LIBERTY - The Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas fields are causing waves of economic gains for steel pipe maker V&M Star and other large companies, but many smaller area businesses are benefiting from the ripples.
Liberty-based VEC Inc. is one. Dearing Compressor and Pump Co. in Boardman is another.
Eventually, the dollars trickle down to real estate, hotels, retailers and restaurants, a local economic development official noted.
"We were in Canonsburg (Pa.), where a lot of drilling is occurring, and hotels are cropping up, office space and restaurants are cropping up, because people are doing business in the area," said Walt Good, Regional Chamber vice president for economic development.
Global steel pipe maker V&M Star, which is generating about 750 construction and production job by building a $650 million high-tech pipe mill on Trumbull County's southern border, has been getting most of the early publicity since the Marcellus Shale burst into the news several years ago.
Other large manufacturers include TMK Ipsco in Brookfield, tube maker Wheatland Tube in Howland and RG Steel in Warren, which supplies flat-rolled steel used to make tubes and pipe.
But smaller companies such as VEC also are reaping rewards.
"We did 70 projects for 28 different clients in 2010. We're probably on track for that, or more, in 2011, with the majority in Pennsylvania for the Marcellus Shale," Client Relations Manager Dominic Spelich said.
One of VEC's units, Valley Electrical Consolidated Inc., has about 50 employees working on the V&M project, but other divisions also are thriving. They're doing so well that management is looking to add project managers, estimators, laborers, construction office managers and project support.
J.L. Allen Co. a longtime general contractor that VEC bought a few years ago, has completed Marcellus Shale projects exceeding $35 million since 2009, Spelich said.
The company prepares land, erects buildings and does compressor, meter, pump and interconnect work - connecting smaller pipelines into a large one - for natural gas transmission.
Another division, Evets Electric Inc., has finished $12 million-plus worth of electric installation at compressor stations since 2009, and sees a solid 2012, Spelich said.
VEC's oil and natural gas division, along with its prefabricated building operation, has outgrown the company's Tibbetts-Wick Road location, and is moving into a building on Belmont Avenue in Liberty behind the building housing ComDoc.
The company's success ripples out to its local vendors, such as Graybar Electric, Leff Electric and Shenango Steel Building Inc., Spelich said.
Other area employers that stand to benefit include National Industrial Lumber in North Jackson and Universal Stainless and Alloy Products Inc., which last month completed its purchase of Patriot Special Metals in North Jackson.
"The general public might still not realize we have an energy revolution in our area. We believe this industry will be a game-changer for Northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania," the chamber's Good said.