FRANKLIN, La.—A three-year old joint venture focused on supplying complete elastomeric subsea high-temperature thermal insulation systems is planning to build a new factory to enable it to supply a major upcoming project.
MTE Engineered Materials L.L.C. is a joint venture between the owners of Franklin-based Mark Tool & Rubber Co. Inc. and Elite Elastomers Inc., located in Ripley, Miss. It was formed in 2016 to conduct research, development and end-use application for the thermal insulation systems, which can install the rubber insulation on pipes used in oil drilling operations in any of the three main methods: S-Lay (horizontal), J-Lay (vertical) and Reel-Lay, according to the company.
The name MTE represents the combined strengths of both Mark Tool and Elite Elastomers, said Jerome Hebert, who is chief operating officer of Mark Tool and managing director of the joint venture. The JV builds on Elite Elastomers' rubber material research and development innovations and Mark Tool's application and manufacturing technology.
Mark Tool and Elite had worked together for about 15 years, with Elite serving as the sole material supplier for Mark Tool's rubber compounds, Hebert said. Mark Tool is a maker of custom rubber products and extruder of elastomer materials mainly used in pipe coatings. "We just had a really good relationship with Elite," he said. "Any new products we need developed we go to them and they develop the products for us."
And that's basically how the MTE Engineered Materials joint venture began. The two firms had worked on a big project for one of the major oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico, Hebert said, declining to name the customer. That was in 2015, and out of that came another project with the same oil company, this one of bigger size and for larger volume. But the companies needed to bring down costs to compete with other products on the market.
Hebert said he and Elite Elastomers President Steve Glidewell decided to form the joint venture to combine their strengths from the material development standpoint to the application of the material onto the pipe.
Glidewell said putting the two groups together created the complete package the customer needed. "We basically worked together on the first phase of the project and it just seemed natural, and it actually helped the customer being able to work through one company that way," he said.
MTE currently operates out of the Mark Tool facility in Franklin, with only the management team listed as staff. Besides Hebert, his wife, Shree Hebert, serves as financial manager; Glidewell is technical director; his wife, Ginger Glidewell, is technical adviser; and Sarah Lehman is director of business development.