Gratitude in Our Attitude
Gratitude in Our Attitude
Newberry Tanks’ Thriving Company Culture Illustrates Value of Empowering Employees
A company is only as good as its employees. In a report compiled by Bamboo HR, 87% of executives and HR professionals said company culture significantly supported their business goals and 94% noted its importance to their organization’s success.
For Newberry Tanks, the best investment into our company and its production and customer service—the very elements that have won us multiple awards—is to invest in our workforce, enabling them to not only successfully do their jobs but also enrich their lives.
But how do you measure culture or employee happiness in the workplace? Do you count the number of smiles in a shift? How do you quantify an abstract feeling?
The truth is you can’t. It’s something that evolves inside the workplace—the culmination of all those things in the office that can’t be tallied or tabulated on an Excel spreadsheet. Employee satisfaction and positive company culture, however, is apparent in the bottom lines of a few key metrics: safety, productivity, efficiency, customer service, innovation, and talent attraction and retention to name a few.
Mainly, it’s not what is done in the workspace but how and why it’s done. Intentionality matters. Attitude matters. Conscious effort matters.
So, how do you get truly happy and fulfilled employees?
It starts by realizing that employees are more than their positions and titles, and when you begin looking at employees’ needs holistically, it pays dividends. And THAT becomes the company’s true culture.
At Newberry, we understand that our greatest asset doesn’t take root in the boardroom but on the production floor and in our office spaces. We owe a debt of gratitude to our employees who work diligently on their jobs, understanding how their contribution matters to the success of the company, and helping to create this unique atmosphere that makes everyone inside our company feel like somebody. It’s a culture we’re proud to call our own, and it’s a culture we want to continue to nurture in every way possible.
But the truth is that none of these initiatives will work if we don’t pursue them together.
It’s why we listen to feedback from our employees. It’s why we are constantly looking for ways to cross-train our welders. It’s why we invest in our local community. These are just a few of the initiatives underway at Newberry that are a tribute to our dedicated workforce and our grateful leadership.
Training opportunities add value to our employees’ lives.
When companies pour into their employees’ training and development, those same employees not only gain skills, but they also enjoy a greater sense of belonging and empowerment in their position. According to Built In, an online community of startups, 94% of employees who felt their company truly was invested in their learning and development cite their commitment to staying with the organization longer.
Newberry, faced with labor shortages and Covid-related absences rearing their heads a few years ago, established a program for cross-training back-up welders as a means of eliminating production disruptions and building a pipeline of next generation skilled labor. The result? Productivity increases of more than 30%!
These cross-trained employees flourish under the vote of confidence and trust instilled in them by Newberry to be a go-to resource during times of crisis. They feel needed and valued in the overall business and their jobs are given a more defined purpose.
Empowering employees can go a long way.
Employee recognition is crucial to building loyalty to the company and boosting morale. The Built In survey notes 85% of executives say programs geared toward employee recognition have positively impacted their company culture while 79% of employees say that more efforts geared toward recognition would increase their dedication to the company. Conversely, more than one of every four employees surveyed said a lack of recognition and praise from management would play a pivotal role in their decision to leave a job.
Additionally, cohesion between coworkers also plays a significant role with mutual respect and communication between colleagues touted as paramount. The Built In survey showed that 26% of employees were more likely to leave their positions if colleague relationships were strained.
So, what has Newberry done to meld our workforce?
Our mantra is that pride in workmanship is the basis for building relationships with teammates. And the best way to take pride in your work is to take ownership in the process.
Newberry has generations of welders who’ve worked for us. Our turnover rates are some of the lowest in the industry, with an average tenure of more than seven years. In our unique model, cross-trained welders, also operating as fabricators and fitters, don’t simply do one job and then hand it off to the next in line. Instead, they oversee the tank from start to completion, maintaining a sense of ownership and pride in each one, and are rewarded on quality of work rather than quantity.
This model has also encouraged a sense of knowledge sharing between longtime employees and newer hires. When knowledge is flowing and communication is transparent, that’s when the strongest team bonds are built.
These bonds are not just felt on the production floor but also in the Engineering and Sales departments.
Bert Danner, Newberry’s Regional Account Executive, says his favorite part of working at Newberry is the “fast-paced environment, talented people on the team, and great customers.”
