategically located facilities in North America and two international facilities in Shanghai, China, and Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Its principal products include both commodity and specialty material grades of industrial pipes, fittings, flanges, tubing, bar and structural shapes along with manual valves, actuators and controls.  North America’s largest selection of stocked material grades includes carbon, stainless and numerous alloys grades in high nickel, chrome and aluminum. Value-added services include ISO certified quality systems, manufacturer auditing and AML/AVL expertise, in house PMI and other non-destructive quality assurance capabilities, valve automation and actuation, CAD design, CNC machining, ASTM certified specialty fittings manufacturing, field service technicians and systems & processes optimization.

Supply and Demand

Servicing our customers is what our team does best. However, building relationships with our manufacturers and vendors to supply high-quality products at a cost-effective level is what ensures the outstanding service that we give to our customers. FloWorks developed a Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) program a year-and-a-half ago to hold each one more accountable when it comes to quality, cost, on-time delivery, capacity, and responsiveness. floworks box

The company keeps track of its suppliers’ performance with scorecards and quarterly reviews. The information is critical to the purchasing department to keep all of our branch locations properly stocked as well as to our commercial teams who often buy products to support projects and MRO contracts with our major customers.

“Keeping constant dialogue with our suppliers and giving them critical feedback, goes a long way to show them that if they do a good job, even through the tough times, we will partner with them and will be a responsible customer in return,” says Rick Kerrigan, senior vice president of operations.

The company also implemented a demand forecasting and replenishment system two years ago (GAINSystems), which has allowed FloWorks to increase their buying cycles on A and B items while improving the overall scope of our inventory offering.  “Suppliers are much more stable now with a consistent ordering pattern from FloWorks and are more willing to work on procurement programs that are mutually beneficial.  This approach has helped reduce excess inventory on the PFF side while optimizing our valve inventory that has become more heavily project oriented in the last few years,” Kerrigan adds.

FloWorks ships over 20,000 lines of products a week and prides itself on continuously achieving an industry leading fill rate.  Kerrigan adds, “The key to world class customer service in our industry is the total team approach- this includes the successful interaction at the sales level, the proper entry of the customer order, the flawless execution of the delivery and the accountable follow up after delivery by all of our respective teams- this is the formula for service success”.

Optimizing its Operation

FloWorks moved into its new Pearland, Texas-based facility this year, bringing together Southwest Stainless & Alloy, J&J Alloys and J&J Bar Plus. The Pearland facility consolidated seven locations to support the company’s PFF business unit. The facility accommodates a 205,000-square-foot warehouse, PFF division headquarters and a seven-acre concrete pipe yard on a 40-acre parcel which allows for future expansion. 

Before the consolidation, FloWorks relied on its warehouse employees to know where everything was located, which made it tough to find product in an efficient manner, Kerrigan admits. “Everything in Pearland is barcoded, scanned and we have no paperwork other than what goes out to the customer,” he says. “The radio frequency scanner provides instant order and product data to someone out on a forklift to allow them to go and pick product. We couldn’t have done that in our old system.”

The new warehouse technology and equipment allows FloWorks to increase productivity, be more efficient and work at an overall higher level of performance. “It’s a better and much bigger facility where everything is in one location,” Kerrigan says. “When an order comes through, we can take a scanner to pick the product to the conveyor, pack and ship it within minutes versus hours and days in the past.”

During the three-month move to Pearland, FloWorks moved 518 truckloads of product from its seven locations in Houston. Across all of those truckloads, the company moved 29,000 SKUs. It transported 750,000 feet of pipe, and more than 500,000 fittings and flanges. “We have over 1,200 trucks of concrete in the foundation of the facility and enough rebar in the pipe yard to travel from Houston to Austin and back when put end to end,” Kerrigan says. “That’s a huge amount of material as well as an amazing amount of time put in by our committed and dedicated workforce”.

FloWorks was completely moved into the Pearland facility in March of 2017 and was fully optimized by May 1, 2017.  Kerrigan explains that improvements in productivity and efficiencies are in place and stabilized while the company maintains a culture focused on quality and safety.

“Quality is our focus and safety is our priority,” Kerrigan says. “We have T-shirts and banners with that saying up in the new facility. We have to make sure quality and safety is at the forefront for our teammates every day. Quality goes beyond just the final product we deliver, it also means all the things we do to make sure the customer experience exceeds expectations. With safety being a big priority in all of our facilities, we take considerable pride in having achieved over five million hours without a lost time incident.”

On Display

In addition to the Pearland facility, FloWorks opened five new locations over the last couple of years. Domestic facilities include Charlotte, N.C., Mobile, Ala., and Corpus Christi, TX. along with international facilities in Shanghai, China and Jubail, Saudi Arabia. 

“Each of these locations support our Sunbelt Supply Co. valves and valve automation, as well as our Southwest Stainless & Alloy pipe, fittings and flanges business units,” Beardmore says. “We are confident that penetration into these regions will deliver substantial results in the petrochemical, chemical and refinery markets while continuing our success in offering exceptional flow solution products and services to our customers.”

FloWorks will be hosting several open houses for its manufacturers and customers at each of its new facilities throughout the 2017 calendar year. “We want to showcase the new features of the facilities and how we are continually improving service to our customers through our state-of-the-art facilities and systems,” Beardmore says.

In June, FloWorks will showcase Sunbelt Supply Co. and Major Inc. during the 2017 Valve World Americas Expo & Conference at the George R. Brown Convention Center located in Houston, TX. This international show is held in the United States every two years.

Moving forward, FloWorks’ long-term goal is to be a best-in-class supply chain solution for industrial pipe valves and fittings for the industries it serves. “We are continually working towards providing better solutions for our customers and their flow solution challenges,” Beardmore says. “The nice thing about our rebranding effort is that people understand who we are now. FloWorks is a group of companies that are excited to serve our customers flow solution needs with an extensive array of high performance products, services and technical expertise!”

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