Exhibitors roll with economy at OKC fairgrounds
OKLAHOMA CITY — With business recovering throughout the oil and natural gas sector, Jim Sandburg spent most of the day Thursday at his familiar spot near the front of about 260 vendor booths at the Oklahoma Oil & Gas Expo.
He has been in the same place each of the past four years as the industry reached a peak, retreated and then began a slow recovery.
“It feels like a responsibility,” the vice president at Oklahoma Citybased Spicer & Sandburg Inc. said of his company's sponsorship of the expo even during the downturn. “It's part of the oil field community. We feel like there's a responsibility to help them maintain that.”
Spicer & Sandburg is a wholesale distributor for oil field supply stores. Like much of the oil field service and supply industry, Spicer & Sandburg's business largely dried up over the past two years as industry activity stalled.
“We're inventory for people,” Sandburg said. “They didn't need to
buy anything for a while.”
The company's business tumbled about 90 percent during the downturn but now has increased 187 percent from one year ago, Sandburg said.
“We're on our way back up,” he said.
Besides dealing with cyclical trends, Sandburg and the industry's other suppliers must stay ahead of trends, knowing what parts will be needed where. Participating in this week's expo is one way Sandburg keeps in touch with current and potential customers.
“We've been in this show for a lot of years,” he said.
Sponsored by Sustaining Oklahoma's Energy Resources — formerly known as the Oklahoma Marginal Well Commission — the expo focuses on suppliers and service companies throughout the region. After being spread through two or three buildings at the state fairgrounds over the past several years, the event was relocated this year to the new Bennett Event Center, a 201,000-square-foot exhibition hall.
“In the past, people would go to one building, then go to lunch in a different building and go home. So one building missed the whole crowd,” said Mindy Stitt, executive director of the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, which oversees the marginal well division and the expo. “Having everyone under one (roof) has been great.”
The event is designed to support oil and natural gas production in Oklahoma, especially in the state's older wells.
“It helps the marginal producer because they can find new technology to maintain their wells longer or bring on new production,” Stitt said. “Anything we can do to help production is good for the state.”