Charlie Redford, a 12-year veteran of Newberry and Regional Account Manager, says he enjoys the “gratification of working with a team with the same mission and core values.”
Regional Sales Representative Tom Ashton says his co-workers and associates make his job even more rewarding. “Best teammates in the tank business!”
All of these things add up to one significant truth: People thrive in cohesive and engaged environments.
Three Ways to Achieve 100% Customer Satisfaction
The Road to 100% Customer Sat
After experiencing tremendous growth in 2021 — a considerable achievement given that growth in metal tank manufacturing was expected to be 4.3% annually over the five years to 2021 (IBISWorld July 2021) — Newberry Tanks and Equipment faced a challenge: continuing to provide our award-winning level of personal service during this explosive growth.
How did Newberry attack this challenge? We listened to customers. And then doubled-down on our commitment to customer satisfaction with strategic implementation of customer-centric programs, key technology, and the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).
1. Create Customer-centric Programs
Communication is a critical component in the steel tank industry. Construction schedules change frequently depending on weather, subcontractors, and material availability. The delivery of steel tanks requires time and financial investments for cranes, inspectors, work crews, and proper permits. A lack of communication in this process, no matter how small, can add up to significant time and money lost.
Customers say it best:
“I’ve been talking to Newberry’s customer service ever since my rep closed the deal. And Trevor and Nancy are phenomenal. If my customer has a question, I call them, and they get back to me in 15 or 20 minutes. With other companies I sometimes wait hours.”– Major Fluid Storage and Handling Solutions Provider
Newberry’s unique Preferred Customer Program (PCP) supports customer satisfaction by eliminating delivery guesswork. Jointly planning demand with Newberry results in:
- Order fulfillment/delivery in 24-48 hours versus weeks and months
- Immediate replenishments by maintaining an agreed upon min/max level of stock on-hand
- Locked-in, competitive pricing
- Regular Stock Reports, providing customer insights of dedicated inventory
“Response time in getting them built was excellent during the pandemic. Everybody was way out there, and Newberry really put themselves on the map being responsive to customer demands during a tough time.”– Large Convenience Store Chain
2. Put Technology to Work
Customer satisfaction is all about the customer experience. Newberry utilizes technology to aid the process:
- Online Customer Portal – Offers one-click access to personalized favorites list and order tracking via a customized dashboard.
- Salesforce CRM integrated with Sage ERP – Provides transparency on orders, customer interactions, and delivery. Now customer service, sales, and production have the same information to answer customers immediately.
“We get a personal call from their sales rep once a quarter and nobody else is doing that or they are rarely. They are courting us!”– Owner, Equipment Company
3. Implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)
Newberry’s first EOS corporate “Rock” aimed to facilitate communication with the “Tank Tracker” three-call order process. A Newberry Order Administrator calls a customer three times during the order and manufacturing process, ensuring order accuracy and on-time delivery. Customer service call volume has been reduced by 90% while maintaining the personal touch and resulting customer satisfaction.
100% Very Satisfied
Newberry continues to listen. And we like what we hear. In our 2021 Customer Survey, commitment to quality was mentioned most as Newberry’s defining strength. An astounding 100% of our customers surveyed in 2021 reported being “Very Satisfied” with Newberry, up from 79% in 2018. And 64% of customers, when asked unaided for advice, gave Newberry a huge compliment “keep doing what you are doing.”
Achievement in Customer Satisfaction
When it comes to customer satisfaction, Newberry Tanks is taking the lead by getting the lead times out of the order and fulfillment process.
Wait… slashing lead times?
Okay, we know what you’re thinking. Haven’t we witnessed the supply chain issues riddling the industry? The rising prices of steel? The unavailability of fiberglass? Labor shortages? Transportation delays?
Yes, we have. We could let those obstacles define our current state of business, or we could face them head on proactively. We’ve never been the “sit-around-and-wait” sort.
That’s why we implemented our signature Preferred Customer Program (PCP) in late 2019. Featuring planned buildouts and on-site inventory for immediate access to tanks, our PCP ensures order fulfillment in only 24-48 hours versus the industry’s extended lead times.
So how does this work?
Simple. You sign on to receive a certain quantity of tanks over time, while locking in competitive pricing, including material and labor pricing, at the time of signing. Then, your tank is delivered within days (instead of weeks or months).
