For Lamons, transformation is sealing the deal for future success
It’s an oft-repeated origin story: An enterprising young firm grows from offering a single item to fill a specific demand to becoming the go-to global source for that product and much, much more. In the case of Lamons, that first offering — the humble spiral wound gasket — would be the platform for nearly 75 years of industry prominence.
Today, the Houston-based firm is one of the world’s largest suppliers of gaskets, fasteners, and hose assemblies, and is on the cusp of a transformation designed to meet the needs of evolving industries.
With primary manufacturing sites in Denver and Houston and branches throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, Lamons is a key supplier to the petrochemical and oil and gas sectors.
Since its founding in 1947, Lamons shifted from being a gasket supplier to becoming a single source for everything required to seal joints. The “one-stop-shop” approach was new in the space; competitors focused on manufacturing and distributing individual components, forcing customers to deal with multiple suppliers to fulfill their sealing requirements.
As the only direct manufacturer and supplier to provide all-inclusive sealing kits, Lamons offers solutions that streamline supply chains and offer customers convenience they can’t find elsewhere. With 670 employees in 21 facilities across three continents, Lamons is fiercely customer-centric. Thanks to careful geographic positioning, Lamons can supply customers in less than 24 hours, and often does it in as few as 2.
Now, while staying tightly sealed to the oil and gas industry, the 74-year-old enterprise is reaching into renewables.
Expanding the markets they serve was top of mind a handful of years ago when company leadership came together to create a future-forward strategic plan. Recognizing the impact of alternative fuels, the rise in popularity of electric vehicles, and renewable energy sources on the energy and petrochemical industries, the company set its sights on broadening its reach.
“We launched a strategic plan to change the dynamics of the business,” CEO Marc Roberts said. “We are bringing our current customers along with us as we add to that customer base with new customers in the geothermal, wind, and solar markets, as well as alternative fuel energy, and in the supply chain of the EV market.” That diversification enables Lamons to align with emerging renewables markets, add balance to their portfolio, and help ease the market contractions that are part and parcel of serving the oil and gas industry.
Preparing for tomorrow, today
As a trusted supplier to the conventional energy market, Lamons has a deep understanding of the complexity and difficulty of resource extraction and plans to leverage that knowledge in the mining aspects of renewable energies and power generation. Lithium, a common element in EV batteries, must be mined. “There’s a lot of heavy equipment in that environment, and there are issues about humidity, about high temperature, and about high loading factors in terms of how much power is going to be needed to move that amount of ore out,” Roberts explained.
There will be some redesign of the product line to accommodate those environments, as well as some of their manufacturing capabilities. In anticipation of the added business, Lamons built a 63,500 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in 2020. “We're probably going to need another quarter of a million square feet in the next three years as well to give ourselves more manufacturing space to meet the demands of these markets in addition to our current product offering,” Roberts said.
“We're planning to also add components that we don't make today based on the fundamental manufacturing techniques that we use, such as CNC machines, and we’ll absolutely expand and adapt our manufacturing capabilities to suit the applications that we’ll be targeting,” he added.
Kristoffer Beezley, the company’s VP of strategic business development, will be leading the evolution into Lamons’ new markets. “Right now we're working with a number of companies that are in wind and solar power generation, and there’s a lot of crossover with the kind of solutions needed in oil and gas, particularly in renewable aviation fuels, biodiesel, and other alternative fuels, ” he said. “We’re listening to the demands of sustainable companies. They're looking for different, unique solutions that are going to match the changing landscape of industry, and we’re matching their enthusiasm.”
The company’s engineering strength comes through three different groups. The engineering service and developmental group provides technical guidance and support. If a client should need an impossible to find component, the team can reverse-engineer the item on site in real-time, send that data back to the manufacturing facility, produce that component, and quickly get it to the customer.
“The group develops new products in response to customer concerns, issues, and aspirations,” Roberts noted. Engineering may even anticipate a need that the customer may have missed. “We bring revolutionary new concepts to solve problems that we see that may not yet be in our customers’ line of sight.”
A second engineering group is devoted to operational excellence, constantly on the hunt for improvements across departments and business units, including manufacturing, sales, finance, and supply chain. “They bring to bear everything from six sigma techniques, lean manufacturing, and theory of constraint techniques, the whole gamut of tools,” he said. “We’re spending the next four months completely realigning our production lines because they identified process improvements that will make us far more effective, efficient, productive, and quicker.”
The maintenance department, a hands-on crew tasked with building new equipment and improving existing equipment, completes the engineering triad. “We are not static in our capabilities,” he stressed. “We will accordion our manufacturing capabilities to provide what our customers need today and in the future.”
The average tenure of the manufacturing team on the floor is 24.5 years, and several employees have exceeded the 40-year mark. “Our people are exceptionally loyal, very bonded to the company. I have multiple generations working on the floor, and they are entrusting their families’ families to Lamons,” he said. “To me, that's the ultimate estimate of doing a good job with your employees. Of course, our customers are very important to us and we focus on them, but at the same time I have 670 families that I want to make sure are getting what they need as well.”
Roberts emphasized the bond shared by everyone in the organization as fundamental to the company’s shining future. “If I had my preference, I’d throw away business cards and titles because they don't really matter,” he said. “At the end of the day our job is to serve our customers and take care of our family. That’s what should be on everybody's business card.” Should Roberts ever make that change, we suggest a descriptor that will fit every contributor to the Lamons organization: revolutionary.
Lamons is one of the largest Gasket, Bolt and Hose Assembly manufacturers in the world that is privately held.
Our mission is to provide industry-leading Safety Sealing and Attachment Solutions through our Valued Quality Products, Exceptional Service and with a culture of Never-Ending Continuous Improvement.
We achieved this mission through deploying the capabilities of our manufacturing facilities in Houston and Denver while utilizing our 19 strategically located branches to support our customers’ needs 24/7.