Volume 15 | Issue 1 | Year 2012

Essentially, it’s an extension of its clients’ construction and support teams. Dan Harvey describes this fully integrated enterprise.

Based in Winterville, N.C., The Roberts Company represents the new summering of American manufacturing. The company – which Charles Mullinax, the vice president of sales and business development, describes as a fully integrated enterprise – provides engineering, fabrication, construction and plant services. Many companies like to characterize themselves as a “one stop” shop, but The Roberts Company lives up to that self-description.

This fact is well understood by its heavy and light industrial clients. Customers know what they need and know what they want, and their requirements are bolstered by the partnership that the organization forged with Professional Project Services. “That’s our engineering arm,” says Mullinax, “and its extensive capabilities meet all needs related to civil, structural, mechanical, piping, electrical and process engineering requirements.”

Specifically, The Roberts Company offers a broad – some would say unlimited – range of steel fabrication services, particularly related to the most complex American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Code pressure vessels and heat exchangers. Its field service translates into full service – that is, it projects solutions group gets right down into the weeds (grassroots projects). When you couple such capabilities with an equally comprehensive plants services group – which handles maintenance turnarounds, shutdowns and emergency mobilizations – you are indeed talking about a “one stop” shop. This company is characterized by comprehensiveness.

As Mullinax relates, The Roberts Company mission is to establish itself as a full-service enterprise that “seeks to enhance and build ongoing relations with its clients” – and that’s where its defining capabilities (engineering, fabrication, construction, and plant services) comes in. Simultaneously, it strives to achieve the highest industry standards related to quality and safety. This is much more than a public relations posture, as Mullinax indicates. Indeed, this operation is obsessed with those two issues.

As far as safety, the company emboldens each employee to engage in its philosophy, which reaches down from the highest management levels to the shop floor. Indeed, everyone is committed to ensuring the program’s success.

Perhaps only one other company is equally obsessed with the safety factor: The Dupont Company. But The Roberts Company matches Dupont in this area – as it provides the requisite training, coaching, education and company-wide enforcement that make safety a reality, and not just a white-paper paragraph. The company’s efforts have not only consistently improved safety statistics; it is integrated in employees’ lifestyle, from when they drive home to when they perform home maintenance chores.

This effort was present at the start. The Roberts Company was established in 1977 and, from the beginning – this operation grew from a small mechanical contractor into an enormous, full-service constructor and fabricator – it realized that there were inherent dangers in the work it did.

As such, it focused on safety – and its efforts have been recognized. The company’s received three safety performance awards from the North Carolina Department of Labor. The awards are based on the lowest injury rate during a year’s operation. “This reflects on both message and example from management, which filters down to field supervision and into each employee,” says Mullinax. Indeed, this company understands what it takes to make a safe workplace. It takes more than talk; it involves rigorous planning, ongoing training, management policy and the fostering of commitment throughout the entire organization.

For sure, this company understands that an accident – or, fatality – is not a statistic; it’s a tragedy. This commitment extends to clients’ facilities, too. Call it viral safety. It’s programmed into the company’s thought processes, and carries on through every element of the operation: present on the shop floor and carried out through the door.

As the company relates, the safety program involves planning, communication, observation and continuous improvement. Specific elements include:

  • Discussing and planning work assignments daily using The Roberts Company Pretask Planning Information Sheet;
  • Empowering all employees to stop work and notify a supervisor if a threat to safety is observed;
  • Conducting daily or weekly “Toolbox Safety Talks”;
  • Conducting project audit inspection reports;
  • Providing OSHA 10-hour training for all supervisors.

These are firmly entrenched in daily activities. As such, safety has become part of the company’s DNA.

So has environmental awareness. Because it works with clients throughout the world, The Roberts Company understands the importance of protecting the global environment. In this fashion, it conducts itself with five self-imposed laws. These include:

  • Always complying with environmental laws and regulations;
  • Supporting customers in efforts to protect and improve the environment;
  • Minimizing waste through intelligent resource choices and recycling efforts;
  • Training all employees in the best environmental practices and quick response to all spills;
  • Assessing and reporting performance to top management and to regulatory agencies.

However, it remains a fact of life that that such positive safety- and environment-related messages can only be communicated by successful – and, in turn – influential organizations. The Roberts Company fills the role. From its modest beginnings, the company has grown into a state-of-the-art ASME code production operation that includes more than 160,000 square feet of total manufacturing space. Technology includes automated GMAW, SAW and orbital welding, all of which provide the company’s trademark consistent quality.

But The Roberts Company doesn’t lock its capabilities inside its own facilities. It goes right out into the field. Indeed, its field services division offers customers industrial construction capital project solutions. Further, its plant services division provides maintenance and turnaround solutions. This company goes right onto the clients’ shop floors. The typical client utilizes industrial process equipment and related mechanical systems, and The Roberts Company boasts more than 30 years’ experience supplying complete craft services from site preparation, demolition, and concrete installation to steel erection, equipment installation, piping, electrical, instrumentation and commissioning.

The company is licensed in 13 southeastern states and, thus, is ready to assist businesses in capital projects or emergency plant repairs.

And just who are these customers. Well, The Roberts Company boasts a clientele list that includes some of America’s best-known manufacturing names – entities such as the aforementioned Dupont, as well as Mallinckrodt, MeadWestvaco, Evonik, Roche, and DAK Americas.

Want further validation? How does this sound: Honeywell, Wyeth, Merck, and BASF. For these clients, when and where necessary, The Roberts Company provides fabrication (its division has more than a quarter-century of experience), a broad range of materials (e.g., stainless steel, alloys, and titanium, among many others), pressure testing, engineering design software, fabrication facilities and equipment, project management, and the requisite shipping facilities.

Specific field services include:

  • Precision foundation concrete placement, equipment/building foundations, specialty and mass concrete construction;
  • Structural steel buildings and equipment structures erection;
  • Mechanical equipment installation, precision millwright and optical equipment alignment;
  • Process and utility piping;
  • Total plant electrical power distribution systems installation;
  • Controls and instrumentation systems installation and existing plant integration;
  • Plant demolition;
  • Erection of pre-engineered buildings.

The company has achieved Certificates of Authorization to provide fabricated products in compliance with ASME Section I & VIII, Division I requirements. These include compliance stamps “U” (Unfired Pressure Vessels), “S” (Boiler Manufacture Section I), and The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors “R” (Boiler & Vessel Repair and Alteration). Shell and tube heat exchangers are fabricated in compliance with Tubular Exchanger Manufacturers Association (TEMA) and Ultra-temperature Heat Exchanger (UHX) B, C and R. Miscellaneous structural steel fabrication and welding are in compliance with AWS D1.1. Piping fabrication complies with B31.1 and B31.3 Code; and custom fabricated storage tanks comply with American Petroleum Institute (API) – 650, 620 and 653.

Further, the company maintains strict quality assurance and quality control programs. This involves yearly audits performed by authorized inspection agents. Also, the company, through its safety and quality programs, is committed to zero defects both technically and aesthetically. All vessels are built to the same standards whether code stamped or not. In addition to in-house radiography capabilities, it is capable of performing various types of leak tests, proof tests, and ultrasonic thickness and material verification tests.

The Roberts Company’s core business is to provide construction solutions, resources, and support for facility owners and managers – and focusing sharply on small capital projects, turnarounds, outages, renovations, execution of repairs. This has enabled it develop long-term relationships with some of the biggest names in the industrial arena.

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