Not only can Newberry ship needed product within a slim window, but as one order is fulfilled, an immediate replenishment initiates, ensuring that Newberry is always ready to meet and stay ahead of the need, helping you solidify your competitive edge. While this model is capital-intensive for Newberry, it pays dividends by enabling us to meet your growing demand and assist you to continue to grow both internally and externally.
What you’re saying is…
Newberry’s Preferred Customer Program eliminates the guesswork from the highly variable nature of the industry with planned buildouts and on-site inventory for on-demand access to tanks with:
- Order fulfillment/delivery in 24-48 hours versus weeks and months
- Immediate replenishments by maintaining a min/max level of stock on-hand
- Locked-in, competitive pricing
- Regular Stock Reports, providing customer insights of dedicated inventory
In its first year, the PCP worked so well in helping us jointly plan buildouts and eliminate delivery guesswork that many current customers on the program significantly increased revenue and overcame growth-halting lead times in the volatile industry climate of 2021.
In fact, three of four customers on Newberry’s legacy consignment program switched to the Preferred Customer Program in 2021.
What is the benefit?
We let our customers’ statistics speak for themselves.
* Oil distributor saw 188% unit growth
* Fortune 100 company had lead times slashed by 70% = Projects on schedule
* YoY revenue grew 2.3x for oil handling and equipment company
One of the nation’s leading oil handing and industrial equipment distributors made the move and realized a 160% increase in unit growth in the first eight months of 2021 over all of 2020 sales and 188% overall by year’s end. Year-over-year revenue increased 2.3 times. The Director of Operations said, “Previously we’d wait weeks, but now it’s days. This has enabled us to gain significant new tank business.”
The formula for success is actually quite simple: Ensured tank availability means you can fulfill your demand efficiently, and this, in turn, leads to more demand and increased sales for your company. All in all, faster delivery makes way for growth.
And who doesn’t want growth?
So, this is the part where we say again—we know what you’re thinking: Newberry’s PCP sounds great, but it probably only works for established customers, right?
Not so fast.
The Preferred Customer Program not only eases order and delivery for long-time customers, but it’s a perfect option for companies looking for solutions—especially when we work closely with new customers to understand their specific challenges and then offer them guaranteed availability to help hurdle supply chain obstacles to maintain growth plans. As one Construction Manager at a Fortune 100 company commented “lead times were slashed by 70%,” helping to keep their projects on schedule.
You read that right…ON SCHEDULE. And in our manufacturing space where one undeniable truth is that time is money, there may be no sweeter words.
Investing in the Future
Investing in the Future
Newberry Tanks Announces New Innovative Manufacturing Facility
Despite the numerous obstacles presented over the last two years in the wake of the Covid pandemic—rising steel costs, supply chain disruptions, economic downturns—Newberry Tanks met every challenge head-on. And triumphed.
The pandemic aftermath wasn’t a holding pattern for Newberry but rather a season of intense growth. A time to redirect business models to an Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) to step out of working in the business to focus on the business. A time to implement the Tank Tracker three-call system to ensure on-time and reliable delivery. A time to create a Preferred Customer Program with on-demand, in-stock supply of tanks for participating customers.
These investments in the company netted significant gains in both revenue and customer focus.
In 2021, Newberry reported an increase in the number of tanks produced by 16% and there was a marked shift to larger orders with most companies buying 21-99 tanks yearly. Over the same time period, 100% of customers interviewed reported they were “very satisfied” with their experience and many of those advised Newberry to “keep doing what you’re doing.”
And for Newberry, to keep supplying quality products with excellent service and reliable delivery considering the ever-increasing demand, there was another needed investment: a cutting-edge new facility.
In March of 2022, Newberry announced the opening of its newest state-of-the-art tank manufacturing facility in Memphis, Tennessee. The 40,000 sq. ft. facility effectively doubles their manufacturing and storage capacity in Memphis.
This innovative facility revolutionizes Newberry’s manufacturing processes and showcases their quality commitment by:
The new Memphis facility streamlines workflow on the production floor, and significantly increases throughput. While the old Memphis facility maxed out at 1,250 lube tanks, the new facility will ultimately triple production for Rectangular Lube Tanks while adding capacity to support up to six new workcells for cylindrical tanks.
