Tulsa’s Sawyer Mfg. Co. is going to the White House next week.
The U.S. Small Business Administration recently awarded 35-employee Sawyer its national “Exporter of the Year” award. The honor makes the family-owned pipeline and welding equipment company the only Oklahoma business to be recognized during the ceremony in Washington, D.C., on May 8.
The awards coincide with National Small Business Week.
“It’s quite an honor for us,” Dave Hembree, company vice president, said.
“Exporter of the Year” is based on criteria such as increased sales, profits and growth of employment because of exporting; creative overseas marketing strategies; and assistance to other small businesses entering the export market.
Sawyer Mfg. Company designs, engineers and manufactures equipment for all stages of the pipeline in its 54,000-square-foot facility located in west Tulsa.
At Sawyer there is no “‘not my job’ mentality,” shop manager John Morelock said. Like at many small businesses, employees have a wide range of capabilities and responsibilities.
“Everyone wears more than one hat,” Morelock said.
Sawyer sends its products to all 50 states and more than 50 countries, Hembree added. The company has a lineup of 30 products for pipeline and welding applications. The product line includes pipe-cutting equipment, clamps, welding tools, weld-testing equipment, and pipe lifting and bending equipment.
Several aspects make Sawyer unique, Hembree said, but one is the company’s readiness to take on unique projects where the customer only wants a small volume of materials. Many manufacturers don’t want to mess with the smaller, specialized work, he said.
“We do more low-volume and custom-type projects,” Hembree said. “A 100 run is a big run for us.”
Products are often packed up and trucked to their final destinations, Hembree said. But they may also be delivered via waterways or by air.
Sawyer’s work is predominantly oil- and gas-related, but with the current state of the oil industry, Sawyer has begun to focus on expanding into serving new industries, Hembree said.
Sawyer recently did work for popular restaurant chain Panera Bread as well as a Crossfit studio. The company also does work with wastewater and sewer infrastructure as well as nuclear applications.
“The more diversified we can get, the better,” Hembree said.
Sawyer primarily uses steel for its projects but also manufactures some copper and aluminum items. In addition to doing all of its work in Tulsa, Sawyer uses local foundries and suppliers. Steel and castings come from about an hour outside of Tulsa, Hembree said.
Morelock, who has been with the company for a little more than a year, said that he has been especially impressed with the mutual respect and responsibility that’s apparent in the company.
A lot of that culture comes from Tom Sawyer, the company’s president since 1979. Sawyer took over operations from his father Red Sawyer, who founded the business in 1948.
“Everyone really buys into what we do and the products we build,” Morelock said. “Most of that comes from respect from the top down.”
Casey Smith 918-732-8106