Kat Barker, CFO of S.E.S. Global explains the importance of seeking out and staffing valuable manpower in the technical areas of industrial energy providers.
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. We’re down here in Houston, it’s George R Brown Convention Center at the 47th Turbo Machinery and 34th Pump Symposium. It’s the turbo show. It’s rotating equipment, it’s pumps, it’s gear boxes, it’s turbines, it’s anything that goes round and round and that is big business in Texas. Speaking of business we’re gonna talk a little bit about staffing and how do you hire enough skilled workers to come in and do this actual work, right? Because this is something that is a shortage of manpower throughout all of the industries in Texas, especially in the energy and rotating equipment business. I’m your host Matt Register, Jay Currie had to step out for a little bit, he’s gonna join us here a little bit later, but we are joined by Kat Barker who’s the CFO of S.E.S. Global. Kat, welcome to the show.
Kat Barker: Thank you so much for having me.
Matt Register: So talk to me a little but about S.E.S. Global. What do you do? Who do you do it too?
Kat Barker: Well we are a manpower provider for the energy industry. We’ve been in business since 2008 and we service all of the major energy providers. So Mitsubishi, Siemans, Dresser-Rand, those kind of players, and we are providing manpower to them.
Matt Register: So manpower being not necessarily the executive side of it but we’re talking about at the field worker level, correct?
Kat Barker: Absolutely, we’re talking about craft that work in field services, they work in the refineries, and they are the actual people turning the tools.
Matt Register: So when you get these people and you place them, you’re not looking for just warm bodies, you need skilled workers because these are technical positions, these are technical jobs, and they need somebody that knows how to do what it is they’re doing, correct?
Kat Barker: That’s exactly right, so we’re looking for skilled labor. We’re looking for people that know their tools, understand how to read mikes and calibers and can work on rotating and reciprocating equipment.
Matt Register: So where do you find these guys?
Kat Barker: You know, we find them everywhere. So we talk a lot about how Alexandria’s sort of the millwright capital of the world and we do have a large contingent of staff that we garner from Louisiana however we get them from everywhere so we work in all 50 states and Canada and Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, so we’re looking everywhere for the most skilled workers we can find.
Matt Register: Okay, so how does somebody that has a work ethic but no experience, how do they go get those skills to be able to get place in some of these refineries?
Kat Barker: That’s an excellent question. So for us, if you don’t have any experience, we are going to be looking at technical school affiliations so if you’ve taken some sort of auto mechanics class, if you have tool familiarity, even some people that just as a hobby have rebuilt motors or worked on engines, we’re gonna be looking for people like that. So we’re looking for people with a strong work ethic that have a mechanical aptitude at the very lowest end and you know, maybe we can place them as a helper to get them on location where they can do some more on the job training and learn a little bit as they go along.
Matt Register: Well I promise you, a lot of the younger people in this country have no idea the kind of money that somebody can make as skilled labor, right? As soon as they get that first class machinist level or they get to the level, they can make six figures easily.
Kat Barker: Very easily.
Matt Register: If they have the training and if they have the experience, right?
Kat Barker: Yes, absolutely, and primary for us we will work with someone that’s willing to learn and willing to show up and work hard, can pass a drug test, and has a clean background. That’s someone we can work with.
Matt Register: Shows up on time, passes a drug test, you’ve already hit 90th percentile, right?
Kat Barker: Exactly right.
Matt Register: So talk to me about some of the industries you guys are hitting because I know you guys are based out in West Texas, right?
Kat Barker: Absolutely, so our main office is based in West Texas, you just bloom where you’re planted, and we work in the energy industry form top to bottom so we work all the way from the drilling rig all the way to the refinery and we branched out also and work in renewables too. So we work on wind farms, we work on the gear boxes, hydraulic systems, and as other contingencies of the energy industry we have welders and boiler makers and pipe fitters and concrete and grout workers and some of the more, I guess, on the edge or fringe of the energy industry that you don’t necessarily think about them working on a turbine or reciprocating compressor but they’re also very important to make a project happen.
Matt Register: Oh no doubt, and if you cannot find that skilled labor you’ve got to find it somewhere, right?
Kat Barker: Absolutely.
Matt Register: So what size companies are generally your client? I mean, what size companies are hiring you? Because I would assume the bigger guys do, right?
Kat Barker: Yes, absolutely, a lot of the large major companies look for staffing companies in order to vet their employees. Most of the large companies don’t hire off the streets anymore, they like to work someone in their shop or on their locations while they’re really placed with someone else, so they’ll work as our employee on your location so you can try them out before you invest your time and overhead in them.
Matt Register: I gotcha, so you guys are hiring the worker?
Kat Barker: Yes.
Matt Register: The company is then contracting with you to provide labor for them, right?
Kat Barker: Exactly right.
Matt Register: At least for a period of time until they decide that they want them as a direct employee and then they can hire them, correct?
Kat Barker: Absolutely. We actually have some companies that want us to manage their payroll and other overhead functions and HR so they really don’t have any desire to hire. They want to use us as a flex employment solution so they will continue to be our employees even though they’re working on your site. But many of the major companies, this is exactly how they hire. They work them through us for a period of time, auditioning them so to speak before they put them on their payroll full time.
Matt Register: How about smaller companies though? If somebody was in the market for two or three machinists, is that something that’s too small for you guys?
Kat Barker: No, we take every single one, every man hour counts for us, so we’re happy to get 10 man hours as just as happy as we are to get 10000 so every single one counts.
Matt Register: Well, it’s interesting stuff, and I tell you what, every industry we talk too on this show, there is a shortage of skilled labor, and there’s a shortage of even unskilled labor that is willing to show, can pass a drug test, right?
Kat Barker: Exactly.
Matt Register: And you guys having a handful of those guys in your pocket ready to go to work the next day is very helpful for a company that has a project coming up that needs to increase manpower for a project. You guys can work on that basis right?
Kat Barker: Absolutely, and that’s how our business has grown because there is such a shortage and so that’s the niche we fill.
Matt Register: Where are you guys located?
Kat Barker: We’re located in Ranger, Texas. That’s where our primary office is but we have offices in many other locations. So we have an office here in Houston, Clear Lake, in North Dakota. We work in Mexico, out of Mexico City, we also have an established business presence in Canada as well.
Matt Register: Okay, well, logical oil field locations, right?
Kat Barker: Yes, yes.
Matt Register: Interesting. What is the easiest way for somebody to learn more should they want to learn more?
Kat Barker: The best way is just to go to our website, it’s www.sumstaf.com and that’s S U M as in Mary, S T A F dot com.
Matt Register: Sumstaf.com, we’re gonna have that linked directly from TexasBusinessRadio.com if you’re driving and can’t take notes. Kat Barker, CFO of S.E.S. Global, thank you very much for joining us Kat.
Kat Barker: Thank you so much for having me.
Matt Register: And we’re gonna be back with a whole lot more from the 47th Turbo Machinery and 34th Pump Symposia down here at the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. We’ll be back right after we pay a couple of our bills. We’ll be back right on the other side of the break, 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.