Ed Wallace Construction
When, in 2010, Shane Hinson was asked to run Ed Wallace Construction (EWC), he saw an opportunity to help the small full-service pipeline construction company discover new markets in the Southeast.
At the time, Hinson was the director of operations at a much larger general contracting company in North Carolina, “and the market was prime for a new kid on the block.”
Founded in 1992 by Ed Wallace, the Stanley-based construction company provided installation and repair services for petroleum and natural gas pipelines in North Carolina. It had a small, yet effective, workforce of 15 employees, and a reputation as a dependable subcontractor.
While Hinson knew there were no guarantees he would have leeway to grow the company the way he wanted, “I knew Ed Wallace Construction had potential, and I like to take risks,” he adds.
In the end, the leap of faith paid off.
Since 2010, Hinson has used his knowledge of the industry, as well as his ambition, to expand EWC throughout the Gulf Coast and Atlantic seaboard, completing new installations, repair work, pipeline system upgrades, integrity checks and emergency response for some of the country’s largest pipeline systems.
EWC’s services have grown to include anomaly digs, pipeline coating, hydrostatic testing, new installation, pipeline relocation, and tank farm and terminal work in both petroleum and natural gas industries. All of which has required growing the company’s workforce to over 100 employees.
Today, as it celebrates 25 years in business, Hinson looks to this workforce as the source of EWC’s success. “Because if you don’t have good people, then I don’t care who you are, you won’t make it 25 days in this business let alone 25 years,” he says.
In the pipeline industry, it’s who you know
Even after all this growth, EWC is still a relatively small company in pipeline construction, which Hinson says is one of its assets.
“We are not tied to a large corporate structure so we don’t have a lot of the administrative overhead, which makes us a lot more flexible and competitive,” he says. “And as far as resources, we can handle any size job because we know how to ramp up or down as we need it.”
In the pipeline industry, there is a large pool of workers who jump from job to job instead of staying with a single company. Because EWC is a household name in North Carolina, it can easily tap into the state’s workforce and build up a team of qualified project managers and field laborers as projects require.
As EWC has expanded, it has adapted to the unique weather, soil and working conditions of each state.
In 2015, for instance, EWC took on a swamp in order to relocate four miles of 10-inch pipe in Orlando, Florida. The conditions for the project were muddy and impossible to drive through, so the company had to bring in several dewatering systems and laminated mats just to provide access to the job site.
“Really, the actual work on the project was minute compared with the protective measures we had to put in place,” Hinson says. But even with these complications, the company finished the project ahead of schedule and within budget.
“When people look at Ed Wallace Construction, they may see a smaller company, but once people work with us they realized we have the capabilities to perform any size project and we always get very high praise and our guys get very positive feedback.”
“When people look at Ed Wallace Construction, they may see a smaller company, but once people work with us they realize we have the capabilities to perform any size project and we always get very high praise and our guys get very positive feedback,” Hinson says.
Today, 90 percent of the company’s work comes from repeat customers, some of it from the biggest names in energy and pipeline construction.
EWC has also become the preferred emergency responder for several of these companies’ large pipeline systems. This is time-sensitive work because these lines carry flammable or explosive substances, including natural gas, gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. EWC is on call 24/7 in case there’s a leak or rupture in the line.
“Our clients know they can rely on us no matter if its midnight or New Year’s Day,” Hinson says. “As soon as the management team gets the call we mobilize immediately and we’ll travel anywhere.”
Safe for another 25 years
To keep employees safe in these potentially explosive situations, EWC makes sure they are well-trained. Every year, the company shuts down for a week to hold safety training sessions for the entire office. Even though it’s costly, Hinson says knowing his employees are safe in the field helps him sleep at night.
“Everyone knows that at this company, its family first and job second,” Hinson says. “It’s why we have such a low turnover rate, because people understand and respect our core beliefs.”
Even as the company celebrates a quarter century in business, Hinson is not ready to slow down. He even hopes to open another location in the Southeast to support EWC’s growth.
“We’re in this mode where we want to establish new customer relationships and even double and triple in size so we can look forward to another 25 years in this business,” he says.
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