Sep 07, 2018

Heritage in Storage

Tank manufacturer celebrates 125 years developing & building storage tanks

Tank manufacturer celebrates 125 years developing & building storage tanks

Celebrating 125 years in business is an impressive achievement regardless of the industry in which the company manages its business, but that is what CST has done in the industrial manufacturing industry.

Midwestern Roots & Expansion 

In 1893, the Columbian Steel Tank Co., as CST was originally named, was founded by Andrew Kramer of Kansas City, Mo., as a fabricator of livestock water tanks.  

Over the years, the company increased its market share and became an industry leader in storage tanks and aluminum domes. Since the early days of serving the livestock industry, CST has evolved and grown its range of products. It now works in industries including municipal water and wastewater treatment; industrial water; fire protection; upstream and downstream oil and gas; petrochemical; food and beverage; pet food; plastics; mining; cement; aggregates; agriculture; architecture; and bioenergy. 

CST Ind. is the result of several strategic mergers and acquisitions over the past 125 years, including Trico Ind.; Black, Sivalls & Bryson (BS&B, later renamed Peabody TecTank); A.O. Smith Harvestore; Harvestore Products Group (later renamed Engineered Storage Products); Conservatek; and Temcor. These business decisions resulted in a combination of factory coated steel tank, aluminum cover and dome companies.

Oil and gas always has been a primary market for CST. In the 1920s, the company experienced a major period of growth during the Gulf Coast oil boom. Welded tanks were used to store crude oil in the fields, and as the servicing of the tanks was no longer required, they were demolished and discarded. CST innovated and developed the API-12B bolted steel tank, which could be disassembled and relocated at the next required location, saving time and money. Columbian Steel Tank was the first to design and manufacture the American Petroleum Institute (API) monogrammed bolted steel storage tank in 1929. TecTank was brought under the envelope of CST in 1970, and the API-12B standard is still featured in CST’s TecTank storage product offering.

The company had many market influences that presented opportunities for growth. A shortage in downstream oil and gas storage capacity resulted in a surge of business for CST from 2012 to 2015 for both new tank and retrofit applications. Global growth required that the company rapidly expand sales, support and operations in Latin America, Middle East and Asia. This development and strategy of global offices enabled CST to better service the growing energy and water industries in these markets and to solidify its place as a global manufacturer for storage and cover solutions.

During the Gulf Coast oil boom in the 1920s, CST Aquastore–called Columbian Steel Tank Co. at the time—experienced a period of rapid growth as it began supplying the oil and gas industry with its tanks.
During the Gulf Coast oil boom in the 1920s, CST Aquastore–called Columbian Steel Tank Co. at the time—experienced a period of rapid growth as it began supplying the oil and gas industry with its tanks.

A Drive to Innovate

“Innovation has always led the company, and our dedication and drive has brought many firsts to the industry,” said Tim Carpenter, CEO of CST Ind. “Part of what allows us to lead with innovation begins with a global footprint. We are tied very well to mega-trends driven by population growth in the areas that we operate. Many countries need to improve infrastructure to advance the quality of living and can do so via our current product portfolio and ability to innovate new solutions to meet customer needs.

“Our markets are driven by population growth, increasing quality of living and the global need for cheaper sources of energy,” he added. “For example, we’ve been at the forefront of developing and implementing storage and cover solutions for desalination plants all around the world. These efforts promote meaningful improvements in the quality of life by providing safe, clean, available drinking water that support the demands of global population growth. We also provide leading solutions that help to lower the cost of energy and to provide effective solutions for non-fossil fuels energy through our leadership in the global bioenergy storage market.”

In addition to the innovations Carpenter mentioned, CST started providing frack storage solutions for sand, water and other proppants through improvements in safe-direction drilling capabilities when fracking began its exponential expansion approximately eight years ago. The fracking market continues to be a large part of CST’s business, leading to deeper development of frack and sand silo products. CST also has been active in water recycling and waste management for the fracking market to protect the environment and support production efficiencies for the industry.  

Beyond market demand development efforts, CST has products that originated purely by happenstance. For instance, when A.O. Smith developed the glass-fused-to-steel tank for the dairy industry in 1949, it initially worked on creating hot water heaters. A.O. Smith leveraged its technology with the fusion of glass frit to carbon steel at 1,500ºF, and invented a silo that would exceed the life cycle of concrete silo products. Over time, Harvestore has become known for silage solutions. In respect, Harvestore and Slurrystore tanks were born.

“CST has ongoing research projects, a dedicated product development program and will constantly invest to enhance its manufacturing processes to satisfy our clients’ needs,” Carpenter said. “We do focus more often than not on our core markets because we know them so well. We have spent a lot of time working in the water and wastewater industries. We have the world’s largest market share and that’s where we spend time and money on innovation.

“The same can be said for oil and gas storage and cover solutions. We have also invested to provide product innovations that improve the value to customers in other industries, such as food, dry bulk storage, plastics and agriculture to name but a few.”

While tanks have been the backbone of CST’s business since it started in the late 1800s, coatings also  are a large part of the 125-year-old business’ product developments.
While tanks have been the backbone of CST’s business since it started in the late 1800s, coatings also are a large part of the 125-year-old business’ product developments.