“Stop-and-go” in manufacturing is the number one killer of lean practices. Minor stops on the production floor can end up in major losses: time losses, productivity losses, opportunity losses. And these losses wouldn’t be solely felt by Newberry. Quite often, they can lead to delays in order fulfillment, which can lead to lost revenue and lost opportunities for their customers.
Newberry’s new facility in Memphis is designed with a more streamlined workflow, from material handling, to production, to finishing and shipping, with significant reductions in stoppages.
Enhancing Paint Application
High-quality paint jobs are about more than aesthetics when it comes to your steel tank. The true lifespan of your tank depends on it. Without an effectively-applied protective paint coating, welded steel tanks are susceptible to the destructive effects of corrosion. In essence, a steel tank is only as good as its coating system.
Controlled painting environments and innovative practices are necessary to ensure all surface preparations are completed and coatings are appropriately prepared and applied for maximum, sustained protection. Tanks are moved via an overhead tract system instead of forklifts through the finishing process. Painting is accomplished using cutting-edge paint application technology. Having access to a heated, controlled environment and cutting-edge technology in its new facility, Newberry Tanks can ensure its products are given the highest standards of quality control and finished in a timely and efficient manner to defend against the life-reducing effects of unchecked corrosion.
Adding New Office Space
As operations grow, so do the needs for a full infrastructure of support functions. The new facility boasts a significant addition of office space to house Newberry’s HR, Logistics, Purchasing, and Engineering departments. These fully-functional, modern work environments favorably impact Newberry’s ability to attract and recruit top talent in this competitive job market as well as support the growing needs and demands of the industry.
Opening this new facility ensures that operations are more scalable as the business continues to grow. Newberry is positioning itself to expand production capabilities for future demand and exceptional on-time delivery.
As production capacity increases, the need for skilled welders and fabricators will be another paramount investment for the company. Newberry anticipates tripling its workforce in Memphis by the end of 2022. Its history of being “a best place to work” and its long-term partnerships in the Memphis community, should allow them to meet this goal.
“This is exciting growth for Newberry and an example of our long-standing commitment to the Memphis and West Memphis communities,” said Matt Kohnke, President and COO of Newberry Tanks.
We Need to Talk About Heavy Metal
We Need to Talk About Heavy Metal
No, we don’t mean the Metallica songs you’re jamming along to inside your car.
We’re here to talk about the steel skid tanks on your production floor. They’re heavy, they’re metal, and when moved, they’re a serious workplace hazard risk.
When you need a skid tank moved, most of you currently hire a crane and crew to move it. That’s expensive, sometimes a scheduling nightmare, and most notably, you’re bringing in people unfamiliar with your environment and that increases risk. Meanwhile, the tanks are full of oil or petroleum and any spill is a pricey EPA fine waiting to happen. More risk. And the tanks have historically been unwieldly once they’re swinging on chains at head-level with spotters. Major risk.
What we need is a safer tank. And here at Newberry Tanks, we built one. One that increases safety for your team, while saving you money. Intentional Innovation to benefit you.
Newberry’s Award-Winning New Skid Tank
With core values of safety, environmental responsibility, and innovation, we designed a rugged new steel skid tank that meets your needs. Our new skid tank:
- Meets UL-142 specification for Aboveground Storage of Flammable and Combustible liquids
- Comes in double-wall or single-wall construction for heavy duty aboveground storage
- Includes sturdy skids that enable the tank to be moved by a forklift, rather than a crane.
Most of you already have a forklift at your facilities, so you’re already saving time and money foregoing a crane and crew. The cutouts in the full skids make the entire tank easy for the forklift to grab, too. Moreover, the tank is designed to balance evenly while it is in motion, eliminating the “swing” that can cause injury or damage to equipment.
All of which means you can:
- Improve workplace safety
- Minimize risk of a costly spill
- Save thousands of dollars on crane rentals
- Improve production efficiency
The best part? You can purchase Newberry’s rugged new skid tank for roughly the same price as a bracket or saddle tank.
Gold Medal Winner for Best New Industrial Product
Newberry’s New Code Compliant Skid Tank is so original and so necessary that the judges at the American Business Awards gave it the Gold for Best New Industrial Product of 2021. Not just the best new tank on the market — but the best new industrial product, of any kind, in the entire country.
And thanks to all the customers that voted in the People’s Choice Award, we’re proud to announce our skid tank went on to win that, too.
