Lufkin Industries taking greener path

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - They're known for the oil business, but now Lufkin Industries is taking a greener path. "Wind turbines are at the top of the list today," said Shawn Calhoun, Lufkin Industries Gear Repair Division general manager.

The combination of Lufkin Industries and the turbine repair business is a natural one as the company already specializes in gear boxes, a vital component of a windmill. "We're strategically located in several of the major wind areas," said Calhoun.

Calhoun said the company's European counterparts do not have the same service centers as Lufkin. "Rather than packaging these damaged gear boxes up and shipping them back to Europe we saw an opportunity for us to produce the repair services locally," said Calhoun.

In order to capitalize on that service, Lufkin Industries had to renovate a 27,000 square-foot building to make room. "We hope the building is complete by the end of the month," said Calhoun.

Currently there are seven Lufkin Industries employees working on repairing windmills. "We have numerous gear boxes being prepared as we speak," said Calhoun.

Calhoun said it is hard to gauge how many jobs the windmill repair business will create. "It's hard to determine yet just how large of a work force we will need and it's all going to be volume-related with our customers," said Calhoun.

Calhoun said windmill gear boxes have a five to ten percent failure rate. "Whether it's gearing related or baring related, but something within the gear box is damaged is when we will typically get the green light for the receipt of the gear box and repair," said Calhoun.

He said it is an evolving business. "It's a good opportunity for us to test the market and think the opportunities are endless," said Calhoun.

There is approximately one wind turbine installed every five hours in America. Calhoun said the company has been working on venturing into this industry for years.