With more than $15 billion in industrial investment recently announced, Beaumont and the surrounding region of Southeast Texas is alive and kicking in economic hard times. Benefiting from that expansion boom is Beaumont-based Munro's Safety Apparel.
"Our business continues to grow with the billions of dollars of expansions that have either recently completed or are underway.? These projects should span anywhere from 3 - 7 years," said Munro's president, Susan Gallier.
Among the pending Beaumont area projects are:
- Eastman Chemical Co. - a $1.6 billion gasification plant.
- AGL Resources -- $260 million natural gas storage facility
- Golden Pass -- $1 billion liquid natural gas terminal.
- Sempra -- $1 billion liquid natural gas terminal.
- Cheniere --? $1 billion liquid natural gas terminal.
- Motiva Enterprises - expanding to 600,000 barrels a day.
- Total -- a $1 billion coker unit.
- Valero -- $1 billion project to expand refinery capacity to 3.3 million barrels per day.
- ExxonMobil - a $350 million cogeneration and power network.
Other major industrial employers include DuPont, Huntsman Chemical and Westvaco paper mill. When these projects are up and running, contractors need make only one stop to properly outfit their workforce, Gallier said.
"We fit them in whatever fire resistant fabric required or preferred, provide emblems or direct monogram, make needed alterations, fit them in steel toe boots, hard hat and any other required PPE.? 30 minutes later they walk out the door and go to work in full compliance," she said.
Munro's started as a dry cleaning business in 1928. In the 1990s when OSHA began requiring NOMEX, Munro's went into uniform rentals and, in addition, provided direct sale of safety apparel.
Munro's Safety Apparel has three locations - Beaumont, Deer Park and Sulphur - but with the recent growth, they realized a need in the Port Arthur market and built a new facility opening there in November 2008.? The four locations represent close to $1 million in inventory on hand.
"It is unusual these days to have this much inventory," Gallier said. "That's what sets us apart. When a contractor comes in, he needs the PPE now. Many of the companies are hiring and, unlike other industries, the employees are needed in the field ASAP.? If the fire resistant apparel is not available, it delays the work and thus the project."
At the Beaumont location, Munro's keeps coveralls from size 36 to 70 on the shelf at all times, she said.
Munro's tailors its operation around the needs of its customers, Gallier said.
"A lot of companies, in the throws of turnarounds, might buy several hundred coveralls," she said. "At the end of the turnaround, they want them picked up, cleaned and returned to store until their next project.?
Munro's Uniform Services offers this service as well as NOG, dry lease for turnarounds, special projects or on an on-going basis.? They pick-up and deliver on a schedule convenient to the specific site and job, Gallier said.
Munro's also makes it a point to keep up with all the latest innovations in personal protective clothing. One innovation in particular that Munro's has seized is Tecasafe Plus, made by TenCate Protective Fabrics. Performing to NFPA 70E Category 2 and NFPA 2112 standards, Tecasafe Plus is a comfortable lightweight fabric that offers electric arc and flash fire protection.
"For many years there has been a trade off when it came to FR fabrics," Gallier said. "Better protection meant less comfort. Tecasafe Plus has FR capability plus comfort and extreme durability, unlike other fire retardant cotton products."
Because the fire retardance is inherent in the fabric, it does not wash out or wear out, she said. Tecasafe Plus meets the NFPA requirements with only one layer of fabric. Tecasafe Plus had the least shrinkage and no pilling.
"Some other fabrics meet the standard only when it is layered," Gallier said.
Another important asset of Tecasafe Plus is that it is much softer than its leading competitor, NOMEX, she said.
"It also wicks moisture from the body three times better than FRC," Gallier said. "And has excellent appearance and durability after many washings."
What sold Gallier on the fabric were the ASTM 1930 mannequin tests using a computerized mannequin to determine the percentage of body burn. Tecasafe Plus boasts a lower three-second manniquin burn percentage than other competitive FR fabrics in its class.
"The average percentage of body burn cannot exceed 50 percent to comply with NFPA 2112," Gallier said. "With NOMEX, this three-second exposure resulted in a 32 percent body burn. Tecasafe Plus was only about 15 percent."
However, introducing a new product such as Tecasafe Plus tends to be difficult with industrial customers, she said.
"In the larger petrochem companies, you have to go all the way to the top to get approval," Gallier said. "We've been able to introduce it to contractors because it's easier to find the top."
Either way, the decision makers are getting much improved safety, value and comfort while paying less. That is a rare occurrence when new technology is introduced.
For additional information about Munro's please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit Munro's at Booth 15 during the IFW Conference & Expo in March in Beaumont, TX.