Greater safety for your team, AND saving money? In the words of Metallica, “Nothing Else Matters.”
Watch THIS VIDEO if you want to see our AWARD-WINNING NEW SKID TANK. Contact us , or call today at 870-735-4473.
Oh, and since you brought up Metallica: uh, yeah, we can hear you singing in your car and it’s um…well. You might want to wait until you’ve left the company parking lot.
Steeling for Shortages
STEELING FOR SUPPLY SHORTAGES
As predicted by the Institute for Supply Chain Management at the beginning of the pandemic, resources we frequently take for granted are in short supply: microchips, building supplies…even garden seeds. Oh, and Perlite and fiberglass are in short supply, too.
What the heck is Perlite? It’s a key component to Fireguard® Steel Tanks. Which may explain why you might be experiencing longer lead times on a Fireguard tank no matter where you call.
Fiberglass shortages affect Permatank® and the ACT-100® model tanks, but we’ll get to those in a minute.
FIREGUARD TANKS AND PERLITE
Trademarked by the Steel Tank Institute [STI], all Fireguard Tanks are built to STI standards and use STI distributors for their materials. As mentioned, Perlite is a key component: it is used to mix an insulation barrier between the two walls of the tank. To find out why there is a shortage, we caught up with Sales Manager Jerry Schollmeyer, who has been with Morrison Bros. for 37 years. Morrison Bros. is the distributor for Perlite.
“We’ve never experienced a shortage in Perlite before. Most of what we manufacture is made right here in Iowa. Perlite is a different story. We are simply the distributor for the ingredient and have been since 2006. Strong [Company] mines the material in Mexico and processes it in New Mexico, before it’s shipped here. COVID affected some of the mining, so that created some delays. The snow in February then created additional shipping delays.”
Jerry continues, “But a bigger reason for the Perlite shortage is the number of states legalizing cannabis and marijuana.”
“The growers put it in the soil for growing.” A quick Google search shows this to be true — Perlite is the primary ingredient in popular garden feed Miracle Gro. “So that’s also having an impact on supply,” Jerry explains. Fifteen states have legalized marijuana: four did so in the 2020 election alone.
“But the great news is the situation will soon rectify itself. Demand was so high, Strong not only moved to a faster production schedule, but they went out and found new sources in Oregon and Georgia. So we should see the situation rectify itself within the next few months.”
ACT-100®, PERMATANK® AND FIBERGLASS
Fiberglass is also facing some challenges. Mike Floyd of North American Composites, the STI distributor for fiberglass, explains, “When the Chinese got into producing fiberglass years ago, most American companies got out – not enough margin. So when tariffs were imposed on Chinese fiberglass in 2018, we were left with only one domestic supplier here in the U.S., and that’s Owens-Corning. For everyone. Not just for manufacturing, but for the construction industry too.
“Then the pandemic hit. That slowed production, while building soared. And suddenly everyone wanted an inground pool for their staycation, too. Those use a lot of fiberglass,” Mike explains. Another quick Google search shows that demand for inground pool construction quadrupled during the pandemic.
The Texas freeze compounded fiberglass shortages. “Most of the fiberglass is made in Texas, but they didn’t have power. That created a couple more weeks’ worth of delays,” Mike adds. “All of which means the glass is in high demand, and currently allocated based on a percent of what you ordered. If you ordered 100,000 lbs. of glass in March, you’re going to get 25,000 lbs. of your order sometime later.”
“There’s also a driver shortage, and that’s affecting delivery times,” Mike continues. “We’ve had shipments that only need to be driven an hour from here. It’s actually harder to get a driver for that distance than it is something going hundreds of miles. The driver and/or company can make a lot more money based on distance, so shipments that should’ve gone Friday may have to wait until Tuesday the following week. And the cost goes up with demand.”
While almost 71% of all American freight is transported by truck, the shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. has been going on since 2018. It is estimated the industry will need to hire 1.1 million drivers over the next 10 years.
Bet you didn’t think pools, pot, power and portability would be the explanation behind delays in some models of steel tanks, but truth is still stranger than fiction.
For the time being, our strongest recommendation is that if you know you are going to need Fireguard tanks, Act-100 tanks or Permatanks, order earlier than you normally would. While both distributors stated they expect the situation to resolve in the next couple of months, planning ahead is just good common sense.
