On February 15, 1921, in Charleston, West Virginia, H.B. McJunkin and Bernard Wehrle, who were brothers-in-law, opened the doors of McJunkin Corporation. They were equipped with $8,000 and a strong combination of determination, charisma, and work ethic.
Within a mere three years, George Herscher, a third brother-in-law, joined a forge shop and a warehouse, three branch offices, and a business that had already grown from a two-man, one-room operation.
Each of the brothers-in-laws’ descendants has played significant roles in the development of the company. They also guided McJunkin through heart-breaking events such as the 1975 corporate plane crash and the difficulties of World Wars Two and the Great Depression. Additionally, they achieved tremendous growth and success by making key acquisitions, including Valves Joliet and California Supply Republic, Supply Grant, and Pipe Appalachian.
“Would likely not be astonished,” but would, naturally, be immensely satisfied with the remarkable expansion of the company, as expressed by Henry B. Wehrle Jr. In the preface of the McJunkin Pictorial History in 2009. “The company’s originators never possessed a restricted perception of the company’s forthcoming.”
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Lewis and Betty Ketchum established Red Man Pipe & Supply Company 56 years later and almost 800 miles away. Through his corporation, Ketchum, a Native American from the Delaware Tribe, aimed to contribute to his community by offering job prospects and educational support for underrepresented groups.
From humble beginnings, Man Red had achieved annual sales of more than $250 million, with 38 branches, when founder Ketchum unexpectedly passed away. In a national trade publication, Ketchum revealed that the company’s success was due to their ability to deliver high-quality products and excellent service, which allowed them to become the “Choice of Supplier.” In 1995, Man Red was acquired by Supply Vinson, who continued to uphold Ketchum’s ultimate goal of being the preferred supplier. Ketchum’s first desk was actually a table card, and his wife served as the corporate secretary.
Actually, both Bernie Wehrle and Craig Ketchum serve as members of the MRC board of directors. The merger of Red Man and McJunkin Corp, two successful family businesses, took place in 2007. Craig Ketchum’s mother led the company alongside him until he took over as president and CEO.
A combination of two entities of equal status.
The integration of the two groups into a single, influential supply corporation was remarkably smooth, as both companies shared a strong commitment to customer service-oriented business practices. The teams from McJunkin and Red Man contributed unique skill sets, which was an additional advantage. Red Man specialized in the upstream market, while McJunkin excelled in the downstream market. As a combined organization, they formed the first PVF distributor in North America, capable of supporting customers from the oilfield to the market.
MRC attributes the ability to achieve global growth to its skilled workforce — a significant number of whom possess extensive experience in the PVF industry. Nevertheless, after the merger, MRC established a new global headquarters in Houston, enabling the company, now known as McJunkin Red Man Corporation or MRC, to concentrate on expanding its supply reach as the preferred choice for global suppliers.
Rory Isaac, the executive vice president of business development, stated that by leveraging our national and international connections, we are capable of utilizing our global influence to assist our clients in achieving their objectives. He further added that although our customers continue to receive the same localized service as before the merger, they now have the added advantage of accessing more than 400 global service facilities to cater to their maintenance, repair, and operations or project requirements.
MRC has completed multiple deliberate takeovers following the merger, which encompassed purchasing the remaining 49% of Midfield Supply in 2008 and LaBarge Pipe & Steel in 2008, as well as Transmark FCX in 2009. Each of these enterprises contributed unique aspects, yet all shared a comparable array of fundamental principles with MRC, namely outstanding customer service, reliability, and superior merchandise.
A worldwide presence.
In North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australasia, the modern MRC has made significant progress since its modest beginnings, delivering high-quality goods and services to its customers. Over 400 service centers are accessible, providing carbon, stainless steel, and anti-corrosion pipes, valves, and fittings. Furthermore, the product range also includes oil country tubular goods and associated drilling equipment.
Among the markets it caters to are:
• Oil and gas survey • Distribution and transport • Chemical • Petrochemical • Power • Pulp and paper • Refining.
MRC, the management executive team of more than 100 years of experience in serving industry and energy markets, also relies on its rich history of customer-centered service business practices with a core focus on company-wide competencies. In fact, Gary Ittner began his career as an administrative chief officer and vice president executive at the University of Cincinnati in 1971, working part-time for McJunkin College.
Employee development • Teamwork • Financial performance • Operational excellence • Customer satisfaction • Business ethics • Safety leadership • Community involvement.
