Tulsa's Ameristar Fence Beating The Economy Odds

Friday, July 10th 2009, 12:26 am
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Despite a slumping economy, a Tulsa company is beating the odds. Ameristar Fence Products continues to expand.

They've fenced everything from Monte Cassino school - to the Statue of Liberty. Ameristar manufactures metal fence panels in a new $38 million robotic welding factory.

The steel panels go through a proprietary cleaning and coating process that allows the company to guarantee against rust for 20 years. The combination of technology - applied to a product that's in demand - has helped keep Ameristar competitive, despite a downturn for most other manufacturers.

"That product allows us to compete with the imports, the cheap imports," said Barry Willingham, Ameristar Vice President.

While the company manufactures decorative fencing for home use - Ameristar says the growth is in high security, for military and industrial customers.

"So this way you can put up a decorative element and has high performance that the military and other high risk locations have used successfully," Willingham said.

The fence can stop a speeding truck - which is why the military uses it. Ameristar has won government contracts all over the world - and at home, like the Tulsa Airport.

 "We know this is a strong company, we like being here," said Roger Clark, Ameristar employee.

Shipping supervisor Roger Clark says the assurance that their jobs are secure helps everyone turn out a better product.

"We're constantly looking at the process, trying to refine, take out all the waste, all the variances in our process so our efficiencies always rise," Clark said.

Ameristar has 500 employees, and is hiring more. It's opened nine new distribution sites this year. The company says it did that without debt, by saving up during good years. Now the company can expand while others are closing up.

"We're not going backwards, we're going forward," said Barry Willingham, Ameristar Vice President.

Ameristar doesn't expect sales to increase this year - for the first time in the company's 27 years - but they figure efficiency and innovation works, no matter what happens in the economy.