Special Piping Materials’ Houston office first opened in 2008 and since then has seen rapid expansion and has been involved with many large projects.
The company is now known for its 60,000 sq. ft warehouse which stocks one of the largest inventories of Duplex and Super Duplex pipe, fittings and flanges in North America. New high-quality stock arrives every week to service the high expectations of the team’s expansive client base.
The future looks bright for the office, with expansion looking likely and new clients regularly coming on board.
Instrumental to this success is Sales Manager James Newton. James originally started his career with Special Piping Materials at the headquarters in Manchester but moved to Texas in 2016.
- How long have you worked with SPM?
Just over 8.5 years now; 4 years spent in the Manchester office and the rest in Houston.
- What role are you currently in?
I’m currently Sales Manager for SPM Houston.
- Can you give us an overview of your career so far?
I began my career with SPM in Manchester and initially started by quoting simple stock sales. From there I progressed to quoting more complex jobs and focused on sales in the Middle East. An exciting opportunity to move to Houston transpired so I made the decision to move and since then have been promoted to Sales Manager.
- What’s your favourite (and least favourite) day-to-day task?
My favourite task is entering orders as nothing beats the feeling of processing a hard won PO! My least favourite is picking up and sifting through everyone else’s paperwork from the printer!
- What made you want to work for SPM?
I’d just graduated from University and was struggling to find a job. I remember sitting down with Les Buckley (the CEO and Founder of Special Piping Materials) for an interview and he told me about the great team spirit, how exciting the industry was to be a part of and the potential for career growth. I wanted so badly to be a part of that, and I’ll be forever thankful that they took a chance on me.
- What is your focus at the moment in your role?
My current focus is on maintaining the positive relationships we have with our key customers and driving growth through increased sales. I also hold sales meetings, set targets, help out other sales staff with material specifications and constantly monitor stock levels so that we can provide the best possible service for our customers.
- Where are the opportunities in the North American region?
Traditionally a lot of material in North America was required to be tested to ATM only, now we’re starting to see an increased number of customer requirements with material that has to meet various specifications which suits us perfectly. Our stock is already tested to a high level, but we also have the experience & ability to upgrade material to meet additional customer requirements if necessary and a lot of customers rely on our expertise in this area.
- What do you think the future holds for the piping world?
I think the future is bright. As the world continues to evolve and expand I think we’ll see increased market demand for refined products and therefore the specialist piping that we provide.
Many people don’t even realise the diverse range of products that originate from petroleum such as plexiglass, hearing aids, solar panels, food preservatives and many more. Even electric vehicles (EV) require roughly 10,000 plastic parts and rubber for the tires. Lithium is also major component to make EV batteries and that is mined using corrosion resistant piping. Consequently, demand for our products is sure to continue!
- What keeps you motivated at work each day?
Success is a huge motivator for me, I feel that the company’s vision is aligned with my own and knowing that our team’s effort directly contributes to the success of SPM encourages me to push myself harder. The expansion of our current warehouse and increased inventory levels is a perfect example of that.
- How do you relax after a hard day’s work in the office?
I like video games and even used to play FIFA at an elite standard! These days I don’t have the time as much so just play for fun and it’s a lot less stressful. I also enjoy grilling on the balcony and hanging out with my wife and two dogs, one’s a French Bulldog so constantly has us laughing!
- If you had to choose another office around the world to work in, which would it be and why?
I would move back home and work for the Manchester Office as all my family and friends are still there so it would be nice to spend more time with them, occasionally I even miss the weather! I also still have a Manchester City Season ticket so would be able to watch the greatest football team in the world in person again.
- How do you think the new Biden administration will affect the piping world?
Only time will tell I think but It’s certainly going to be interesting, he’s already made his presence felt with the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and halting new drilling leases on federal land. Donald Trump imposed section 232 tariffs on some of our products so we’re tracking those developments closely to see if they’ll be removed – fingers crossed!
- How do you think coronavirus has affected the piping world?
I don’t think it has affected the demand for piping, but It has certainly affected how the piping world operates. With restrictions now easing, we’re excited to visit and catch up with customers again, some of whom will not be returning to the office but will be working permanently from home. It’s forced us to make sure that we have 24/7 access to our system which allows us to send quotes no matter where we are In the world.