BREWER, Maine — Cianbro officials, who announced Friday they have acquired Illinois-based Starcon International Inc., said Monday there “absolutely” will be more work for the company’s Eastern Manufacturing Facility in South Brewer.
“It will be significant,” Peter Vigue, chairman and CEO for Pittsfield-based Cianbro Corp., said by phone from Illinois.
The partnership opens up opportunities for Cianbro to tap into the $12 billion refining and petrochemical service business, which, like other businesses in the country, are beginning to see economic upturns, he said.
“It’s not always going to be this way,” Vigue said of the economy. “This industry, the petrochemical and refinery industry, are not doing a lot of investing” or infrastructure building, but “it’s just a matter of time before that begins happening.”
“We’re preparing for that opportunity,” he said. “It’s inevitable.”
As new construction begins, the Brewer module manufacturing plant will come into play, Vigue said.
“More and more in the refinery industry, modularization is becoming popular,” he said. “There are some efficiencies that are inherent with modules.”
Cianbro’s Brewer plant recently completed 51 modules for Motiva Enterprises’ Port Arthur Refinery, which is in the middle of a $7 billion expansion that will make the facility the largest crude oil processing plant in North America.
Those refinery modules were heavy duty industrial steel frames filled with pipes, pumps and wiring, and every piece of steel or piping was shaped by Cianbro employees in Maine and put together in Brewer.
Starcon employees came to Brewer to work on the Motiva project and have been part of the work done this summer at Sappi paper mill in Skowhegan, said Joe Cote, EMF general manager.
“We’ve had an ongoing relationship,” he said.
Modules can be used for basically any industry where prefabricated, self-standing building structures would be useful, including pharmaceutical, power, cement, transportation, liquid natural gas, petrochemical, marine, nuclear and others, Vigue has said.
The acquisition of Starcon places Cianbro, which operates in 15 eastern states, into 25 additional states across the Midwest, in California and along the Gulf Coast, he said.
The two sister companies complement each other, with Starcon being a full-service mechanical contractor, specializing in maintenance, turnaround and project work mostly for the petrochemical and refinery industry, and Cianbro being Maine’s largest construction company focusing on industrial, electrical and transportation projects, steel fabrication and modular manufacturing.
“Starcon has an excellent reputation in the industry. … It really gave us a lot of credibility by combining the two,” Vigue said.
“It’s really a win-win [for both companies] and a great way for us to expand our footprint,” Cote said.
Now that Starcon is a Cianbro company, its headquarters will move from Manhattan, Ill., to La Porte, Texas. Cote, Vigue and Mike Bennett, Cianbro’s human resources and safety director, are touring Starcon’s facilities this week.
“Our plan is over the next several days to meet 100 percent of the team members with the Starcon organization, as well as meet the clients,” Vigue said.
Work already is picking up in Brewer. Cianbro won a contract in September to construct 22 electrical building modules for Brazil-based Vale, a mining company that is constructing a nickel processing plant in Long Harbour, Newfoundland.
“Joe and his team are ramping up in the electrical work for Vale,” Vigue said. They’ve started to fabricate steel and expect to have at least 100 employees working in Brewer by December, and possibly doubling that next year.
With the recent major capital venture of Starcon, Cianbro will be prepared for when the economy recovers, Vigue said.
“We’ll be ready,” he said, adding, “You don’t do it overnight. You make investments.”