The Texas economy is holding it own, at least for now. That’s what Commissioner Tom Pauken with the Texas Workforce Commission told those attending the Eighth Annual Industrial/Manufacturing Appreciation luncheon. The event, presented by the Weatherford Economic Development Authority (WEDA), and the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, took place on Feb. 27 and also recognized the businesses of the year.Pauken, the keynote speaker, addressed a crowd of more than 120 on concerns facing not only Texas’ future, but that of the entire country.“One of the central elements, in my estimation, of getting America back on track is rebuilding our U.S. manufacturing base,” Pauken said. “Unfortunately, because of shortsighted policies over decades has resulted in the hollowing out of our U.S. manufacturing base.”He said America was once the world’s leader in manufacturing and that he believed you cannot have a strong economy without a strong manufacturing base.“In the 1960s, there were twice as many jobs in U.S. manufacturing as there were government jobs,” Pauken added. “The reverse is the case today.”He said the need is greater than ever for more vocational opportunities.“So much of our educational system these days seem to be driven by a ‘teaching to the test’ mentality,” Pauken said. “In many ways, test learning has replaced real learning and meanwhile, in a great quest to push every student to go to a university, we de-emphasize the importance of career and technical education program at the high school level.”He said the issue of a shortage of skilled workers is simple but not easy to address. Pauken used as an example the graduating class of 2011, citing that 50 percent of college students will either be under employed or unemployed while at the same time accumulating on average $26,000 in college debt.“A graduate from Texas State Technical College, with a two-year associates degree in an engineering-related field, technological and instrumentation, can start in the petro-chemical industry at $68,000 a year,” Pauken said.He said from 2000 to 2010, the U.S. lost a third of manufacturing, or 5.5 million, good paying U.S. jobs to overseas competitors.“The U.S. economy is restructuring downward while the Chinese economy is restructuring upward,” Pauken added. “We used to be a country that once prided itself on having the strongest manufacturing base in the world.”He said creating more jobs meant growing the private sector.“Government doesn’t create jobs, only the private sector does,” Pauken said. “Meanwhile, we’re losing jobs overseas because of the most onerous tax system in the world.”He said that the only way for the U.S to survive was to get away from a tax system that rewards debt and more toward a tax system that rewards those that invest in America.Following Paukens address, Dennis Clayton, Executive Director of WEDA, and Tammy Gazzola, President of the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, recognized the small, medium and large business of the year.Clayton said he was proud of the event and the recognition and awareness it gives to the often overlooked industrial sector of the economy.“We certainly appreciate Commissioner Pauken taking the time to be our keynote speaker and his very insightful remarks,” Cayton said. “We thank all our sponsors that allow us to present this event free to the community and thank all those that attended who made this another near-capacity annual event.”• The small business award went to Rawlins Monuments.Rawlins Monument bioFour generations of the Rawlins Family have made monuments and placed them in cemeteries across Texas.Rawlins Monuments has more than 130 years of providing hope for families who have lost loved ones. A monument is a symbol of devotion: a tangible expression of love.Alex Rawlins, founder of the Rawlins Monuments, was an immigrant from England in 1870. In 1882, he came to Weatherford as an apprentice to Harry Todd of Todds Marble Works. In 1884, Rawlins and Charlie Robinson formed a partnership and opened a monument company on the first block of South Main Street in Weatherford. In 1887, Rawlins sold his interest in the business to Charlie Robinson. Rawlins, after buying lots one block west of the Square and erecting a small building of sheet iron, opened the Alex Rawlins Marble Works on Feb. 8, 1887, at 111 Palo Pinto Street.Alex Rawlins' son Frank entered the business in 1915 and in 1920 his other son, Bert, joined. The firm became known as Alex Rawlins and Sons. Rawlins and a helper did most of the cutting and lettering of the stone