Welding Success

Written by Mark Golombek

NuWeld Inc. offers a variety of specialized mechanical services worldwide, including nuclear safety related and non-safety related work, complete natural gas and oil distribution services, individual and complete turnkey services, and ongoing inspection and post-project maintenance.
The Williamsport, Pennsylvania business got its start in Tim and Marilyn Satterfield’s garage under the name T&M Welding. Launched in 1996, the husband and wife team included their 18 year old son, Dusty Satterfield, in the operations, which were largely limited to repairing garbage dumpsters. The family worked hard to secure larger, more prestigious projects and soon landed contracts producing aircraft fuel line parts for Piper, small parts for United Defense, and aerospace industry parts. This gave the business the foothold it needed and the team rebranded, incorporating as NuWeld in 1997.

NuWeld continued to work small jobs until 2001, when the team won a major contract to work on a tunnel project 700 feet under the Occoquan River. “That is what really catapulted the company,” recalls Cary Jones, NuWeld’s Vice President of Business Development and Sales. The following year, NuWeld outgrew its humble garage and relocated to a small shop, then promptly outgrew that space as well, expanding to a 14,000 square foot facility in 2003. Soon the company began picking up lucrative contracts in the nuclear sector, as well as the rapidly expanding shale sector, creating a diversified portfolio and earning an enviable reputation for reliable, quality work. The team formed strong relationships with major midstream oil and gas companies and, as the work poured in, NuWeld exploded from an informal, eight employee business into a 39 employee success story.

Today, the company operates out of a substantial, 211,000 square foot facility and has completed projects throughout the United States, from Arkansas, Kansas, and North Carolina to Alabama, Florida, Virginia and Washington DC, as well as taking part in international projects in Russia and Peru.

NuWeld experienced a dramatic transformation from a small family operation in the Satterfields’ garage to a leading player in the Mid-Atlantic region, but key elements of the business have stayed the same. Tim and Marilyn Satterfield remain at the helm and have maintained the company’s close knit, family environment. “They grew up in Western North Carolina [as] salt of the earth folks, and that is something that they haven’t lost,” Jones says. “They are really good people first and foremost, and that shows through in their dealings with their customers as well as their employees.” The family’s values mean that deadlines and commitments are taken seriously. “We are really big on keeping our word,” Jones states. “If we take a project on we are going to do it on budget and on schedule.”

Dusty Satterfield is also still involved with NuWeld, but has gone from welding dumpsters in the family garage as a teenager to leading the company as Vice President and Chief Operations Officer today. “He has done a really great job of taking the company to the next level,” Jones says. Other family members also play a major role within the company, including Tim Satterfield’s stepson, Jason Praster (QA/QC Manager) and his stepdaughter, Michelle Praster March (Marketing and Public Relations Director).

Growing as successfully as NuWeld has is not easy, and the team had to adopt a winning strategy early on. In the beginning, the plan was pretty straightforward. “It was just being responsive and providing the best welding service that could be provided,” Jones says. “But it didn’t take long for Tim and Marilyn to realize that to get to the next step, and to be able to perform at the next step, they needed to have a strategic plan in place.” The key to this strategic plan was diversification. “Initially they did some work for the nuclear markets, and then around 2008 everything turned to the natural gas market.” Today, as oil and gas prices drop, the company continues to rely on its diversification strategy, increasing it focus on the power generation sector and other industrial construction sectors.

This emphasis on diversification has led to a solid range of services and expertise. NuWeld’s Oil & Gas Division provides pipeline services, field services, and valve maintenance and repair. The Nuclear Power Division’s nuclear qualified personnel can take care of mock-up and pre-project training, remote automatic welding, and valve repair. The company’s full service fabrication shop supplies a full range of industrial fabrication services, and NuWeld’s engineering capabilities include design services, piping analysis, material procurement, 3D modeling, P&ID drawings, support calculations, piping analysis (CAEPIPE), orthographic and isometric drawings, in-house PE and EIT, site layout drawings, and advanced pressure vessel design.

No matter what the service or division, NuWeld’s skilled team produces top notch results. “We really excel where the quality requirements are high,” says Jones. “A project that is a nuclear safety related project or a pharmaceutical plant where the cleanliness requirements are really strict, that is where we are really going to shine.” The company’s experienced welders can handle virtually any material, from carbon steel, stainless steel, duplex stainless steel, and inconel to cobalt, titanium, and aluminum. The team are also experts on a variety of specialized weld processes including plasma arc welding, hard facing and corrosion resistant overlays, automatic welding, and orbital welding. “If we come across a new kind of material that is not seen very often, we’ve got the welding expertise and knowhow to quickly put together the right procedure to provide a quality welding service.”

NuWeld’s safety record also makes the company stand out; the business boasts zero accidents and zero injuries. This outstanding record is maintained via extensive job-specific new hire safety training, accredited safety trainers, mandatory OSHA refresher and safety retraining, roving shop / field safety personnel, computerized record keeping to track, analyze and pattern safety performance, safety teams, and working closely with OSHA.

NuWeld’s state of the art facility also sets the company apart. “We have an amazing amount of capacity at our Williamsport facility,” Jones says. The main bay of the 211,000 square foot building stretches a quarter mile in length and 100 feet in width, and can handle up to 100 tons. “We can fabricate pretty much anything, with the only limitation being what can go across the rail or over the road.”

Looking ahead, NuWeld is well aware that a stabilized oil and gas sector requires some new tactics. “It is pretty clear that the industry has become much more mature and being much more mature, everything is becoming much more cost conscious. We are doing the things that we need to do to bring efficiencies into our business and to provide the services at the right price in this more cost conscious environment.” The team is also eager to continue diversifying, particularly in light of lower oil and gas prices, and is increasing their focus on power generation projects, which remain lucrative. The biggest hurdle, Jones says, is snagging contracts with companies that only do business with people with whom they have worked in the past. “After we have the first project done, we typically have a pretty high repeat customer rate, so it is just getting our foot in the door to get that first opportunity.”

So far, progress looks good and NuWeld continues to break into the power generation sector. In fact, progress looks so good that the Satterfields’ next goal is to grow the business to a $100 million company within the next five years. After successfully growing from a small startup in the family garage to a leading specialized mechanical services company, making that $100 million mark certainly seems within reach.



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