Years’ Old Track Record

CST works with customers to provide solutions to fill their needs. The company uses customer feedback to drive investments and advancements in new technologies. CST has pride in its process to develop new offerings for its global clientele, and its team always aims to be at the forefront of technology innovations to maximize customer value due to market changes and progression.

“Our products are about improving the customers’ value proposition. Just over the past few years, the company has launched products driven by customer need.” Carpenter said. These products include the TecTank FP, Edgecoat II, OptiDome, and Harvestore series of cutters, conveyors, breater bags and gearboxes.

Coatings also are a vital part of the CST product offering. Along with pioneering coatings for tanks in 1893 and enameling glass-fused-to-steel technology to tanks in the 1940s, the company also was one of the first to factory-coat tanks with epoxy in 1978 with Trico Bond 478. 

Through decades of research and development, CST developed Trico Bond EP and Trico Bond SD coatings and engineered the OptiBond epoxy coating process, now proven through years of in-field experience and performance data. Together with CST’s Vitrium glass coating, the company offers coating solutions that ensure asset protection, enabling them to provide a long life. 

The glass-fused-to-steel product is suitable for the municipal water and wastewater markets around the world. With tanks still in service for more than 35 years, Vitrium, TiO2 and Edgecoat offer long life cycles for tanks.

Edgecoat II advanced the coating by providing a 360-degree coating on all dimensions of tank sheets. With these improvements, the coating also is more uniform that its predecessor.

The OptiDome not only was invented with the intent to be an efficient and effective dome product, but also was designed to offer a globally compliant product with fast, easy, and safe installation. It also reduces emissions and maintenance on the external floating roof. The geodesic dome design uses gasketed stainless steel fasteners and is available with exposed or non-exposed sealant at the nodes.  

The new OptiDome technlology scales to fit any size tank, even the largest ones seen in the industry. By removing internal columns needed to prop up the dome, storages space is improved and internal maintenance of the tank is made easier.

Carpenter said offerings like Edgecoat II and OptiDome contribute to the company’s long-term success. The products are not the only contributor, however, as company’s culture fosters a desire in its employees and management to explore new ideas and find even better solutions. That philosophy has guided the company for 125 years, he added. 

Next Steps for Storage

As for the future, CST is developing new products that it hopes will be game-changers for the industries it serves.  

“We’re ecstatic about growing with Solace Capital. Solace understands industrial project businesses and they understand our markets and industries both from an operational and strategic perspective,” Carpenter said. “They’re engaged in supporting CST and [are] very interested in continuing to invest in the business. We are looking forward to driving CST growth as we have for 125 years: via innovation, mergers and acquisitions, where appropriate partnering with other great companies makes sense, and provide consistent solutions for customers around the world. To this end, Solace’s vision of the right investments and CST are spot on. We are very confident that the fit with Solace is a perfect one.”

Solace is active with regards to acquisitions, and Carpenter said the company has a robust funnel of acquisition targets where there is a serious opportunity for growth. Future acquisitions, he noted, would enable development of better solutions to customers.

CST has five manufacturing facilities to service its customers worldwide. It also has installations in more than 120 countries.
CST has five manufacturing facilities to service its customers worldwide. It also has installations in more than 120 countries.

Customers & Culture

In addition to engineering, manufacturing and installation support, CST ensures its customers are cared for long after the initial work is complete.

The CST maintenance program offers remote-operated vehicle and drone tank inspection; visual and ultrasonic inspection; repair; modification; and turnkey services.  

“One of the many areas that is important to us is to ensure that the installation is completed by individuals that are authorized and have been through factory-approved training,” Carpenter said. “The installation of the product is a very large part of the cost, so we are developing new ways to design products that make it easier and quicker to install. We want to make sure that we are there on the occasion when a tank needs care.”

Carpenter said the company is working to create awareness among its install base on the proper care and maintenance of its products. These tools, he noted, are critical for owners and operators to understand and develop their OEM service needs and relay them to manufacturers.

Not all customers are external, however. CST Ind. is a large global company, so internal workings and an enthusiastic staff are the backbone for its growth, research, development and positive customer service. Whether internal or external, people come first, Carpenter said.

“It is important to ensure all staff, wherever they are based, are aware of the CST company ethos alongside its business practices and processes. To achieve this, the company relies on CST+ Business Process, the heartbeat of our business,” Carpenter said. “We train and develop our team members on the tools and processes of CST+. Our culture is a ‘people first’ approach, as we truly believe that we are only as strong as the people that make up CST.”

CST’s company culture focuses on continuous improvement, exceptional results for all stakeholders, and development of highly capable teams. Carpenter attributes much of the company’s success to its “highly valued elite team of representatives, authorized dealers, strategic partners, dedicated customers and employees.” 

“CST’s solid market position, impressive product offerings and use of innovative technology continues to set benchmark standards for the storage tank and dome manufacturing industry,” Carpenter said. “We are forward-focused and look forward to our next era of success as a company.”

CST has five manufacturing facilities, technical design centers and multiple regional sales offices located throughout North America and the U.K. International offices are located in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, U.K., United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. It currently has an installed base in more than 120 countries and plans to work in many more, something that could be achieved by future acquisitions.

About the author

Kim Mathis is global marketing director for CST Ind. Mathis can be reached at [email protected]

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