Orange County’s Pacific Tank & Construction Inc. builds business through finding inspired solutions to unique client needs

Since 1992, Pacific Tank & Construction Inc. has seen a lot of growth – from humble roots, founder James Jeffers has grown the business into a West Coast contractor of choice for the fabrication and erection of tanks to serve the water, oil and gas, petrochemical, dry chemical, bulk material, and renewable energy industries. In a sector with sizable competition, it is PTC’s reliability and resourcefulness that set it above the rest.

The Advantages of Small Business

As Pacific Tank & Construction knows, there are advantages to being a smaller business that are of serious benefit to clients. “Being smaller in nature, we’re more nimble and able to react on a regional basis and serve our customers,” says Doug Smith, Vice President of Sales at PTC. “Being smaller doesn’t necessarily mean that our capabilities are limited, as we have the right resources to tackle the tough projects.”

“Our philosophy is this – if the project doesn’t make sense to our customer, it doesn’t make sense to us,” says Smith. “We take our customers’ objectives and goals as our own and commit to meet those expectations, in an amicable and friendly way rather than being adversarial. I like to call it being ‘user friendly.’”

A New Challenge in Every Project

There are many questions you can ask Pacific Tank & Construction Inc., but asking which project stands out as most unique won’t get you very far. But therein lies the excitement – each project is an opportunity to get creative and deliver to clients the best possible solution.

“All of them present a unique challenge,” explains Smith. In Gila Bend, Arizona, the company has faced the challenge of building tanks as part of a solar energy project converting the sun’s rays into electricity by way of mirror arrays. In San Jose, a collaborative project with engineering firm Black & Veatch Engineering for the Santa Clara Valley Water District involved using reserve osmosis and micro filtration to purify ‘grey water’ for use in public parks, conserving potable water and preventing pollution in streams and tributaries in the process, utilizing stainless steel supplied by Samuel Sons to build the largest stainless steel water recycling tank built on the West Coast to date. A similar project for a refinery in the Bay Area involved another large stainless steel water tank, and has resulted in the conservation of five billion gallons of potable water annually and has kept five billion gallons of wastewater out of a sensitive ecosystem.

Meanwhile, in the LA Basin, a unique challenge came in the form of a refinery tank built in the 1970s with a 155-ft diameter floating roof that had collapsed due to a seismic event. “Particularly challenging to the client and Pacific Tank was to ‘duplicate’ the original roof’s emission allowances while incorporating current code standards and client increased design criteria,” says Smith. What’s more – the owner of the tank was losing significant revenue every week that the tank was out of service, meaning that completing the project in a timely fashion was critical. PTC was able to meet the new criteria and have the refinery tank ready for operation a week before Christmas.

Two significant other projects, one to a major upstream oil company and one to store imported palm oil, involve the use of special grades of stainless steel called “lean duplex.” These grades represent special added value through higher strength and corrosion resistance. PTC and its material supplier, Arcelor Mittal, furnished material samples to the client to decide on the correct material. Arcelor also furnished invaluable technical support to develop weld procedures to maintain the strength and corrosion resistance.

A Friendly Neighbor in the Land of Movie Stars

Even municipal projects can come with some interesting circumstances, and one recent project for Pacific Tank has proved one of their most challenging. “The City of Beverly Hills selected us through a bidding process. Their water system was antiquated having five reservoirs that didn’t meet current design standards with regard to seismic anchorage or failure. One at a time over the past three years, we have to go in and take an existing reservoir out of service, demolish it, construct new foundations, and build a new reservoir with anchorage to meet the current seismic design codes,” Smith says.

The challenge: this is Beverly Hills. “We’re working in the middle of a very high profile residential neighborhood –one of the tank sites was right below a major star’s house,” notes Smith. “You’re here in the land of Hollywood giants that like their privacy, and to do that without being an intrusive neighbor has been very unusual.”

But “unusual” by no means equates to impossible – to the contrary, throughout the project PTC has devised means to mitigate any noise or disturbance by only working during certain hours, limiting trucks on site, and taking care to provide fire protection during welding and grinding operations to guard the neighborhood’s vulnerable homes and underbrush.

In the end, all of the hard work and planning is paying off: with one tank left to build, Beverly Hills is in good shape and PTC in good standing. “It’s an upgrade to their fire protection facilities, in addition to providing sources of clean drinking water,” says Smith. “To do all that without getting calls from upset residents because of the noise and construction activities – apparently we’ve been doing okay.”

The Road Ahead for Pacific Tank

Even as Pacific Tank & Construction’s Beverly Hills project is winding down, the business already has new projects in the pipeline including a high profile project that will use stored thermal energy to provide heat and cooling to 109 campus buildings at a major California university.

What keeps clients lining up to work with PTC? “I go back to user-friendliness,” says Smith. “It’s all about sustainability and lowest total installed cost. PTC supplies our valued clients by meeting and exceeding expectations, whether it is for a tank that stores industrial or municipal waste water, crude oil, refined gases, biofuels or potable drinking water .We have to be price competitive, but we listen to our customers and we try to operate on a philosophy of meeting them a little bit more than halfway. We feel that, by doing that, we turn them into repeat customers. It’s a partnering approach, a true partnership.”

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