“And we’re all going to have to learn to be a little more patient,” Jerry adds.
That’s always a good lesson, too.
WHAT IS UP WITH THE COST OF STEEL?
WHAT IS UP WITH THE COST OF STEEL?
The price of steel is at levels not seen since 2008, just before the market crash. And according to MarketWatch, the peak is not yet in sight. As a manufacturer of steel tanks, this is unwelcome news to us, as we know it is to our customers.
We recently reached out to Sean McGahan at Shamrock Steel, an STI affiliate steel distributor who has worked in the business for two decades, to get a better understanding of why steel is spiking so dramatically.
The first thing he did was show us a letter he’d sent to his own client, explaining how his own company had been affected by the 96% increase in the cost of steel since June 2020.
COVID and Tariffs
McGahan explains, “One of the reasons for the spike is, of course, COVID. The uncertainty led to steel distributors letting their inventories get too low, and steel mills reducing their production in anticipation of slow sales.”
The fact that steel mills shuttered a full third of production from March to June of 2020 is well known. Manufacturers tried to protect their crews from COVID and shore up production as markets predicted an economic downturn. That created an immediate shortage.
But what’s less known is just how wrong that forecast turned out to be: as interest rates dropped to historic lows, new construction boomed. Business Insider summed it up: “The hottest pandemic purchase is a house, as more and more Americans take advantage of low mortgage rates to attain spacious backyards and more comfortable work-from-home locales.”
Another major contributing factor to the spike in steel prices was tariffs. McGahan continues, “The tariffs enabled steel manufacturers to raise their prices without fear of foreign competition, at least to a point.” The steel tariffs have helped U.S. steel mills compete domestically against foreign companies since 2018. However, they have simultaneously hurt manufacturers downstream of those tariffs. According to a recent study by Columbia University, about half the cost of the 25% tariff on foreign steel is passed along to domestic steel distributors, which gets passed along again to us, the steel tank manufacturers.
The combination has driven the price of steel “off the charts,” as McGahan describes it.
So when does it end?
There is reason to hope that prices may peak or decline in the second half of 2021 due to new steel mills going online. However, putting a date on a calendar is — at best — imprecise: new infrastructure initiatives, combined with a still-booming real estate market means we may have to endure this situation a bit longer.
Equally, distributors worry about buying too much steel while the price is at an all-time high and getting stuck with the inventory, so the tug of war between supply and demand continues for all of us. As McGahan explains, “These rapid increases in steel pricing make it difficult for estimators to stay ahead of the curve, and they are frustrating to everyone except maybe the steel mills. In times like these I try to keep my customers informed as best I can, but it’s very hard when the increases come one after another.”
We’re trying to keep you informed, too. Let’s hope the situation rectifies sooner rather than later.
The Golden Arms: Welding at Newberry Tanks
“Quality is never an accident,” or so the saying goes. But what goes into quality, and/or craftsmanship? Specifically, when you’re talking about welding? Is craftsmanship purely raw talent with the torch, or does it require more?
While welding a sculpture arguably requires only talent, welding steel tanks for oil and petroleum storage requires not only skill, but dedication, effort, and discipline, every day on the job. Each and every oil tank must perform perfectly for the thousands of oil jobber, lube, PEI and agricultural industries that rely on oil and petroleum storage so their own businesses can function. The tanks must also meet industrial, fire, and governmental compliance codes, to protect our safety and our environment. In short, every tank, must be a masterpiece. That’s a high bar.
We decided to pay a visit to the production floor, to find out more about how Newberry achieves that kind of craftsmanship.
Welding with Confidence
The heat is the first thing that strikes you on the floor.
“In the summer, it can be over 100 degrees in here. We have fans and forced air to keep them cool, but welding is by nature hot. And they’re standing a lot of the time, probably 50-75% of the time,” Jerry Cagle explains. Cagle, Director of Inside Sales and Customer Service at Newberry, has been with the company for more than 45 years.
More than 70% of the welders at Newberry have been with the company 10 years or more, and most in the trade for a decade more. As veteran welders, the majority are in their 40’s or 50’s. It’s difficult to imagine what kind of endurance they must have to withstand the heat, let alone, how much of the day they are on their feet at that age. Recruiting veteran welders, let alone retaining them, must be difficult?
