Having become a respected steel fabrication business, Steffes Corporation’s innovation allowed it to create custom equipment for many industries. Steffes Corporation’s legacy includes researching and designing the first American-made electric thermal storage (ETS) heating unit for the electric industry, and becoming the leading manufacturer of 400-barrel oil tanks in North Dakota’s Bakken play.
“There isn’t one industry that we cater to, we just search for our niches and reinvent ourselves,” CEO Paul Steffes says.
Steffes Corporation is structured into autonomous divisions it calls “value streams.” These divisions focus on oil, heating and manufacturing.
Steffes Corporation has a reputation for its ability to enhance current products and develop new ones. In addition to oil tanks, the company can provide oil industry customers with walkway and stairway systems, steel secondary containment systems, custom oilfield products, cattle guards, oilfield accessories, treater systems, engineered flare systems and industrial control panels.
“Of our 225 people, about 10 to 15 percent focus on engineering,” President Joe Rothschiller says. “Our customers love that we help solve problems.”
Remaining strong in the oil industry requires the company to stay on top of customer needs. It gets involved in area business councils, keeps up with regulations and has people in the field for everything from talking to roustabout crews to sitting down for lunch-and-learns.
“Our value proposition is taking pain away,” Rothschiller says. “We know the extremes the oil industry works in, and we look at ways to take pain away.”
Steffes Corporation staked a position in the middle of the drilling business. As the Bakken evolves, the company can devise control system solutions for the industry as oil ships beyond the Bakken.
Regular improvements to manufacturing help the company stay current. Steffes Corporation brought the first five-axis laser to North Dakota and has 500-ton and larger presses. The company’s oilfield tanks are manufactured under API12F specifications and oil tank welding is done by experienced AWS-certified welders. In addition, it is pursuing ISO certification.
“We bring a high level of experience and automation to our work for the oil industry,” Steffes says. “We buy new material-handling systems, and we expanded operations this year when we bought a steel fabrication facility in Grand Forks.”
The company invests in external partnerships with suppliers and vendors – such as Challenger Industries, a Bismarck-based distributor of wholesale industrial equipment and supplies. This allows the company to serve customers better by ensuring that operations are tight from the front-end to the back-end of the business.
The oil division isn’t the only busy area for Steffes Corporation that is related to the energy industry. Twenty-five years ago, the company became involved in electricity storage when it began producing ETS units for the electric industry. Even today, Steffes Corporation sees that as an area with extensive potential for growth.
“We can build cost-effective electric storage technology, which will help bring more renewables to the grid,” Steffes says.
Because renewables have a variable generation profile, Steffes Corporation’s heating systems and their storage capabilities have value. The company’s ETS off-peak heating products store renewable power so it is available for heating when needed.
“We’ve spun the renewable energy business off from our heating solutions division, and it will be a separate value stream with autonomy,” Rothschiller says.
Steffes Corporation will continue to provide quality products and services to a diversified customer base. The company is strong financially and has solid growth potential. “We want to grow with the oil industry, but we know that things change,” Steffes notes. “We will continue to look for diversification opportunities.” EMI