For William Lee Emick, president, owner and CEO of Appellation Pre Fab LLC, producing pipelines and facilities for natural gas production all comes down to quality. The natural gas and pipeline companies that are customers of Appellation Pre Fab have stringent procedures.
“They have strict rules and regulations and a specific way you do everything to keep it safe and ensure quality,” Emick emphasizes. “We stick to that standard no matter what. If we’re working for a gas company and their standards aren’t as high as the Department of Transportation or federal regulations, we still do everything on that project to the highest quality we can do.”
Appellation Pre-Fab can fabricate piping from 2 inches up to 42 inches in diameter for meter and valve stations, compressor and pump stations, and launchers and receivers. The company works within a 200-mile radius of its Montoursville, Pa., headquarters and fabrication plant.
Growth Each Year
With the growth of the Marcellus Shale near Appellation Pre Fab, the company that was founded in 2009 has experienced growth each year. “We’ve been doing real good, roughly $1.5 million our first year, and $36 million in 2013,” Emick says. The reason is that major natural gas transmission companies are upgrading the compressor and meter stations and other gas-related components for their pipelines.
“The Marcellus is doing a lot better than what they thought,” Emick remarks. “The pipeline systems are old, and they all need upgrading so they can get the Marcellus gas to market. They have larger volumes to move, so they have to increase the diameter of their pipelines.”
Some of these pipelines were built in the 1940s and 1950s. “They have to ensure the integrity of their older lines to make sure they can handle the new flow rates and pressures,” Emick explains. The older lines might have small defects that require the replacement of those defective sections.
Devices called “smart pigs” with ultrasound units on them to detect defects are sent through the pipelines by the natural gas pressure in the pipeline or nitrogen gas. Some move through the pipeline powered by their own onboard electric motors. “They go through every inch of that pipeline to ensure the integrity of it,” Emick stresses.
Appellation Pre Fab builds all the piping for compressor and meter stations in its 120,000-square-foot fabrication facility. Much of the company’s 15 acres is used to store materials and completed components for projects awaiting customer pickup or onsite assembly by Appellation Pre Fab.
The company does all the civil work, grading the station sites along with laying the concrete and installing electrical utilities. It fabricates the pipe in its semi-automated plant. “You try to do the least amount of welding in the field as you can,” Emick notes. “That helps reduce costs.”
Appellation Pre Fab’s welders are tested and certified for each project they work on and retested every six months. “The quality in the gas industry is equal to the quality that they put into the nuclear industry, as far as the welding, and that has to be at the highest standard because they’re dealing with high-pressure gas,” Emick emphasizes.
Emick has hands-on experience in the natural gas industry. “I’ve been in this industry all my life,” he stresses. “I’ve done everything from the ground up. I’ve dug ditches, thrown skids, poured concrete, welded, pipefit, done all aspects of these projects.
“The people I have out here, I want to ensure their safety at all times,” Emick concludes. “So I have a good safe project, and I thank the Lord for that. I can go home and sleep at night knowing I have people on the job that know what’s going on and I don’t have to worry about it. That’s probably your biggest success is having good quality people that know what they’re doing and are doing it safely and productively.”