Case Studies

Paso Robles Tank Inc.

The One-stop-shop for Fully Integrated Industrial Tank Design, Fabrication and Installation

Paso Robles Tank Inc. (PRT), a California-based custom tank manufacturer, is one of very few in the industry to engineer, design, fabricate, shop blast, prime, erect and field-coat every tank in-house. Associated Construction and Engineering Inc. (ACE), PRT’s parent company, ensures the company will prosper for years to come.

“We’re one of the only fully integrated tank contractors on the West Coast, which is Steel Structures Painting Council [SSPC], Steel Plate Fabricators Association/Steel Tank Institute [SPFA/STI] and National Association of Corrosion Engineers [NACE] member,” shares Larry Wombles, CEO of ACE.

PRT’s approach is unique in the industry, delivering full integration from start to finish. From design to site work, fabrication to shop coatings and field erection, PRT completes every project with precision automation and state-of-the-art machinery with the utmost attentional and detail.

“We’re very focused on what we do in the welded steel tank market,” says Wombles. “We’re not the largest out there, but our size gives our clients an advantage because we offer personalized attention from concept to completion.”

Small Shop to Industrial Competitor

Wombles and his partners purchased PRT in 2006 when the company was a significantly smaller operation producing shop tanks and stainless steel wine tanks. “We purchased the company in 2006, growing it from approximately $2.5 million to $68 million in 2012,” reveals Wombles. “We brought in more talent, manpower and equipment during this time. From 2010 to today, we built several hundred tanks in our industry, and PRT is the proud recipient of SPFA/STI Tank of the Year from 2010 through 2013.”

The SPFA/STI award-winning design, fabrication and erection for special storage included a low pressure gas holding tank in Moreno Valley, Calif., for Eastern MWD.

“In 2011, ACE purchased RSH Construction Services (RSH), thus providing PRT the ability to expand its operational potential further by having the ability to provide turnkey projects,” continues Wombles. “In 2012, we hit $102 million and found that amount of growth was actually a little too much for our then-infrastructure, but as other firms were down-sizing their operations, we were expanding PRT’s potential.”

The California-based company, with 160 employees, has achieved a steady balance with organic growth. “We serve our multitude of water, oil, wine and specialty customers in California, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada and Washington State,” details Wombles.

Keeping it Covered

While increasing its geographical footprint, PRT has also expanded services to include industrial coatings of tanks, stacks, clarifiers, digesters and process tanks, including high-heat immersions coating systems, such as baked and air cured phenolic and modified phenolic epoxies.

“We have completed projects involving coating systems, such inorganic zincs, polyurethanes, phenolic epoxies, polyamide cured epoxies, amine cured and conventional coatings, such as alkyds, vinyl and chlorinated rubbing coatings,” lists Wombles. “We apply protective coatings from trusted manufacturers, such as Devoe, Ameron, Tnemec, Sherwin Williams and Carboline.”

The company’s sandblasting and painting equipment is some of the finest in the industry, meeting all federal, state and local safety standards. “We offer a complete shop abrasive and priming operation,” notes Wombles. “With our automatic machines we are capable of blasting and priming 10,000 square feet of white metal per-day.”

PRT’s commitment to quality control is second-to-none, as a SSPC QP-1, QP-2 and QP-3 certified contractor. “We also offer in-house full coating certifications in accordance with SSPC and our in-house Nace inspectors,” adds Wombles.

Water to Wine

Over the years, PRT has entered a range of markets, from water to petroleum, wine to green energy. A large portion of the company’s volume comes from the water world. “We are members of the AWWA where we attend annual conferences throughout western United States,” shares Wombles. “PRT works with local water districts and municipalities, as well as smaller water companies, building simple water tanks, specialty designs, digesters, surge tanks, low-pressure gas holding tanks and other standard type tanks.”

Wombles goes on to note that PRT recently delivered a 2.5 million gallon lighted water tank for the city of West Sacramento. “I believe this tank is the type work where PRT excels and should be our 2013 SPFA/STI Tank of the Year winner,” he says.

When it comes to the petroleum industry, PRT serves some of the biggest names in the market. “Our roots were founded in the oil fields of California,” points out Wombles. “We have a vast array of experience with our field crews and technical teams, working with small producing facilities to large refineries and our structure allows us to self-perform all facets of the trade.”

