Shelley Garner of CoorsTek shares with us everything she knows about industrial ceramics.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: And welcome back to Texas Business Radio, texasradio.com is the website, go see the entire broadcast and beautiful high definition video. We are at the George R. Brown convention center in Houston Texas at the 47th Turbo Machinery and 34th Pump Symposia. That’s a big long name for the Turbo Show we go to every year. We’re talking about rotating equipment and in Texas that is big business.
We’re going to talk a little bit about ceramics. We have Shelley Garner here from Coors Tek. How are you doing Shelley?
Shelley Garner: Great.
Matt Register: So tell me something about the ceramic industry, because we’re here talking about rotating equipment, we’re talking ceramics with your company, but we’re not talking about coffee mugs and plates. Tell me a little bit about what you guys do.
Shelley Garner: No, no we’re not, you’re absolutely correct. Any motor or tool that has a rotating face, that’s going to encounter wear, exactly these types of pumps and motors that are at this symposium, people who are making them or buying them, they experience wear. When you’re using a tooled steel, it starts wearing down, right.
Matt Register: Anytime you have friction something’s going to wear right?
Shelley Garner: Right, you don’t get the performance that you need, okay, so it wears out. Ceramics don’t. Ceramics don’t rust, they don’t wear, they don’t erode, they don’t corrode, I mean they’re amazing materials. Amazing materials.
Matt Register: It’s a material that wears slower than metal, right, than steel, but it is more expensive, so there are times where the application, it makes sense to spend a little more money right?
Shelley Garner: It warrants. Yes it does. It warrants because especially if you have a pump that’s, if you can get three more months, two more years, eight more days, depending on where it is down hole deep, you don’t want to have to rip it out, it’s worth. If that component in ceramic, it is 10 times, or five times, or 20 times what the tooled steel was, if it saves you that time, time is money.
Matt Register: No, I understand. So there are times where the cost of going down to` repair something, the cost of switching out far exceeds the amount you’re going to spend in the ceramic to actually put it in there right?
Shelley Garner: Absolutely.
Matt Register: Now what are some of the industries that you guys are in? We were talking during the break and absolutely fascinating, because you’re in industries I had no idea you guys were in, right?
Shelley Garner: I didn’t until I started working for this company.
Matt Register: So tell me about some of those industries.
Shelley Garner: We’re in automotive, ceramic brakes, ceramic pistons, all sorts of parts and pieces in a car that don’t need to heat up, don’t need to electrically conduct, don’t need to wear. Household durables, your blender, your dryer, your washer.
Matt Register: Okay, no kidding, so you guys are in all kinds of things.
Shelley Garner: Energy, obviously we’re talking about that, down hole, up on land, out of hole, these pumps, … medical.
Matt Register: All kinds of industries, right, medical stuff, okay.
Shelley Garner: Hip, joints, hip replacements, dialysis machines, the little pump piece that takes the calibrated fluid amount, turns and caveats and spits it back out, it has to be biomedical not absorptive and all that stuff. So we’re everywhere. We’re everywhere.
Matt Register: Now needless to say there’s a huge engineering component in your business right?
Shelley Garner: Yes, yes.
Matt Register: So how often do people come to you knowing exactly what they want? How often do they come to you with a problem saying, I need this to not wear out or I need this to be more durable and how much are you guys actually doing the engineering to get to the bottom of the solution of that?
Shelley Garner: It’s always the problem. We don’t make anything, a bunch of anything and sell it off the shelf or on the web. Everything is a custom engineered solution. So, they come to us and say here’s this part or component that’s having this problem, wear, corrosion, erosion, what have you, how can you fix this for me? So then we look at the tool drawing and sometimes it’s more than one part that needs to be in ceramic, sometimes they think it’s this whole piece or part and we’re like, no, you just need that in ceramic.
Matt Register: Got it, and in ceramic is not one solution, there is a lot of flavors of this that would have different components to it, different characteristics to it.
Shelley Garner: Right. Think about it like plastics, okay. You have plastics that cover a toothpick or a pen, you have, your mouse is plastic, those ear things you have on are plastic. They’re different formulas of plastic depending on the performances you need, right, what you need it to do. Same with ceramics.
Matt Register: Interesting.
Shelley Garner: Same with ceramics.
Matt Register: Well and it’s always good to know that there’s a solution out there or somebody that can help you solve a problem, right?
Shelley Garner: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Matt Register: So tell me a little bit about your company itself, because Coors Tek, we were talking during the break, you told me about some of the background of it, I’d love to hear, let our audience hear a little bit about some of the background of your company because Coors Tek is the Coors family, the beer empire right?
Shelley Garner: Yes. It’s family owned, it’s a privately held company. It’s owned by the same family that owns the beer company, Coors Beer.
Matt Register: Contrary to what everybody’s thinking, they do not need ceramics in the beer manufacturing.
Shelley Garner: Now but you could have a ceramic mug and drink a beer out of it.
Matt Register: There you go, there you go.
Shelley Garner: Yeah, yeah.
Matt Register: So they own the company, this is a pretty large company, 6,000-7,000 employees all over the world.
Shelley Garner: About 6,000 employees and growing, we’re growing by leaps and bounds. We have 48 facilities around the globe for manufacturing. We’re headquartered in Golden Colorado, but like I’m here in Houston. There’s no office, office here in Houston, but I’m in the middle of the oil business and that’s where I need to be to reach my customers and help them with their needs.
Matt Register: No, makes a whole lot of sense, what’s the easiest way for somebody to learn more, should they want to learn more?
Shelley Garner: Coorstek.com.
Matt Register: Coors Tek, C-O-O-R-S-T-E-K.com. Coorstek.com, we’re going to have that link right from texasbusinessradio.com, if you’re driving and can’t take notes. Thank you very much, Shelley Garner ceramic applications advisor for Coors Tek, thank you very much for joining us.
Shelley Garner: Thank you.
Matt Register: We’re going to be back right as we pay a couple of our own bills right here on 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.