Cagle nods, “We know what we have in our guys, and we respect them. We let them work at their own pace, decide when they need breaks.”
Measure Twice, Fit Once
The floor is alive with activity: gas tanks, diesel tanks, DES tanks, and of course oil storage tanks are all in production. So what is the process for their craftsmanship?
Jerry explains, “The steel is brought out in flats for rolling. We use a standardized, A Grade 36 steel for all standard tanks. As a member of The Steel Tank Institute, we have to use codified, optimal materials. There’s never any question of substitutions, because as an STI member, we are subject to period unannounced inspections, to ensure the materials and that every tank is built to all applicable UL codes in material and design.”
He continues, “Now once the steel is on the floor, we use a Lean Manufacturing process. Every tank is made by one welder start to finish, rather than a team. He’s assigned a tank – say a 10,000-gallon tank. And he’s allotted 8 hours to build that tank on his own. It’s a semi-automated process but he rolls his own sheets out. A 10,000-gallon tank requires five shells. The welder must get them absolutely even – length width and depth. If they miss by even one inch, they’d have problems once they got to the weld – any error like that and it wouldn’t fit up. So they measure everything twice. There’s no room for any mistakes.”
Flux Core Welding & Butt Joints
The true Newberry difference in design is due to flux core welding, as well as butt joints. They require skill from a welder, as well as patience and intention.
“You have to hold the gun precisely in one position, for quite some time,” Jerry explains. “The gun has a little trigger on it. You pull the trigger and wire shoots out of the arc. The arc comes up when the wire hits the steel, melting the wire and fusing the steel. The beauty of the flux core is that it actually does a better job keeping foreign metals out of the melted steel and that helps give you a good weld. If it didn’t have the flux core it would have all kinds of pin holes in it and bubbles and blisters, trash and dust.”
“Some of our competitors still use a sub-arc technique, but we switched years ago after we compared both methods and realized that a sub-arc is slow, which means the build is slower, and that adds to the cost for the customer.”
“Saving time with the flux core technique also means we can use butt joints, which are stronger than the lap joints a lot of our competitors use. A butt joint means they abutted two pieces of steel and welded that seal inside as well as outside. A lap joint – or joggle joint – is an overlap joint. It’s not welded on the inside. That means it’s a weaker point on a tank.”
Work Fast, Work Well
Once the tank is welded, the welder will test the tank himself: air test, test for leaks, structural variables, any kind of damage or weakness. If the tank passes every test, the process will be repeated by another welder on the floor to ensure the test itself is correct before the tank is sent out the door as a finished product.
“Our welders work fast. First, because they can: they’re all veterans, as I’ve mentioned. But also there’s a built-in bonus if they can build that 10,000-gallon tank in less than the 8 hours allotted. That’s how we keep our welders happy: they can make more money at Newberry.”
But how does working faster mean better? Isn’t there a risk something would get overlooked? No. Newberry has a failsafe: their Lean Manufacturing principles mean only one welder works on each tank, and each tank has a production number. The welder’s name is inseparable from the quality of his work.
But it’s more than that to these “Golden Arms”, as true artisan welders are called. It’s a matter of pride. Jerry explains, “Frankly, if there was a problem, these guys would pull the tank themselves rather than have the other guys see it.”
Music Must Continue
We Got Rhythm!
Newberry Tanks is a proud Gold Level Sponsor for Stax Music Academy, a program of the Soulsville Foundation, which also operates the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Founded in 2000, the Academy is celebrating 20 years of equipping young musicians with the skills they need to excel in music, as well as leadership training. In addition to our sponsorship, Newberry Tanks is proud to support Stax Music Academy’s #MusicMustContinue campaign by matching every donation made during the week of August 3 up to $5,000!
COVID-19 has forced many organizations — including Stax Music Academy — to go virtual. Simultaneously, many schools are slashing their budgets for the arts, so Stax Music Academy is now providing free virtual workshops and classes for all students in Shelby County to those without. The music must continue for these young students. Together, we can be a lifeline for kids across Memphis and Shelby County, making music education accessible regardless of their ability to pay.
Why is Newberry investing in a Memphis music academy? Read on.
Newberry Employee of the Year 1946: B.B. King
In 1946, Newberry Tanks was a thriving supplier of oil tanks and equipment thanks to hard work, quality products, reliable delivery times, and intentional innovation. But that year, Newberry was also the employer of legendary blues guitarist Booker (Bukka) White, and his young second cousin…none other than the ‘King of the Blues’ himself, B.B. King.
