While much has lately been written about the PVF Roundtable, with the recognized PVF Hall of Fame providing its latest addition to this proud combination of manufacturers, distributors, end users, contractors, and specifiers, etc., the amazing 30 year growth of this acknowledged networking focus is truly legendary.
Founded in 1986 by beloved, long-time industry veteran, Sid Westbrook, co-founder of Westbrook Manufacturing Company, to provide focused identity to the often overlooked pipe-valve-fittings sector, it has since become the organizational apex of those associated with this multi-billion dollar, energy-oriented industry segment.
With Sid Westbrook’s farsighted vision and drive to personalize this concept through educational sessions in Houston, Westbrook’s home base, as well as Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago, Westbrook soon realized that a central location in Houston, the world’s acknowledged energy capital, would give this small, original focus the attention necessary for growth. With such success in mind, Sid generously provided the startup financial and executive leadership to get regular educational group sessions off the ground.
Although the idea of a distinct pipe-valve-fittings educational center received Westbrook's full attention, the addition of industry veteran, Don Caffee, who specialized in industry personnel placement, gave it a strong push forward by the end of the Roundtable’s first decade.
Caffee subsequently interested his former Lunkenheimer Valve boss Morris Beschloss, who had become an industry advisor and publicist, along with Gary Cartright, head of Piping & Equipment, and Sheryl Michalak who, along with her father, had founded Welding Outlets, Inc. in the late 1990's. Working together, they spread the word of this new PVF sector centrum and began to hold monthly informational sessions at Houston's Hess Club.
But with the untimely death of Don Caffee, the astute Sheryl and Piping & Equipment's Gary Cartright persuaded Beschloss to become actively involved in spreading the word throughout the industry here and abroad through his many contacts.
In fact, Sheryl, the only PVF Hall of Fame female manufacturing CEO in this growing industry, provided most of the personnel power, as well as much of her time to move the Roundtable's identity forward. This, in turn, attracted other significant industry executives to lend time, effort, and energy to make up a governing board of directors.
With founding father, Sid Westbrook's health preventing his previously intense involvement, Fluor executive, Ron Merrick, was named President, and was subsequently succeeded by Sid's son, Danny Westbrook.
But with the growing impact of the global industry's stupendous energy development of the past decade, despite the most recent "glut" setbacks, the past five years have witnessed a "Roundtable recognition" rarely duplicated by other aspects of America's diverse manufacturing sectors.
From an average monthly attendance of 60 a short 10 years ago at the Hess Club, the Roundtable has grown to four massive quarterly meetings attended by an average of 500. By networking and attracting such outstanding speakers as Jack Gerard, head of the American Petroleum Institute, John Hofmeister, former CEO of Shell Oil, and now head of Citizens for Energy, in addition to industry titan Don McNeeley, these quarter annual meetings have become the gathering place for industry activists at all levels, both from the U.S. and abroad. Not to be forgotten should be Professor Michael Economides, a published international energy economy expert, the ultimate Stanford Phd, who appeared before the assembled “Roundtable” membership several times.
In addition to awarding substantial scholarships to worthy students heading for such universities as Texas A&M, which provide industry-related programs, an annual "Don Caffee" golf outing and a "fishing soiree" in October on the part of those interested, have become regular supplemental activities.
A board of directors comprised of industry leaders, together with a new President, Joe Pro, CEO of Pennsylvania Machinery, elected by the Board, are now well organized to take this legendary organization to ever greater industry heights, keeping pace with the ever expanding global energy industry's growth.