Demand pushes K&B Machine Works to expand
An industry leader in oilfield manufacturing and well-completion products, K&B Machine Works established operations in Houma, Louisiana, in 1974 and later launched sites in Houston and Montoursville, Pennsylvania.
K&B excels at full-length pipe-threading for domestic and international oil firms, including deepwater and land exploration. The company operates divisions in welding and fabrication, manufacturing, and tubular accessories. K&B emphasizes product quality and service, with seamless inventory controls enabling customers to repair, store and catalogue drilling components on site for future use.
A commitment to being family-owned, customer-focused and quality-oriented propelled K&B to an average 10 percent annual growth. K&B expanded manufacturing and headquarters operations to 11 buildings on 18 acres in Houma; but over time, workflow bottlenecks surfaced. Some manufactured parts traveled two miles before reaching completion.
With high product demand in 2009, K&B knew a new location would be needed. Though founded in Louisiana, K&B considered Houston for a major facility with a more efficient layout. Additionally, K&B needed more staff to meet rising demand and to increase production.
LED provides growth solutions
After years of expansion support in Louisiana, K&B leaders knew LED could help. Louisiana Economic Development officials were familiar with the demands K&B faced, and LED assured company executives of Louisiana’s commitment to its business. In early 2010, K&B and LED leaders met to identify solutions that could retain company operations in Louisiana. A 35-acre tract in Schriever was identified as a potential relocation site.
Situated near a major highway intersection, the site offered close proximity to major K&B clients and newly built Fletcher Technical Community College facilities. The campus provided an opportunity to train future staff on new equipment, while LED offered the recruitment and training services of LED FastStart® — the No.1 state workforce program in the nation.
Over time, K&B had participated in Louisiana incentive programs, including the Enterprise Zone and Industrial Tax Exemption programs. LED recognized K&B’s expansion made the company an ideal fit for a new program – the Modernization Tax Credit. With that incentive in a new retention package, Louisiana and K&B reached an agreement for the company to reinvest in the state.
“The value of the [modernization] incentive cannot be overstated for a project like K&B’s expansion. The state’s modernization program appears to be tailor-made for what we are looking to accomplish in construction of our new facility.”
K&B Machine Works becomes K&B Industries
K&B acquired the 35 acres in Schriever and began building a 42,000-square-foot Customer Inventory Services Building to enhance parts storage for projects. In March 2012, K&B Machine Works joined state and local officials to announce a $40 million investment in Schriever for a new manufacturing facility and a new company headquarters building. With 200,000 square feet of manufacturing space, K&B would secure its commitment to quality and customer service.
Soon, K&B began preparing for its 40th anniversary in 2014. To acknowledge company growth on that occasion, K&B Machine Works became K&B Industries – with a new name and logo that better captured its world-class offerings. That year, K&B completed the manufacturing plant beside its inventory building at a cost of $30 million. Contemporary design boosted plant efficiency by 40 percent, with parts traveling only one-quarter of the former distance.
LED FastStart supported the new site through job fairs and recruitment videos depicting the work environment, company policies and skills required for the facility’s new technology. While investing in new talent, K&B also expanded its community investment. K&B owners Kenneth Wood Sr. and Kenneth Wood Jr. donated $50,000 to Fletcher Technical Community College. Mori Seiki, a K&B partner, enhanced the donation with $350,000 in Computer Numerical Control equipment to Fletcher. The donations greatly enhanced manufacturing curricula at the college.
K&B Industries innovates in changing marketplace
Soon after settling into new facilities, K&B experienced new uncertainty with a steep downturn in oil prices. That trend deeply impacted South Louisiana, with business leaders like the Wood family facing difficult decisions. To offset volatility in the energy industry, K&B diversified its business.
Research identified the aerospace industry as an ideal match for K&B’s manufacturing skill-set. The company’s commitment to production quality in a climate-controlled, state-of-the-art facility matched the custom engineering and manufacturing precision required by aerospace firms.
In July 2016, K&B Industries earned AS 9100C certification, a key quality standard for satisfying Department of Defense, NASA and FAA requirements. K&B’s aerospace division features CNC axis machining tools, a comprehensive quality lab, cleaning and plating lines, paint and blast equipment, assembly, and packaging capabilities.
By choosing to diversify, K&B withstood the impact of a global energy downturn and increased the competitiveness of 200 highly skilled Louisiana workers at its world-class Schriever facility.
“K&B’s commitment to diversify into the aerospace market has been supported by investment in additional state-of-the-art machine tools, engineering systems and people,” said Mike Moore, vice president of sales for K&B’s aerospace business. “Aerospace is now a permanent part of the DNA of K&B. We believe the long-term fundamentals in the aerospace market merit the investments we have made. We will continue to invest and grow our aerospace market-vertical as a standalone business unit of K&B Industries.”