In this article, we profile Mike Poston, chief executive and president and of WeamcoMetric, a Tulsa-based company that has focused on providing measurement-related products and services to the oil and gas industry for 40 years. During the interview, it becomes readily apparent that Poston is a very spiritual individual, strongly devoted to his family, his business and his industry.
P&GJ: What were your interests when you were younger and what made you decide to get into the energy business?
Poston: We didn’t have the technology kids do today so, like most boys in the ’50s and ’60s, we built things, explored, and used our own imagination and interests to guide us each day along with guidance from our parents and teachers. I credit my parents and grandparents with instilling a great work ethic in me which has served me well.
I kept busy with all kinds of things – sports and a host of outdoor activities. Wrestling taught me a lot of great discipline lessons such as self-reliance and hard work. There’s no other sport where you tie-up with another athlete and one lapse of concentration or lack of effort and you’ll be defeated!
The energy business seemed like a natural choice Tulsa was known as the “Oil Capital of the World.” Every year my grandfather took me to the International Oil Exposition in Tulsa. We had great times inspecting equipment and talking about how different things worked. Growing up in Tulsa I was “in” the oil business all along. My father and grandfather were Tulsa firefighters and certainly taught me well about mechanical things: cars, construction, repairs, and an endless list of things. I graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1972 with a degree in Mechanical Design Engineering. Everyone around me seemed to be connected in some fashion to the energy business in Oklahoma.
P&GJ: What motivated you to start WeamcoMetric?
Poston: Our company was founded as Weamco, Inc. in 1973 by Joseph Boyle and Dave Allert. I began in 1975 as the first engineer. We committed ourselves to doing a better job than our competitors and always put customers first. We always believed that if you do your best and serve your customers well, the rewards and profits will take care of themselves. In 1992, we bought Metric Corp. which was founded in the late ’60s. We’re planning a big family celebration this summer!
P&GJ: What were some of the challenges you had to overcome in creating a successful business?
Poston: As in my younger years, I see challenges more as an adventure and I enjoyed solving problems and helping customers, employees and business partners. It was fun being so deeply involved in building a company from the ground up. Some of the economic downturns in the industry were probably our most difficult challenges. The quality of our work and our reliability kept customers loyal and fiscal discipline and dedicated teamwork helped us weather those tough times. Through good times and bad, we solve problems daily and weekly and produce high-quality products.
P&GJ: How would you describe your leadership style and how has it changed through the years?
Poston: My leadership style is pretty simple: get up, show up, lead by example, and always be honest with people even when it’s difficult. Leadership is always a work in progress but my basic principles have remained consistent. I consider myself to be a “servant leader”; I enjoy helping people grow and excel. I’m highly committed to the success of our business and our employees.
I have a low tolerance for poor work ethic and performance because, in addition to being costly, it’s counterproductive and disrespectful to the rest of our team and our customers. Respect for others is very important to me and it bonds us together as a company, brings out the best in all of us, and makes work life much more rewarding. I try to maintain reasonable expectations for myself and others; I realize that none of us are at our best all of the time and my preference is to try to retain people who seem to have good potential that’s not being utilized as it should be.
P&GJ: What do you feel makes WeamcoMetric unique in the pipeline sector?
Poston: WeamcoMetric is unique in several areas of the pipeline equipment manufacturing sector. To put it in a simple outline:
A.) Diverse product offerings within our niche market
B.) All work is performed at our facilities including complete engineering, manufacturing, and testing
C.) High focus on customer applications and exceptional service
D.) A dedicated, knowledgeable and loyal long-term employee base
E.) 40 years of excellence: proven reputation, quality and performance
P&GJ: What accomplishments professionally and personally are you most proud of?
Poston: My proudest professional accomplishments are watching our company grow and expand, successfully steering it through some tough downturns in the industry, expanding product offerings, mentoring employees and helping customers find solutions to difficult problems. I’m honored to be known as a go-to source for information and help. I’m also pleased to have been asked to participate and serve in professional organizations like API COPM, ISHM, Pipeliners’ Club of Tulsa, Arcadian Measurement School, as well as various customer-sponsored training events.
I also take pride in the business relationships that I’ve forged and maintained. I’m profoundly grateful for all the friends, loyal and dedicated employees, business partners (vendors and customers) that I’ve enjoyed over the years. No person is an island and it takes the whole team to build an enduring company and a loyal worldwide customer base.