In the oil field, time equals money and PRT ensures crews are ready to mobilize quickly. The company’s in-house service allows for quick turnaround between welding and coating. From inspections to repairs, recommendations and estimates, PRT looks out for a range of oil and gas industry clients.

Located in the heart of some of California’s best wine country, PRT has been building wine tanks since 1999. “The private winery market is one of our largest sectors of the business,” reveals Wombles. “Paso Robles, Calif., was recently rated by Wine Grower’s Magazine as one of the best areas in the world to grow grapes. We’re the only stainless steel wine tank manufacturer in this area so we do very well, we still compete but we have a large market share primarily due to our dedication to quality and service.”

PRT utilizes its own resistance welder and mechanized plasma table for jackets, providing more quality control than other manufacturers. The company fabricates open and closed top fermenters, variable capacity, portable, stackable, slopped bottom and field erected tanks. “If there’s a configuration a client needs, we can build it,” ensures Wombles. “We recently completed a project consisting of 56 specialty tanks, ranging from 35,000 to 650,000 gallons, for the famous Gallo Winery. We had more than 45 crew members on-site at any given time for this job.”

Gaining Ground in Green Energy

PRT also has a strong manufacturing presence in California’s growing green energy market. “We build tanks for ethanol, biodiesel, biomass and solar storage,” notes Wombles. “From a digester to a silo or a thermal energy storage tank, we can design, fabricate and erect it. We regularly attend conferences and trade shows in this arena to stay up to speed with the changes in the alternative energy world.”

Located in Ivanpah, far out in the Mojave Desert, lies one of PRT’s most significant alternative energy accomplishments. BrightSource, a solar energy development company, started construction on the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) in the Mojave Desert in October 2010. The project is the largest solar plant under construction in the world.

The 377-megawatt net solar complex will utilize mirrors to focus the power of the sun on solar receivers situated on power towers. The electricity generated by all three plants is enough to serve more than 140,000 homes in California during peak hours of the day and the development is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 400,000 tons-per-year.

“We don’t always get the entire package,” he continues. “Sometimes we perform the consulting work, as was the case when PRT performed all the design and computer-aided drafting [CAD] for 12 molten energy salt tanks in Gila Bend, Ariz.”

While PRT self-performs nearly all aspects of design, engineering, manufacturing and erection, Wombles says the company does rely on a network of subcontractors it knows and trusts. “Relationships are very important to us,” he assures. “We have a history with our coating painters who are also QP-certified. This ensures that we can expect the utmost quality and reliability not only to PRT, but to our customers.”

Next on the Horizon

While Wombles says growth is welcome, PRT has learned its lesson in the past; sometimes rapid growth isn’t the best route. “In 2012 when we hit nearly $103 million we realized it was a bit too fast too soon,” he shares. “It was a great learning experience and it’s helped us get to the good position we’re in now, and ready to take that next step.”

However, Wombles won’t make the same mistake twice. “We knew the market was turning downward in 2010, so we had to make changes to survive, which included cutting overhead,” he details. “Our thinking at the time was to keep the lights on and our employees working without going into serious debt. When PRT and RSH came under the same roof of ACE that gave us the competitive advantage we needed to survive with a company that could perform complete turnkey services.”

Wombles says PRT has numerous projects down the pipeline to look forward to and plenty of controlled expansion ahead. “We have several large projects on the books and we’re looking to expand into the bolted tank market, as well as possible travel to the Balken Shale of North Dakota,” he reveals. “We’ve sold fabrication-only projects internationally and right now we’re not traveling outside of the U.S., but it’s certainly something we’re considering and could be the next step for PRT in the not too distant future.”

For now, Wombles says it is one state and one market at a time. “We grew from California to Nevada, then Arizona,” he says, “Recently to Washington with the next move to Oregon. North Dakota is also on the horizon with a booming petroleum market and the expansion of shale and natural gas exploration. If the XL Pipeline goes through, there will be more work in that area of the U.S.” Paso Robles Tank Inc. continues to grow alongside an ever-expanding need for renewable energy through a record of trusted, integrated service.

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Spring 2018



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