Growth of oil and gas, safety industry go hand in hand

Growth of oil and gas, safety industry go hand in hand

April 27, 2014
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Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter
Don Doyle, left, regional sales manager for Protective Industrial Products, shows Ray Sczur of McKeesport some of his products at the 11th annual Safety Expo sponsored by Shannon Safety Products at the Hilton Garden Inn Southpointe in Cecil Township. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter
Chuck Cellini, left, senior account representative for 3M, dons a full-rim hard hat, safety glasses and a half-face respirator for demonstration purposes as his associate, Denny Collins, shows additional equipment to a customer. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter
Chad Riccelli, left, territory sales manager for Shannon Safety Products, tries out a new-style safety ladder with Paul Castro, right, representing Little Giant, at the 11th annual Safety Expo by Shannon Safety Products held at the Hilton Garden Inn Southpointe in Cecil Township Thursday, April 24, 2014. Order a Print

An Isotoner outlet store wouldn’t have as many gloves. There were hard hats, too, and protective glasses, boots, ladders, flame-resistant items … virtually everything intended to ensure a hazard-free work environment.

Shannon Safety Products of Bridgeville had its 11th annual Safety Expo Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn Southpointe. Representatives of about 50 manufacturers, all Shannon suppliers, set up display tables outside the ballroom, pitching products, explaining processes, answering questions.

There were seminars, as well, led by safety experts.

The event, appropriately, unfolded in the heart of Marcellus Shale, where oil and gas companies and their supply-chain partners do business – often, a lot of business.

“We’ve seen significant growth in the oil and gas industry over the past four years,” said Greg Gallaway, president of Shannon Safety Products, which he described as a full-line safety house.

“Oil and gas is gaining momentum,” Gallaway added, “and our customers tell us it will continue to grow – and at a quicker pace.”

Tom Weinmann said simply, “Oil and gas have been huge, especially in this area.”

He is a full protection specialist for 3M Co., and chortled mildly as he explained that 3M is much more than tape and Post-it products. “We run the whole gamut of safety products.”

He and senior account representative Chuck Cellini, a Southpointe resident, manned a table adorned with welding helmets, air circulation units, glasses and flame-resistant items.

Weinmann held up a ventilator with a hose that provides a flow of cool air to the helmet, enhancing the comfort of a worker while keeping particles off his or her face.

“I come to Western Pennsylvania often because of oil and gas. That’s a major part of my business here,” said Weinmann, who lives in the Cleveland area and covers five states.

Mike Hoffer is a sales manager for Spilltech, which makes sorbents and containment products for spills and leaks. His territory is the northeastern United States.

“If it leaks, spills or sprays, we’ll take care of it,” said Hoffer, an Altoona area resident who was not relating a company slogan, but an impromptu thought that should be a slogan.

“The oil and gas industry definitely has helped our business in Williamsport, northern Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh area and West Virginia. We’re seeing a lot of people from elsewhere in the country coming here,” Hoffer said.

“We do a lot of oil and gas business here. It’s really exploded in this part of the state and the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming,” said Stuart Perdue, national sales representative for Safehouse Signs Inc. His Roanoke, Va.-based firm manufactures safety signs and other identification products.

The variety of products on display was phenomenal, some of them beyond the comprehension of many who don’t don safety gear at their workplaces. Portable gas detectors, flashlights, lamps, first-aid kits, earplugs, even energy snacks and hydration drinks.

The vendors were from different regions of the nation, some firms represented by employees from offices in the Pittsburgh area. Shannon Safety deals with all of them.

Gallaway, a Mt. Lebanon resident, is a second-generation owner. His father started the enterprise in 1960 in Castle Shannon and moved it to Mt. Lebanon about 15 years later. Shannon Safety relocated to its current venue in 2001, on Commercial Street near Chartiers Creek and McLaughlin Run.

He said his customer base is largely tri-state, within a 150-mile radius of Bridgeville, but there are some national accounts.

“The business has grown fairly well,” he said.

So has the expo, which started small a decade ago and now annually attracts a collective audience in the hundreds. It starts at 8:30 a.m. and wraps up around 3 p.m.

“We have 300 to 400 people at different times,” Gallaway said. “Seminars are a big thing, in addition to products and new items.”

Seminars and safety products surely are integral to this annual expo. But, as many manufacturers on hand Thursday can attest, the oil and gas industry is part of that supply chain.

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won seven individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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