Service Mindset a Key on the Path To SuccessBy Pedro Alcalá | Wed, 11/10/2021 - 10:36
Q: What motivated the development of your product lines?
A: Starr Power Tongs was originally established as a component support supply chain for spare parts to Timco Services. For 35 years, the Team ran Timco Services until it’s buy-out by Frank’s International. The team would provide replacements for device components that had failed and which clients could not get from their vendor. The Starr team would manufacture these components themselves. After making many widgets, they decided that it was a good idea to just build the entire tool. Soon after, the first reverse engineered tong was assembled in its entirety. This product line was eventually expanded into three tools. The Starr team hired me in 2017 to review the components and study the engineering process due to issues that had arisen. Then, there was the need for more tools and a greater product line, and I was their first engineer on staff. So, we started creating tools that were more aligned with what the market needed. The company was shifting from a service mindset to a manufacturing mindset and we started taking the end user’s considerations into account. Soon after, the company built and sold tongs abiding to the custom standards and specifications of our clients. After much success, we have almost taken the entire market in the US. Everybody calls us first and loves our tools. Before the pandemic hit, we were getting ready for our international expansion. Obviously, that was delayed. Fortunately, we are again in the midst of expanding, starting with Mexico and South America, while also developing a base in the Middle East.
Q: What are the most important characteristics of your products that led to this level of success?
A: The four tenets of our value proposition are an important part of what sets us apart. The first is cost competitiveness. We might not necessarily be the cheapest but we are the most inexpensive option for the value we offer, considering our tools’ negligible rate of failure and the lack of a corresponding need for spare parts. The second tenet is deliverability. The third is customer service. We base our business on our customer-centric mindset. The service culture starts when customers pick up the phone: when they have an issue, it is our issue too and we are going to address that issue with a degree of urgency. The fourth tenet is the quality of our components. We have competitors that can match our level of quality but their costs are completely outrageous. It also helps that our tools are applicable to both the onshore and offshore contexts.
Q: How do you address component failure?
A: We have built the widgets to take advantage of the material’s strength. The interface between the components has been designed to minimize problematic interactions that encourage component or tool failure; they do not bulge or yield, for example. When a failure occurs, you are typically looking at a chain reaction of slight and sometimes imperceptible failures created by small impacts and frictions that are generated by the cyclical functioning of each component under a certain design setup. It is like a car that has a certain vibration that should not be there. At first the car can take it but by the time that it has driven 30,000km, it starts to create serious problems that affect every part of the vehicle. We also build our tools to be easily serviceable so that if they do fail or require some kind of work done, that failure can be controlled and limited to a certain area of the tool. That way, a small failure does not snowball into a bigger one.
Starr Power Tongs is a global supplier of hydraulic power tongs for offshore and onshore oil and gas applications. It is based in Louisiana. The company has over 100 years of combined experience offering tubular running services (TRS).