In the world of swivel joints and loading arms for the liquid-handling industry, the biggest players more or less provide the same types of products. And yet, OILCO Liquid Handling Systems has managed to maintain a strong base of loyal customers for many decades. Vice President Kevin Skochil says this is due to the fact that OILCO can offer its customers a core of reliable and dependable products, but it also is not afraid to branch out beyond that core and offer variations on its products that fill multiple niches. “We’ve maintained the core,” Skochil says. “How do we make the core bigger, and how do we make the core better?”
OILCO has been in operation in its current incarnation since 1974, but the company’s roots date back to 1935. The majority of the company’s products are utilized for bulk liquid-handling applications, such as in refineries and terminals. The company’s swivel joints and top and bottom loading assemblies are used for bulk fueling and refinement processes, but in recent years OILCO has diversified into water treatment and other types of bulk fluid handling related to environmental infrastructure. Skochil says the company also has a small but strong presence in the steel mill market.
OILCO’s competition by and large offers the same types of swivel joints and loading assemblies, but the company’s advantage lies in the extent of the applications that can be found within its core products. While other manufacturers try to expand into a wider range of product lines, Skochil says, OILCO concentrates on finding the widest range of utilizations for its existing products. “Largely, I think the adaptability of our product line is our greatest advantage,” he says.
“Based on proven core design elements, OILCO has developed the widest application range of a standardized product line,” the company says. “Determined to offer the most performance-driven, affordable and serviceable units in the world, OILCO provides a complex and complete line.”
As an example of the variety found in a single OILCO product, Skochil points to the company’s 90 series of swivel joints. Starting from the product’s base triple-V ring seal design, the 90 series includes 10 variations on that basic design that can serve different applications for different types of customers. “We’ve taken this one core product line and asked how can we serve multiple markets with that one line,” Skochil says. “That’s where we try to keep our edge.”
Working closely with customers is key to maintaining that edge for OILCO, and the company works hard to tweak its product lines whenever necessary to provide customers with a variation on the core product that meets their specific needs. Although the majority of what OILCO manufactures can be called standardized, Skochil says the company is always open to making changes to keep up with customers’ needs. “We don’t start the beginning of the year with a set figure in our mind,” he says.
The company’s ability to provide adaptability and flexibility within a core product line is evident in OILCO’s loading assemblies, as well. “OILCO Liquid Handling Systems has consistently been on the manufacturing forefront of loading arm technology, focusing on safety and programmed performance,” the company says.
Staying On Top
Anticipating the needs of its customers for the future is an essential part of what has kept OILCO on top of the industry, but that also brings with it many challenges. As technology marches forward and the legal and regulatory landscapes change, Skochil says OILCO finds itself working hard to stay in front of all the changes. “We do try to pick up on the cues as best we can,” he says.
Despite the difficulties, OILCO remains dedicated to finding new ways for its core products to serve customers. The company plans to have new additions to the 90 series of swivel joints that will expand them up to 24 inches in diameter in the near future. Skochil says OILCO also sees opportunities in oil refining and bulk transportation that it will attempt to follow up on in the near future.
For the future, Skochil says OILCO is making sure it gets the most out of its core product lines. “We concentrate that way, and our customers know that,” he says.