My proudest accomplishment personally would be, along with my wife, having raised two wonderful children. Both of our daughters:
– Are great wives and mothers
– Are well-educated, responsible, hard-working citizens of our nation
– Have created loving, Christian homes
– Have impeccable work and personal ethics
– Help and support others and make a difference in our world each day
P&GJ: In 2004 you earned a patent for a Detector for a Meter Prover. What’s the story behind that?
Poston: We have two patented products for the pipeline industry. Both were the result of a customer seeking to solve a problem or find a solution to an application. We worked with both companies using the same approach.
Our corrosion coupon holder was developed and patented as a safe and reliable tool to insert and retrieve a pipeline internal corrosion coupon in a line while under pressure. I did all the design and testing work in 1976 and it is still in use worldwide as the “standard” unit in pipeline use. We have sold thousands and we still use the original design.
The Model M5T Mag-Tek Sphere Detector Switch was developed with the same cooperation with our customer. They had a problem and we worked together to solve and manufacture a solution; the problem was pipeline rouge and debris jamming and wearing out our switch internals. We tried several designs and trials in LPG service, dry and dirty, until we got it right! This switch has proven to be the answer to many applications for dirty and dry service and crude oil service in use with pipe provers, unidirectional and bidirectional. We change out switches for customers on a weekly basis to solve their operational problems. It’s great to have a product to offer when we get a call and know we have a patented detector switch to do the job.
P&GJ: How have you seen the industry change since you began your career?
Poston: The biggest by far is the advancement of technology. Everything is faster and more efficient. It’s always changing and we try hard to keep our company positioned to adapt. I believe that we still need to be out “in-touch” with the steel on a continuing basis. Sitting in an office with a computer won’t provide the “hands-on” experience you learn on the pipeline.
P&GJ: Are there any specific people who especially stand out?
Poston: I’d surely leave out some very important people if I started listing names. There are so many people after all these years and many have become close friends and partners as a result of working together. Someone who deserves special mention is our shop superintendent, Pat Murray; he and I have worked closely together for over 30 years.
It’s been a very unique relationship; Pat and I have developed many designs and our different ways of thinking and perspectives have been very innovative and productive. Pat is an unassuming, pragmatic, hands-on guy and his qualities greatly complemented my role as the design and concept guy. We’ve made a good team.
P&GJ: Will you remain active now that you’ve stepped aside from day-to-day management?
Poston: There is still plenty of work for me to do at WeamcoMetric. I’m helping customers, employees, business partners, and addressing problems that come along. I also serve on the API Committee On Petro Measurement (API COPM); Chapter 4.2 Conventional Displacment Provers and Chapter 4 for Proving Systems. I attend ISHM and API pipeline conferences to keep our company in the forefront as a long-standing manufacturer. Our rapid growth provides plenty of opportunities to mentor new employees and engineers new to pipeline measurement. I am also a board member for Pipeliners Club in Tulsa.
P&GJ: What are some of your interests away from work? Is anyone else in your family involved in the business?
Poston: I am a member and officer at Tulsa Country Club where I have many friends and play with a couple of groups weekly. I enjoy competing in our Men’s Golf Association in just about every tournament. I take several golf vacations a year with my buddies and business friends. I will be looking for expanded volunteer opportunities I’ve been inspired by some of my retired friends at TCC and also members of our church to serve needs in the community.
My family is very close and we spend as much time as possible together. We try to take family vacations every few years. Peggy, my wife, and I were high school sweethearts and have been together for 46 years this March and have been married for 43 years. Peggy is my best friend, rock, and counselor. We have two children, Aletha and Janel, and they brought us two sons-in-law, Ben and Kevin; our daughters certainly found some wonderful husbands with outstanding personal qualities and shared values. They also brought us five wonderful grandchildren: Gabrielle (15), Ian (13), Jonas (11), and twins – Matt and Zach (10). Peggy and I love spending time at our grandchildren’s sports events, school activities and special occasions.
Aletha and Ben work at Crown of Life Lutheran Church in Colleyville, TX. Aletha teaches fourth-grade and Ben recently completed seminary and was ordained as a pastor. Janel and Kevin are in the pipeline business. Janel is the environmental manager for Copano Energy in Tulsa and Kevin handles inside sales and our Mag-Tek product line.
P&GJ: Is there anything you would have done differently?
Poston: Not really. I don’t spend much time looking back unless I feel it can help me moving forward. You can’t do anything about things in the past. I look for ways to contribute to others and plan for the road ahead. Life is too short to second-guess your past. Just be and do your best and it will all work out in the end.