Article by Rhett Morgan for the Tulsa World
A heat exchanger company at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa is planning to invest $6 million to refurbish its plant and expects to add as many as 160 jobs by 2024.
Christina O’Connor, managing director and vice president of operations for Kelvion, made the announcement at a board meeting of the City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority.
The plant’s revamping is in response to an unnamed new product Kelvion will be making for a client. The company has placed an order for robotic welding equipment and is scheduling to begin production on the new inventory at the first of the year, O’Connor said.
“Another one of our plants does business with this customer and they had a new idea and a new need, and they put us in contact with them,” she said.
The new product will require adding 60 jobs (welders, quality, assembly) within next 14 months and another 60 by 2024. The existing plant, which has four locations at the port, will be refurbished and new equipment purchased.
To tackle existing product orders, Kelvion plans to hire an additional 30-40 people in the next three months (welders, assembly, fintube). O’Connor said the company has more than doubled its order intake the past two months.
“We are still very much invested in the oil and gas side of business,” she said. “That will remain our bread and butter. But these new developments and markets with customers have been very exciting, and we are growing at an exponential rate at this point.”
“The market right now is not so easy for finding welders. We’re looking for people who are experienced. We are looking to train. It’s a tall task in this market, so we’re reached out to everybody we can think of.”
Formerly GEA Rainey, the company’s Tulsa roots date to 1964, and the manufacturer moved to the Tulsa Port of Catoosa in 1980. In 2017, Kelvion moved its production from a York, Pennsylvania, plant to the port.
“It’s fantastic to see one of our industries grow, especially when it’s an industry that’s had a tougher time in the last year,” Port Director David Yarbrough said. “We are delighted and excited for Kelvion. They have been here a long time. We want them to continue to be here.”
Employers nationwide continue to face labor shortages during a year in which economic growth is predicted to expand at its fastest clip in decades.
“Like so many companies that are trying to grow, it’s about finding people that want to go to work,” Yarbrough said. “That’s their biggest challenge.
“We’re going to do everything we can to help them and our other companies find those people, get them trained and get them to work.”