Recently, MRC opened a representative office in Shanghai, believing that having resources on the ground in emerging markets like China will allow the company to assess the quality of assessments, strengthen its position in vendor relationships and sourcing, and offer greater in-plant inspections at key manufacturers in the area.
The company relocated its Singapore addition to a complete new facility, with automation and engineering/modification valve and workshop services, warehousing, and a square footage of 45,000 meters. The hub will test equipment of various sizes, ranging from 1.8 meters to larger ones, and also test valve benches with a maximum size of 36 inches. Additionally, the company will provide three houses for testing purposes in Asia.
L.J. Han, the regional vice president-Asia of MRC, stated that they are no longer just a distributor, but rather a complete solution provider that adds value to businesses’ customers.
SPF, the largest distributor of stainless steel piping products in the southern hemisphere, has proven capabilities in supplying water desalination and treatment, petrochemical and chemical processing, mineral and mining, and gas and oil industries. With locations across Australia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Italy, Korea, and Australia, SPF is a leading specialist in supply projects. The recent acquisition of MRC will further enhance SPF’s global project capabilities. Starting from the end of June, MRC will now operate as SPF Pty Ltd Australia Fittings and Pipe Stainless.
In both the UK and the Jebel Ali Free Zone, UAE, there are strategically positioned stockholdings, along with two extra stocking locations in Australia. The Perth facility, spanning an impressive 430,000 square feet, will serve as MRC’s leading center for stocking and distributing pipes, fittings, and flanges in Australasia. This facility is furnished with cutting-edge materials handling facilities, which include the capability to support project laydowns and offer bulk supply provisions.
MRC’s acquisition has resulted in a boost to their global PFF stockholding in stainless steel, with a value exceeding US$50 million and global stainless PFF sales surpassing US$300 million.
MRC chairman, president, and CEO Andrew Lane stated that this acquisition advances our goal of becoming the leading PVF distribution company in the world, serving the energy and industrial sectors. Lane expressed enthusiasm about MRC’s valve platform, which will enable the company to enhance its comprehensive global PVF supply capacity. Additionally, MRC is thrilled to strengthen its position in Australia and contribute to major EPC projects worldwide. Furthermore, Lane expressed satisfaction in welcoming Graham Yarker and Jeff Nicholas to the MRC management team, as well as all 145 employees of SPF who will be joining MRC upon the completion of this acquisition.
To meet its primary goal of providing top-level customer service, MRC must adapt to the constantly changing and growing industry in recent boom activity in the North American Plays Shale.
MRC America has strategically acquired Supply Tools Oil Dresser to better serve its customers in the Bakken shale region and the surrounding area. The company has also expanded its presence in the heart of the Ford Eagle shale play in South Texas, as well as in other major shale supply hubs and newly established branches across North America.
EVP Rory Isaac expressed, “in these areas, our customers’ objectives coincide with our efforts in business expansion and operational goals as we consistently assess them and prioritize these shale opportunities, MRC.”
The company has developed a strategic “sourcing” process, which relies on six key principles for managing projects that create value and solutions for customers. Another key strength of MRC’s is its total project management system.
Our sole source model ensures cost control, high-quality products, and reliable delivery, enabling customers to achieve their economic, commercial, and technical objectives. We leverage our extensive scale and purchasing power and maintain strong relationships with manufacturers. Our dedicated project management team and global MRO and project experience further enhance our capabilities, enabling us to drive efficiency and decrease overall expenses.
Simultaneous commemorations took place on February 15 in Tulsa, Charleston, and Houston to commemorate the 90th establishment milestone of what is currently known as MRC. The individuals who founded MRC and every staff member who contributed to its enduring legacy were recognized during these festivities.
President and CEO Andy Lane stated, “Throughout our 90-year history, we have consistently found solutions to overcome these obstacles and position MRC for triumph. However, our dedicated employees have tirelessly confronted numerous challenges, including the recent economic downturn.” “With a 90-year track record of accomplishments to draw upon, there are few companies that can match our leadership in our respective industries.”
On a significantly grander magnitude, the organization persistently strives towards a future in which they embody the Supplier of Choice, as stated by Lewis Ketchum. MRC remains, just as Jerry McJunkin and Bernie Wehrle imagined 90 years ago, The House that Service Built, boasting immense satisfaction in the exceptional level of service extended to each customer.