DIS-TRAN Steel builds strong client relationships with its dedicated staff and continuous improvement.
By Staci Davidson, Knighthouse Media
DIS-TRAN Steel, a wholly owned subsidiary of Crest Industries, LLC, has been family owned and operated since it was founded in 1965 and believes it will remain this way as long as it is in business. This speaks in part to the company’s internal, family-like culture, as well as to DIS-TRAN’s sense of service and dedication to its customers. By keeping clients’ best interests in mind and meeting agreements that it promised, DIS-TRAN Steel continues to be a provider of choice for electric utilities, users of electrical power and general industry.
“We provide on-time delivery, superior quality and responsiveness,” explains Clayton Eagles, vice president of pole operations. “We got our foot in the door in tons of places because someone else messed up – maybe their price was great up front but the supplier didn’t follow through. Customers realize they are willing to pay a little extra to know we will uphold the commitments we agreed on. Once you show someone you can do that once, they usually turn into repeat customers. We want customers that value what we have to offer and grow them into top-tier customers.”
Based in Pineville, La., DIS-TRAN Steel provides transmission and substation steel structures.
“We have a reputation for being a company that does what it says we are going to do,” Vice President of Operations Jarrod Gemar says. “We provide quality, on-time delivery, honesty and integrity, and that has been our niche for over 50 years. We may not be the low-cost provider, but we are a quality, on-time delivery company that is known for our high levels of service.”
What remains consistent across each product family is the ongoing commitment to quality, a focus on customers’ needs and ensuring the solutions it delivers last the test of time. Eagles uses DIS-TRAN Steel’s Pole Product Family processes as an example of how the divisions demonstrate these values.
“We design, detail and fabricate steel poles,” Eagles says. “It all starts with our designers – we have a team of highly experienced designers because tapered, tubular poles need to be highly engineered. Every pole is almost completely custom designed to meet clients’ needs. We start with design and do it all in-house. We do all of our material procurement and processing, cut the sheets and bend them into the poles because we have fabricators, fitters and welders in-house. Raw material comes in and finished pole products go out. Our sister operation is a galvanizer, so we can ensure the poles will stand in the elements for 40-plus years.”
At the same time, every part of DIS-TRAN Steel is focused on continuous improvement. Eagles explains a key focus right now is preventative maintenance, and DIS-TRAN has implemented routine and strict preventative maintenance schedules on all of its machines in an effort to eliminate unscheduled downtime. The company also is investing in training and operation standardizations across the shop floor to further establish best practices. Additionally, capital investments in safety are ongoing for DIS-TRAN.
“We’d always done training on operational procedures, but in the last couple of years, we took a different approach,” he says. “We want everyone to have training on how we run the business and how we make decisions based on how it will impact our ROI. We take high performers who are working on the shop floor and put them in other parts of the business. It’s not just to give them more experience with the business – more times than not they come back to where they’ve started and have learned all these other aspects that lead them to make better decisions on the floor. Giving more transparency into what we do has really helped the entire operation.”
Gemar explains this keeps DIS-TRAN Steel agile in responding to customers’ needs. The company never is afraid to change if it will help customers succeed. “There is a lot of ownership across our culture,” he says. “From top to bottom, our employees really own what they do and are engaged in making us better and continually improving. We are in the steel industry, but we’re in the people business. By doing what’s right for our people with a safe and quality culture, we can meet the needs of our customers.”
Eagles agrees, and notes the culture helps to set DIS-TRAN Steel apart, in addition to the fact that its capabilities surpass others in the industry. “Everybody here is focused on being safe, efficient and has an ROI mentality,” he says. “Everyone makes decisions from that viewpoint, so we are very cost-conscious and front-line driven. We have very strong leadership that feels the same way, and we call it the ‘founder’s mentality.’ You run your part of the business like you own it.”