Shale support company acts as Romney stage
Joseph Sites found bleak job prospects in Western Pennsylvania when he graduated in 2000 from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in chemical engineering.
“I had to uproot myself and my family to North Dakota to get back to Western Pennsylvania,” said Sites, 35, a Bethel Park native whose career also took him to Houston, New Orleans, Mexico and Dallas.
Then, the natural gas boom began here, bringing not only drillers eager to tap the bounty in the Marcellus shale but support companies such as Horizontal Wireline Services of North Huntingdon.
The Westmoreland County company, which Sites started in 2010, runs wires into gas and oil wells to help with extraction.
On Tuesday, it will serve as the backdrop for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's latest visit to Western Pennsylvania. Before a fundraiser Downtown, the former Massachusetts governor will speak about growing middle class jobs and the energy industry at a rally at Horizontal Wireline Services.
Economists say companies such as Sites' demonstrate how one industry can have huge effects on a region.
“This is the kind of a spinoff that has positive economic ramifications,” said Robert Strauss, a Carnegie Mellon University professor of economics and public policy. “The money is being used in the community and for the most part, stays in the region.”
Sites said the company employs more than 100 people who work in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and, most recently, Texas.
“That is a far cry from when we started,” said Michael Cameron, 31, of Upper St. Clair, a Beaver County native who joined the company in October 2010. “It was a very small company; there were about maybe 20 or 30 of us.”
Sites said Cameron is a good example of many of the employees who have flourished.
“He basically started at the bottom and has worked his way up to crew chief,” he said.
Sites said starting salaries range from $60,000 to $80,000. After two or three years, salaries often exceed $100,000.
Cameron said his crew of six or seven workers spend weeks to months at a site.
“We spend money at the local hotels and mom-and-pop motels, buy groceries, eat at the family-style restaurants,” he said.
Matthew Marlin, economics professor at Duquesne University, said the phenomenon is called the regional multiplier effect.
“Horizontal Wireline is one step removed from the shale company. They profit and grow, the employees buy homes, settle into the community, spend money and so on,” Marlin said.
Sites said he relied on a private investor to finance the company in March 2010 because he could not get financing from a bank.
Republicans contend President Obama's environmental regulations threaten domestically produced energy, such as coal and natural gas.
Sites, a registered Republican who lives in Peters, donated $1,000 to the Romney campaign in November, federal campaign records show. He said he is not a GOP regular.
“I have voted for members of both parties before,” he said.
State Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, recruited Sites' company for the Romney visit.
“I am definitely leaning strongly towards Romney,” Sites said. “I am interested in the candidate who plans to further our advancement in oil field service and who is best for the energy industry.”
Salena Zito is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Panthers fall to Hawaii in game they were expected to win
- Tire comes off, hits oncoming car, kills 1 on Route 28
- 7 arrested in Latrobe-area drug dealing
- Steelers’ Wheaton embraces expanding role
- Fleury denied 300th win as Penguins lose to Islanders in shootout
- On senior day, Pitt not giving up the fight
- Crowds pack Downtown Pittsburgh to enjoy Light Up Night festivities
- Central Valley beats rival West Allegheny to win WPIAL Class AAA championship
- Iron ore price decline hurts U.S. Steel’s cost advantage over rivals
- Health Center could reopen after court ruling
- Play of nose tackles could have impact on Steelers’ stretch run