Blair County is not a hot bed for the Marcellus Shale industry as Juniata Township is the only municipality in the county that has any of the gas wells.
However, as a result of Marcellus Shale, at least two companies have located here, and another soon will be coming to the area.
Gardner Denver, which makes and fixes pumps for the Marcellus Shale industry, has done well since it opened in Tipton in May 2012. The company now employs 40 workers.
Photo for the Mirror by Jason Sipes/Gardner Denver
Mechanic Tim Crowl installs a seal on the fluid end of a pump at the Gardner Denver Inc. plant in Tipton.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Denny Middleton (left), product developer at HalenHardy LLC, watches CEO and co-fonder Don Beaver explain the MASHH Mobile Air Shower at its Bellwood facility.
"We had a great year . We exceeded all of our targets and projections," said plant manager Jerry Zeiders. "We will be adding more jobs this year, but I am not sure how many. We are going to continue to grow. We have just scratched the surface of the things we can do in the Northeast."
HalenHardy LLC opened in January 2013 in the former Beaver Prints building on Main Street in Bellwood to develop products and services that improve worker health and safety across multiple industries including oil and gas, mining, construction, remediation and demolition.
Among the companies products are the MASHH Mobile Air Shower, which reduces worker exposure to hazardous silica dust.
HalenHardy also makes a line of MudKill products, which help prevent slips, trips and falls in muddy areas and soon will launch a line of Heck Out products, which include fold up barriers that can be erected at gas and oil construction sites.
"We wouldn't exist without it; the company was created because of the Marcellus Shale industry," said CEO and co-founder Donny Beaver.
Marcellus GTL LLC of Gilberton plans to build a plant near Duncansville that would turn natural gas into gasoline and propane, which is expected to lead to the creation of 30 new jobs. Company officials hope to begin construction in the second quarter of this year and have the plant up and running in the first quarter of 2016.
"That is a substantial project from the standpoint of investment and jobs with what it can do from the standpoint of producing energy to help the country and Pennsylvania," said President and CEO Marty Marasco of Altoona-Blair County Development Corp.
New Pig Energy was launched in January 2013 in response to the Marcellus Shale industry.
New Pig Energy - whose parent company, New Pig Corp., is an industrial absorbents manufacturer that has been the world leader in liquid control and containment for more than 27 years - manufactures secondary containment liners and other related products, including a patent-pending, well-pad liner that protects workers by providing traction while dealing with slick materials that can also stand up to rig and other heavy-equipment traffic.
"Marcellus Shale is 100 percent of our business. Our employment has more than doubled since we started. We are up to 23 employees," said Beth Powell, vice president and general manager.
Drill Baby Drill Staffing, which is specifically designed to assist companies in the oil, gas and transportation industries with their recruitment and human resource needs, opened an office in Roaring Spring in October 2010.
"Our business was created just for the Marcellus Shale/oil and gas industry," said Terri Rodgers, partner/general manager. "Drill Baby Drill has built relationships with many organizations throughout the Blair County region, and it is our goal to increase their qualified candidate pool. Over the past three and a half years, Drill Baby Drill has assisted hiring managers find qualified employees for all types of positions throughout the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions by prescreening resumes and conducting interviews so they can select the best for their positions."
Marcellus Shale has played a key role in the growth of the Tyrone office of JMD Co., which opened in the spring of 2010.
Bethel Park-based JMD Co. supplies the construction industry with sediment and erosion control products.
"We do commercial site work and work at PennDOT projects, anything to do with moving dirt," said Scott Walters, office manager. "When we opened here we had no clue what Marcellus Shale was. I would say Marcellus Shale has come more to us than us to them. They are trying to do everything as environmentally responsible as possible, and our product lines help them accomplish those goals."
The local office has grown substantially since it opened.
"There has been positive growth because of Marcellus Shale. We went from a new business to one of the largest branches of the company within a year. It put us at full capacity quicker than what a normal branch would grow into," Walters said.
Marcellus Shale has provided work for Mountain Research LLC. The Altoona-based full-service environmental laboratory performs quality analytical testing and environmental consulting services for Marcellus Shale Projects.
"Right now it makes up about 10 percent of our business, and it is going to get bigger. Two years ago we had the big influx of testing of private wells, then some of the big gas companies hired us as well," said president and CEO Jim Rea. "Last year it slowed down but we are still getting consistent business. We get samples from all over the state. We did hire a few people in both 2012 and 2013 as a result of this."
Marcellus Shale also provides work for P. Joseph Lehman Inc. Consulting Engineers, Duncansville, which has been an active member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
For the Marcellus Shale industry, Lehman provides general engineering services including design of access roads, well pads and bridges; construction inspection; surveying; preparation of erosion and sedimentation control/NPDES permits; and preparation of water obstruction and encroachment permits.
"All clients and their projects are important to us, but overall Marcellus Shale is a small percentage of our total project workload. Prior to the Utica Shale being developed in Ohio and western Pennsylvania, we saw a moderate increase in our business, but with the Utica Shale drilling, production of the Marcellus Shale in our core business region has been slowing down," said Scott Klingenburg, environmental services director.
Marasco said he is not sure whether any other Marcellus Shale related companies will locate in Blair County.
Marasco said if a proposed petrochemical plant in Beaver County becomes a reality that could benefit Blair County.
The so-called cracker plant would convert natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale into more profitable chemicals such as ethylene, which is used to make plastics, antifreeze and other products. Officials have said the plant would employ 100,000 temporary construction workers and provide 400 permanent jobs after that.
"No question everyone is waiting for that cracker plant in Beaver County and spin off from that. We should feel an impact here. If the cracker plant happens there will be some spinoff from that and satellite development," Marasco said. "We've had some discussions with some firms. We've had some inquiries. We've got some interest and feelers. I wouldn't call them active proposals at this moment," Marasco said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.