When you produce a product, look at how your customers use it and think about the additional services you can add on. If you get it right, it’s a win-win all the way around.”

Eric Ryan Meyers, CEO, Oil City Iron Works
 

Established in 1866, Oil City Iron Works has a long, rich history in the state of Texas. Originally a producer of cotton gin parts, then World War II defense equipment, the company adopted its present name in 1921 and began focusing on castings for oil field equipment, becoming a pioneer in the use of ductile iron.

In 1981, as the oil bust forced many manufacturers to close shop, Oil City Iron Works downsized from 450 employees to 31 in less than a month. It was at this time that Eric Meyers Sr. took control of the company. Knowing that survival would be tied to diversification, Eric made the difficult decision to reorient the company and expand its focus to products and clients in the agricultural, transportation, and water works sectors, in addition to oil. In 1987, the company began to turn a profit and has never looked back. Today, Oil City Iron Works has 225 employees and ranks among the fifteen largest employers in Navarro County.

However, in 2005 and again in 2011, the company experienced its most significant growth, increasing revenue 50% in a single year. Current CEO Eric Ryan Meyers, son of Eric Meyers Sr., largely attributes the company’s growth to a willingness to both innovate and diversify its product line and an honest and transparent approach with customers.

 

We needed to look outside of the box. We knew that we could sell castings all day. The question that we needed to answer was what were our customers doing after they got our castings?”

Eric Ryan Meyers, CEO, Oil City Iron Works
Oil City Iron Works clients were outsourcing their add-on products and services with other vendors after they purchased castings from the company. This left revenue on the table and made the process lengthy and costly for clients.

The company invested heavily in add-on services and products, making the production process seamless for their customers and increasing revenue on existing parts by up to 400% overall.

CEO Eric Meyers Sr. said, “We needed to look outside the box. We knew that we could sell oil castings all day. The question that we needed to answer was what were our customers doing after they got our castings?” It was the answer to that question that Eric sees as being the biggest contributor to Oil City Iron Works’ growth since 1985.

Eric and his team began to research their customer experience and develop add-on products and services so clients wouldn’t need to outsource after they purchased the castings. As an example, Eric said, “We have a customer who purchases a gas compressor engine part that is a ni-resist casting. This customer used to ship our part to four different vendors after it was purchased. It would get heat treated, then off to a machine shop, then coded, and finally it would be shipped somewhere else for quality control. Today, we provide all of those services from the same location after the casting is complete. It not only increases our revenue on that part by 400% but it also saves the client 150% on original costs.”

Today, the company remains committed to its core business, but when there is an opportunity to invest in add-on services, Oil City Iron Works pounces. As Steve Spradlin, VP-Controller, said, “If we can offer a turnkey casting, with heat treating, surface coating, machining and nondestructive testing, we can eliminate the cost of poor quality to the customer and save them on freight to various downstream add-on service providers.”

It’s a win-win and has been Oil City Iron Works’ formula for expedited growth since the Meyers family took over.

 

If you educate your customers on the issues behind the scenes — what is causing the price increases — they may not like it, but they will be more receptive to accepting it.”

Eric Ryan Meyers, CEO, Oil City Iron Works
Throughout the years, legislative changes and other external factors have forced Oil City Iron Works to increase prices. These price increases historically have led to lost clients.

CEO Eric Ryan Meyers and his team have committed to a transparent cost structure, educating clients on what causes price increases. This transparency has helped the company keep clients during price spikes.

When market conditions force a company to increase its cost of production, all businesses face the difficult decision of whether to share that financial burden with their customers or absorb it alone. Increasing prices and risk driving away clients, or maintain prices and erode margins is a tough choice that almost every business owner faces at some point. However, Eric Ryan Meyers and his team have developed an innovative approach for how to deal with price increases: They’re honest about it.

Oil City Iron Works not only educates its clients on production factors but also shares news on potentially adverse legislation. Eric and his team want their clients to not only understand how future policy may impact prices but also have time to plan for it.

In addition to education, Eric is also extremely active in advocating on behalf of the company and its manufacturing peers. “If you aren’t willing to be involved from the top down in representing your political interests, you don’t have a chance to be heard.” Eric partners closely with organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) to represent Oil City Iron Works, and its clients, in important legislation. Eric ends the interview with a bit of advice: “The best advice we can give companies is to stay involved in the political process. You can make an impact working with organizations like NAM and other related trade associations educating our lawmakers as well as inviting them to your facility so they truly understand the importance of manufacturing here in the U.S. and what it is you actually produce.”