The story goes like this: Bukka worked for founder Jimmy Newberry at Newberry Tanks long before he became a celebrity, his skills as welder as deft as his skills on a guitar. After a stint in prison, Bukka needed a job and went back to see Jimmy. Bukka was expecting a no, but Jimmy hired him back, believing everyone deserves a second chance.
One day Bukka arrived home to find his young cousin, Riley King, asleep on his stoop. Going by “Blues Boy” (soon to become B.B.), the King of the Blues was barely more than a teenager. He’d hitched all the way from Mississippi, in the hope his famous cousin would introduce him to the Memphis music scene. Bukka not only did that, but introduced him to Jimmy so he could support himself. Together, Bukka and B.B. welded by day at Newberry, and set fire to Memphis blues scene at night.
Bukka never forgot the kindness Jimmy Newberry had shown him and his young cousin: he stayed with the company the rest of his career. B.B. left Newberry to become a musical legend.
The Music Must Continue
Today Newberry Tanks is committed to continuing Jimmy’s legacy of supporting musicians in recognition of and respect for the talents and craftmanship of our current and former employees.
Making music just got a little harder, while playing a key role in keeping us all going through these hard times. The music must indeed continue. Here at Newberry, we are #StrongAsSteel” and we intend to help make sure these kids, the community, and the world at large can foster and enjoy the music. Join us in supporting and celebrating the work this wonderful academy is doing. And be sure to tune in for their music online! They can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Help us in supporting this worthy cause! You can donate here.
Newberry Tanks and Memphis-based Stax Music Academy Announce Sponsorship
West Memphis, AR May 7, 2020 – Today Newberry Tanks LLC and the Memphis-based Stax Music Academy jointly announced that Newberry is a new Gold Level Sponsor for several programs of the academy. The sponsorship will enable talented children and young adults to receive musical training and mentorship at Stax.
The brainchild of Memphis business professionals, philanthropists, and former Stax Records artists and founded in conjunction with the adjacent Stax Museum of American Soul Music at the original site of Stax Records, the Stax Music Academy is now celebrating its 20th anniversary as both an institute that offers intensive music education and youth development programming.
The investment holds special meaning for Newberry Tanks as well.
Newberry Tanks CEO Chris Long commented, “As a Memphis company, we feel we have a responsibility to uphold the tradition started by our founder, Jimmy Newberry, in supporting the blues and blues musicians. Not many people know this, but back in the 1940’s, Newberry Tanks employed Bukka White and B.B. King as welders, even though Bukka was newly released from prison and King had no experience as a welder. Full-time employment wasn’t always easy to find in post-war Memphis, but Jimmy believed in them both, and by enabling them with full-time employment, he helped enable them to give the gift of their music to the world.”
Long continued, “Great music is a gift that never ages, while great talent is rare and frequently in need of support. We have watched the students at the Stax Music Academy for years and we’ve decided it’s our duty to get involved. We look forward to a great partnership with the Stax Music Academy for many years to come.”
According to Stax Music Academy Executive Director Pat Mitchell, “The Stax Music Academy is always appreciative of corporate support and sponsorships, but this new partnership with Newberry Tanks holds a special place for us because of their involvement in the rich history of Memphis music, which is the core of what we teach, study, and perform. Blues and rhythm and blues are genres in which our students excel, so it’s only fitting that the company that once employed B.B. King and Bukka White are now supporting the Stax Music Academy.”
For more than 90 years, award-winning Newberry Tank and Equipment has been manufacturing quality aboveground and underground steel tanks for the American Supply Chain and every branch of the U.S. military. The “Think Tank” of Oil and Petroleum storage, Newberry Tanks is intent on innovation: offering tanks on demand, dedicated customer service, turnkey solutions, and the fastest delivery in the country. *Ask about our Preferred Customer Program
Founded in June 2000, the Stax Music Academy inspires young people and enhances their academic, cognitive, performance, and leadership skills by utilizing music with an intense focus on the rich legacy and tradition of Stax Records. It exists to nurture and present the next generation of great Soul Communicators from the greater Soulsville region, holistically equipping them to excel and to impact the world through the universal language of music.