Managing Member of Texas Compression, Tim Santikos explains the value of qualified employees in the turbine and compression maintenance industry.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Hey guys, welcome back to the show. Texas Business Radio. TexasBusinessRadio.com is the website. I’m your host, Matt Register, Jay Curry had to step out. George Walden is joining us over there in the cohost chair, we’ll get to him in just a second. Couple weeks ago we were at the Turbo Show in Houston. That is Texas A&M’s Turbo Machinery and Pump Symposia. That’s talking about rotating equipment. One of the guys we met there, we decided to bring into the studio. Interesting guy, interesting company that is a rotating equipment company out of Houston. George, what do you think?
George Walden: Well, I love service and repair. Obviously, when you’re at an event like A&M put on, it was an amazing atmosphere. It was a turbo charged event. You’re seeing big business being done in Houston. That’s always exciting for Texas.
George Walden: Meeting Tim, I feel the same way. When rotating equipment breaks down, it has to be repaired. Who do you go to? Well, you go to a guy like Tim.
Matt Register: Well, and I tell you what, rotating equipment has more to do with the economy in Texas than a lot of people realize. We’re talking about pumps, and gear boxes, and turbines, and compressors, and anything that goes round and round. Which is a lot of stuff that impacts a whole lot of the economy of Texas.
Matt Register: Tim Santikos is the president of Texas Compression. Joining us here in the studio. Tim, welcome to the show.
Tim Santikos: Thanks for having me.
Matt Register: Talk to me a little bit about Texas Compression. What do you do? Who do you do it to?
Tim Santikos: Texas Compression was formed in 2016, with the sole intention of really bringing a craft back to rotating equipment. Basically, anything oil and gas power generation. That’s who we service.
Matt Register: Anything that goes round and round, right?
Tim Santikos: Anything that goes round and round.
Matt Register: Now, there’s a little bit of art to this. This isn’t something that necessarily you can hire somebody off the street to come in and do. This takes experience, this takes a lot of knowledge to be able to work on some of this very sophisticated equipment.
Tim Santikos: A lot of knowledge. I, personally, have 20 years experience. My business partner has another 20 years experience, just working with this type of equipment. People off the street cannot do it. That’s one of our biggest shortages right now, qualified people.
Matt Register: Sometimes you’ve got to build those qualified people, you can’t necessarily buy those qualified people, right? If they don’t exist, you’ve got to bring them in and you got to get them up to speed.
Tim Santikos: You have to grow people. You have to teach quality, and you have to teach the craft.
Matt Register: This is a two year old company. This is a company that fairly recently started. What is the hole in the market that you identified that required the starting of another company? What is it that you saw, what problem did you decide to come in and solve for the market place?
Tim Santikos: A lot of our customers needed quick service, quality product, and we were able to come and fill that need, and do it at a really competitive price.
Matt Register: Well, with quick service, very often, and I used to be in the gear business myself years ago, when something’s broken quite often that’s not the only thing that it affects. It shuts down a pretty major operation, right? Getting something back online and turning again, becomes very, very critical to that end customer. What were they not getting in the market? Were they just not finding the folks to be able to come in with short notice and make something turn again?
Tim Santikos: I don’t think that was the case, I think they just … we just came out of a large downturn in the economy. I think, stewardship was one of the things that was lost. You need to be a good steward to your customer. You need to look out for their money. Do a quality job at a competitive reasonable price. That’s really where we wanted to be. We wanted to come in and provide that. Not just because the customer needs us, go in and take advantage of that situation. We wanted to do it right and really grow a lasting relationship.
Matt Register: What industries are you serving right now? You guys started doing because oil field was in a downturn,
you started doing some power generation, what all industries are you in, at this point?
Tim Santikos: At this point actively, power generation and oil and gas.
Matt Register: What part of oil and gas, what type of equipment are you actually going in and working on?
Tim Santikos: We are just in terminals right now. There you have your small frame pumps, small auxiliary equipment, things of that nature.
