NAPCA Convention Discusses Economy, Safety; Inducts Two Into Hall Of Fame

July 2013, Vol. 240 No. 7

Erin Nelsen Parekh, Associate Editor

The 49th annual NAPCA convention met in Indian Wells, CA from April 24-27, featuring the highest attendance level since 2008 and honoring an unprecedented two new entrants into its Hall of Fame.

President Joel Chermak of Midwest Pipe Coating reported that the organization has added 10 new members in the last year, and for the last two years has donated ten $1,000 scholarships per year to Kilgore College in Kilgore, TX. This year 235 people attended the conference. “We’re in growth mode. That’s a good thing,” Chermak said.

The convention’s business sessions heard updates from several speakers, including INGAA Foundation Executive Director Rich Hoffmann on the outlook for pipeline construction, which Hoffmann summed up in one word: “Excellent.” He cited increasing understanding of shale and advancing technologies as reasons the domestic supply forecast would continue to improve, with more onshore manufacturing and the potential for natural gas to take over more markets in heating and power generation as drivers for continuing escalation in demand.

Hoffman pointed out that barriers to increased natural gas use remain. In the Northeast specifically, he saw efforts to reduce emissions by increasing natural gas use limited as merchant generators without firm transportation contracts found existing pipeline infrastructure insufficient to fill their needs as well as utilities’.

The phenomenon, which Hoffman said was playing out in several areas of the country, demonstrated the need for more pipeline capacity into the region, but “the question is who’s going to pay for it? {Pipeline companies] are not going to build it just because they’re nice guys. FERC rules require that you have an open season, that you establish demand for the product and for the facility and that you get people to sign precedent agreements and show there’s a demand before they even let you build. So you can’t just build because you say, New England needs more [infrastructure] and we’re going to build it, unless something changes in the process—and that’s possible. Change might be needed and that may very well happen.”

He also highlighted safety efforts, including INGAA’s zero-incident framework and risk-management steps for pipelines outside of high-consequence areas.

The convention’s second speaker was Timothy Alan Simon, who ended his service on the California Public Utilities Commission in January. Simon held the position during the San Bruno explosion, and spoke about that disaster as well as energy politics in California and nationally. He cited the need for more education in science, technology, engineering and math. He pointed out the importance of public opinion on safety and environmental issues.
“I know that a piggable pipe that is properly managed can be 100 years old and still effectively operate, particularly with the technologies that you provide,” he told the audience of pipe coaters. “But the fact that Line 132 in San Bruno was over 60 years old really had a perception impact on the public, in terms of infrastructure and the age of infrastructure.”

The group also hosted Dr. Donald McNeeley, president and COO of Chicago Tube & Iron, who centered his talk around an expectation of renewal in manufacturing and industry. Over the next three years McNeeley projected $1.1 trillion in industrial activity in the United States, with the manufacturing sector growing faster than the economy in general. He pointed out the scope of productivity gains in manufacturing in the United States with an example from his company’s pipe-making process: steel production took about 12 man-hours per ton in 1974. “We can now make a ton of steel in 15 man-minutes.”
Social events in the evenings were well attended, with the convention’s “California Dreaming” banquet on Thursday night inspiring creative coastal attire and an active dance floor. The golf tournament on Friday fielded 22 teams.

Jim Harvey, left, with NAPCA 2013 Hall Of Fame honoree George Stoddard. Image: NAPCA.

At the final awards banquet attendees witnessed the induction of two new members to the NAPCA Hall of Fame, George Stoddard, former owner and president of Mobile Pipe Wrappers and Coaters of Adelanto, CA, and Rick Schok, current owner and former president of Flowline Alaska of Fairbanks, AK. Both men are past presidents of NAPCA and Schok was also re-elected to a second term on the NAPCA board of trustees. NAPCA Hall of Fame candidates are first nominated by the membership, then screened by a committee and finally voted in by previous Hall of Fame honorees, the board of directors and the managing director. This was the first time that two people have been inducted in the same year.

As a new initiative for 2013, NAPCA invited retired members back to the convention, succeeding in attracting 25 retirees and guests. Managing Director Merritt B. Chastain III said the organization hoped to increase retired member attendance further next year, especially in light of the convention’s 50th anniversary.

NAPCA’s 50th annual convention will be held April 23-26, 2014, in Bonita Springs, FL.

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