I don’t spend much time in Claremore’s industrial park. Honestly, until a few years ago, I didn’t really know it was there. I mean, there are some buildings behind Gripado’s that you can admire while you’re waiting in the drive-thru to get your donuts, but that’s about what most people know.
There are so many companies hidden on the edge of town. Everyone knows about Baker Hughes, but what about AXH? Caseco? The shining star of this story is Pelco Structural. You may be familiar; they build made-to-order pole assemblies for the Utility, Lighting, Communication and Traffic Control Industries. Pelco Structural manufactures multi-section, galvanized steel poles that are custom designed to your strength and height requirements. Think stoplights and baseball field lighting; that’s the easiest way to think of how Pelco is visible right here in Claremore.
Pelco just received the SHARP Certification from the Oklahoma Department of Labor. Here’s what that means:
The Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) recognizes small companies in high hazard industries that have demonstrated exemplary achievements in workplace safety and health. Employers that have implemented proven safety and health management programs, and work to continuously improve effectiveness may be eligible for this important recognition program. Employers who attain SHARP status are recognized as a model for worksite safety and health.
Basically, the company is really safe, and goes above and beyond to keep employees healthy and happy in a fantastic environment. Kudos to plant manager Kevin Barclay and safety manager Brad Shankle for keeping everyone on the up and up.
Receiving SHARP certification is great, but Pelco just got it for the FIFTH consecutive year. And being that next week is Global Manufacturing Week, this seemed like the perfect cause for celebration.
Pelco hosted a luncheon for its employees and special friends, catered by Hammett House. A large tent was erected on the lawn. CEO Phil Albert and his wife, Jo, were at the entrance, ready to greet visitors with a smile and a friendly handshake. Once inside, Dr. Keith Ballard kicked off the event as emcee. Ballard introduced several key guests, including Sheriff Scott Walton, Senator Marty Quinn, Rep. Mark Lepak, Mayor Bill Flanagan, and Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett. Also in attendance were several members of the CIEDA board of directors (Claremore Industrial & Economic Development Authority), including executive director Jeri Koehler, District Attorney Matt Ballard, and GRDA CEO Dan Sullivan. Several local educators were also introduced.
Dr. Ballard gave a terrific description of Pelco’s CEO, Phil Albert. Basing his descriptions from Jim Collins’ Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, Ballard informed the crowd that Mr. Albert is what is known as a Level 5 Leader. He runs his company with a perfect blend of personal humility and professional will; whatever must be done is done with quiet determination, no matter how difficult. From what I gathered, Mr. Albert tends to shy away from the limelight, and Dr. Ballard was determined to let everyone know what a gem of a man we have handling the reins at Pelco.
After the introductions, guests were treated to two videos. One featured several millennials being asked their thoughts on manufacturing. The responses were interesting. The second was a Claremore video, showcasing the industrial park.
Next on the podium was CIEDA executive director Jeri Koehler. She boiled down the manufacturing subject to this: When you see big trucks leaving Claremore carrying light poles, or boat lifts, or air exchangers, that’s money coming in to our city. Smart people make things. Cheer for the people who make the things. 17 million Americans work in the field of manufacturing. Celebrate those people.
Pelco opened its doors in Claremore 11.5 years ago. Mr. Albert and his investors came to look at a large empty building in the industrial park. The goal of this start-up was to keep the local economy moving forward. And indeed, that’s exactly what has happened. Mr. Albert, who, according to Koehler, is “the most humble and generous man” she has ever known, has indeed made his mark on Claremore. In fact, he’s up to receive the prestigious Larry Mocha Advocacy Award next week. He is not only a leader for Claremore, but for the entire Oklahoma manufacturing community.
Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston presented a special flag and the SHARP proclamation to Barclay and Shankle. She explained that the certification, which is based on safety and health recognition from OSHA, is not easy to receive, and only a small amount of Oklahoma businesses can claim that distinction. And our very own Pelco has done it five years in a row!
Next up were Senator Quinn and Rep. Lepak, who praised each individual employed by Pelco, and then presented Mr. Albert with their proclamation. Lepak ended with a message filled with pride for the employees.
Mayor Flanagan gave a statement about the benefit that Pelco has on the city of Claremore, stating that when they arrived 12 years ago, there were virtually no jobs in town, which certainly isn’t the case today. The city is grateful and looks forward to the future. He then presented a city proclamation to Mr. Albert, who rounded out the speeches.
Mr. Albert is thankful for everyone who took time to celebrate the company’s achievement, and especially thanked Pelco’s investors who got everything started. Pelco has been chosen as the pole supplier on a huge project with Clean Line Energy, which will high-voltage direct current transmission lines from Western Oklahoma to Tennessee. The economic benefits from the construction of this line will create approximately 11,000 jobs and power approximately 2 million homes per year while lessening environmental impact of power production lessening the overall environmental impact of power production. That being said, Mr. Albert is looking eagerly to the future and what’s next for Pelco.