by hand, and Rawlins did the selling and setting of the completed monuments. Rawlins traveled extensively by rail into West Texas and New Mexico setting the monuments and taking orders that would be delivered in six to eight months. In the early days of the business, besides cash, payment might include cattle, horses and occasionally, household items.In 1946, the third generation of the business, Mark H. Littleton,, husband of Bert's daughter Virginia Ann, joined the firm. Alex Rawlins died in 1951 and the business continued under Bert and Frank Rawlins and Mark H. Littleton. In the 70's, Littlleton's son-in-law, David Deison, joined the firm and the company became Rawlins Monuments, Inc. Later, Frank Rawlins retired and Mark Rawlins Littleton, the fourth generation, began work at Rawlins. Deison left to work in the gas and oil business in the early 80's and Nancy Littleton Deison, granddaughter of Bert Rawlins, joined the company. Mark Littleton retired in 1985. Nancy and Mark R. ran the business together until Nancy retired in 2007. Mark Rawlins Littleton is now the sole owner, but it is still very much a family business.• The medium size business award went to American Pipe and Steel Co. /Ameri-Fab/Brazos Rock, Zack, Curtis and Shelley Chester, partners.American Pipe and Steel bioAmerican Pipe and Steel - located at 1813 Banks Dr. (on E. Bankhead and I-20) - was formed in 2005.The co-located Brazos Rock, Inc was formed in 2010. American Pipe and Steel is an integrated steel service center specializing: in reinforcing steel; structural steel; and metal building systems; They employ more than 35 locally.The American Pipe and Steel reinforcing steel fabrication centers are capable of estimating, detailing, and fabricating to project specifications.They provide rebar for building concrete structures and some highway construction and provide concrete rebar supplies. The Weatherford center serves the DFW area and can ship statewide.The Brazos Rock division has locations in Weatherford, the South Texas Eagle Ford shale and the Midland- Permian basin and provides aggregate for pipeline, well site and dirt-work construction.The Ameri-Fab structural steel division – located at 6364 W. I-20 – was founded in 2008 and constructed a new 40,000 SF structural steel fabrication center in 2012. This center stocks a wide range of products and sizes and supplies projects throughout the southern United States. The metal building division is staffed with experienced estimators and draftsmen who can offer design/build or plan and spec services for Pre-Engineered or Structural Steel Buildings. They provide services statewide.• The large size business award went to D&T Trucking, Tim Buffington, CEO.D&T Trucking bioD&Tof Weatherford was founded in 2007 and located at 1995 Ranger Highway. They built the current location on West Ranger Hwy in 2012 and, in 2012, expanded space with temporary office buildings.The truck maintenance facility and driver-dorm on Ranger Highway is operated by SW Intl. Trucking.D&T provides frac-sand transportation services to the natural gas/oil fields across Texas and the U.S. It has grown to over 400 units with both company and owner operators.D&T Trucking has a 24/7 centralized dispatch team that is based in Weatherford, at their home office, and currently supplies all the major oil field and natural gas shale's across the United States. They currently have units available in every shale in the nationD&T began supplying services to the North Texas Barnett Shale and has now grown to service the Eagle Ford Shale – South Texas, Permian Basin – West Texas, the Bakken Shale – North Dakota, the Marcellus Shale – NE, Pennsylvania, and the Utica Shale in NE USA.With more than 400 power units fleet wide D&T has the capacity to service all of their customers and their various needs nationwide.D&T Trucking is now one of the largest fracking sand-haulers in the U.S. The boom in hydraulic fracturing to mine for natural gas and oil has greatly increased mining for frac sand. The trucking industry continues to see a rise in jobs to deliver the frac sand from the mining sites to the drilling sites. D&T is now hiring military with heavy equipment experienceD&T utilizies High-tech logistics – GPS truck location & dispatch, lap-top cab-mounted billing/scanning; on-line (in-cab) ops and safety training.Hydraulic fracturing is making it possible to convert America's untapped energy potential into jobs, state and federal revenue and pave the path to clean and affordable energy.
Lance Winter, 817-594-9902, Ext. 102 Twitter: @LanceWinter