The secret of MOGAS’ success is not really a secret. They are well known for partnering with their customers to solve the problems in severe service applications. But, they have also formed strong relationships with their representative network world wide to develop and grow an ‘only one team’ philosophy.
Australian-based Optimum Control has been a MOGAS rep for 20 years. During this time they have become the first MOGAS Authorized Repair Center (outside Houston), have had US$120 million in sales of MOGAS products and have received ‘Top Producer’ awards on many occasions.
Optimum Control – The early years
In 1979 Dave Hamilton began Optimum Control Pty Limited so he could work as an independent instrument technician and engineer on the chemical, oil and refining sites around his home town of Sydney, Australia. In addition to maintenance and commissioning of control systems, Dave soon realised that there was a good living to be made in repairing actuated isolation and control valves. “Most of the ‘bronzed prima donna’ instrument guys didn’t want to get dirty at the business end of a control loop,” recalls Dave. Remembering the idiom, ‘where there’s muck there’s money’, Dave decided to concentrate on valve repair, sales and maintenance. The business flourished and grew through a number of workshops, always concentrating on the main objective of staying customer focused.
Then, one day in 1996 the phone rang at Optimum Control, and life as they knew it was about to change.
A MOGAS ‘Super Rep’ from Western Australia had heard good things about Optimum Control and was interested in recruiting them as a MOGAS representative. “We were not all that excited about the prospect of repairing ball valves, no matter how severe, and even less enthusiastic about selling them into the power and refining industries,” said Dave. “We were ‘control valve men’ who occasionally worked on ball valves as long as they were actuated and had lots of controls hanging off them.”
But Optimum Control persisted and visited power plants on the eastern side of Australia, selling a few valves, but also learning a lot about metallurgy and spray coating technology. Soon after a visit from Tommy Bright—then MOGAS VP of Service and one of the original four founders of MOGAS—Optimum Control became the only certified MOGAS repair shop outside of Houston. Their territory expanded and soon were responsible for the sales and service of MOGAS products in what was tastefully termed the ‘Pacific Rim’.
Birth of the autoclave industry
Around 1998 a new industry developed in Australia where precious metals were extracted from ores using a process called Pressure Acid Leaching (PAL) and a similar process called Pressure Oxidation (POx). This was the ultimate severe service application. It included acidic erosive slurry flows, high temperature, high pressure… and frequent valve rotation. The valves were made from titanium and super duplex stainless steel, and were all in the 6- to 10-inch range. This was an industry that looked very valve dependent, and certainly caught the attention of MOGAS and Optimum Control. So, in 1999 Louis Mogas moved territory manager Kevin Engel (now VP Service) and his family to live in Sydney for the next two years. Dave and Kevin travelled the length and breadth of Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, New Caledonia and anywhere else chasing MOGAS business. All this time Kevin was training the Optimum Control workshop guys in the ‘MOGAS Way’. This was the beginning of the autoclave industry at MOGAS and it has been an intragral part of their landscape ever since. MOGAS established a manufacturing facility in Perth to supply parts for local autoclave plants, and Optimum Control continued to sell and service MOGAS valves at an ever increasing rate.
Like MOGAS, Optimum Control has always had a history of dedicated employees. Amongst the 12 present staff many have at least five years of service and many have been with the company for a lot longer:
22 Years – Howard Cooper (retired)
23 Years – Kevin Winn (sales and service)
20 Years – Wayne McLennan (specialist welder)
18 Years – Vatche Krikorian (project engineer)
17 Years – Loren Kelly (Office Admin)
16 Years – Jake Cameron (workshop supervisor)
12 Years – Brian Wood (sales/marketing manager)
When asked what was the secret to the successful relationship with MOGAS, Dave Hamilton replied: “At Optimum Control we adopted the Louis Mogas philosophy of ‘Run to a Problem’ right from the start. We have always confronted business problems ‘head on’ whether technical or commercial. And, customers are always thankful for this approach. It is the nature of our business that we will have technical issues from time to time, but it’s in the way that we—and the customer—recover from these problems that sets MOGAS and Optimum Control apart from our competitors. We have had a long and fruitful relationship with MOGAS because of the shared company values of honesty and integrity. Optimum Control is living proof that there is only one team at MOGAS, and we are certainly glad that we are on it!”