Matt Register: Okay. Compressors, things like that. Actually, the name of the company is Texas Compression, but you actually a fairly small amount of your work is compression.
Tim Santikos: That’s correct. We originally … our goal was to go after mid stream compression once the market came back, however, we’ve been following the lead of our customers and adapting to their needs. That’s why we’ve maintained a presence in power generation. Now, we’re steadily moving into oil and gas.
Matt Register: Now, the skill set required to work on compressors is the same skill set required to work on a lot of varying kinds of rotating equipment, correct?
Tim Santikos: It is. Most of your reset compressors, they don’t really spin. They have a crank shaft. That’s about the extent.
Matt Register: Only thing that spins, right?
Tim Santikos: Only thing that spins, but the disciplines are the same.
Matt Register: Interesting. Now, talking about the people side of it, where you had talked at the beginning of the segment. Where do you go about finding people with this very specific skill set?
Tim Santikos: I myself, I started in the field. Just by nature, we have a good network of mechanics that we’ve turned wrenches with in the past. Through those individuals, it’s more of a network, finding people through people, and then looking and identifying young talent. Seeing who has the mental aptitude for it. When you think about a large frame turbine, you’re looking at a couple hundred tons, and to think that that piece of equipment is brought into within a couple of thousands tolerance. There’s some magic to that. There’s some skill, and some craft that goes into that, and attention to detail.
Matt Register: We’ve talked throughout the trade show, the labor shortage has been a thing that came up time and time again. I think there’s an incredible opportunity out there for young people that can pass a drug test and show up reasonably on time, to earn a very, very nice living learning a skill. I’d be willing to bet that most young people don’t even know that this is a thing, right?
Tim Santikos: No. It’s amazing. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling and when you think about some of the power plants that I’ve worked in, in the northeast that were a hundred years old, these were things that our grandfathers and their parents … there’s some history there. You’re putting your hands on a piece of equipment that’s older than most things in Houston.
Matt Register: Sure.
Tim Santikos: So there’s a little bit of a romance associated with it. I hate using that term, but this is a, it’s a craft. It’s something to be proud of. There’s a lot of opportunity for young individuals who don’t feel that college is the right avenue for them.
Matt Register: And it isn’t the right avenue for everybody, nor it should be the right avenue for everybody, right?
George Walden: You referenced that there’s a lot of work right now, that a lot of work has been put off because of the downturn.
Tim Santikos: Correct.
George Walden: Can you go into that a little more?
Tim Santikos: We’ve all kind of rolled back when we had that shortage. Things that were critical, had to stay online, they got addressed, but anything that was operational, the maintenance was deferred. Because of that, you don’t run it to the point of failure. Now you’re playing catch up. Now that-
Matt Register: Yeah, pay me now, or pay me later. They decided not to spend the money on the maintenance during the downturn and now they got to catch up, right?
Tim Santikos: They have to catch up. Otherwise, it could cost them.
Matt Register: These are very, very expensive pieces of equipment. Keeping them maintained is a whole lot cheaper and easier than trying to replace, right?
Tim Santikos: Absolutely.
Matt Register: Interesting stuff. What is the easiest way for somebody to learn more should they want to learn more about Texas Compression?
Tim Santikos: Go to our website, www.texascompression.com.
Matt Register: Texascompression.com is the website. We’re going to have a link right there from Texas Business Radio, if you’re driving and can’t take notes. We’ll have it right there on the front page. Texascomprssion.com. Tim Santikos, president of Texas Compression, thank you very much for joining us.
Tim Santikos: Thank you for having me.
Matt Register: We got to take a break. We’ve got to pay some of our own bills, right now, but we’re going to be back right on the other side of the break with a whole lot more Texas Business Radio. Don’t go anywhere.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.
George Walden is a Managing Director and Principal in Corporate Finance Associates’ Houston office with twenty-five years experience as a middle-market investment banker. George is a member of CFA’s equipment industry practice group and an expert in the precision machining industry with special emphasis on manual machining, CNC precision machining, and gun drilling services and has been responsible for several industry-leading transactions. You can learn more about George HERE.