60 Alaska Business Monthly | May 2015 www.akbizmag.com
Alaska’s multibillion-dollar oil and gas industry involves much more than just the massive drilling rigs or pipelines so often pictured.
Those familiar symbols of natural resource development are propped up by a
wide array of support services, from fuel
transport to diving and salvage to metal
fabrication and welding. The companies
that provide those services brave everything from subzero temperatures and
long, dark days on the North Slope to
Cook Inlet’s strong tides and black water.
Support services make up a diverse
sector of Alaska’s oil and gas economy.
There are large corporations and small,
family owned businesses with deep ties
to the industry.
On the Kenai Peninsula, Metal Magic
has been providing quality fabricating
and welding work for oilfield projects
for nearly thirty years. The company’s
worked with everything from HVAC
ducting, heat exchangers, helicons, and
fan shrouds to stainless flare nozzles
and tanks, pipe coils, winch guards,
walkways skids, and wind walls. There
have been fuel tanks and structural columns and concrete forms.
Owner and founder Scott Hamann
took the business from a one-man shop
to a multimillion-dollar company, and
he says it all comes down to relationships and getting the job done right.
“I’m a little bit of a niche business,” Ha-
mann says. “I believe in equipment, and
I have equipment that nobody else has.”
Hamann’s Kenai shop is home to a
300-ton press break, a 100-ton iron
worker, and a 350-ton punch press—
among various other metalworking
machinery. There are angle rolls and
plate rolls, pipe copers, mag drills, nib-
blers, and a mandrel bender.
A 200 amp plasma CNC cutting machine, added to Metal Magic’s arsenal
just last year, allows the shop to cut 2. 5
inch steel. It’s one of the most sophisticated setups in the state, Hamann says.
The variety of equipment gives Metal
Magic the ability to perform an array of
jobs serving Alaska’s oil and gas industry. In early March, his shop was working on a boom-stick for an excavator
working for an oilfield service company
and modifying a trailer for Hilcorp,
among other projects. The company
can bend and manipulate metal in ways
few other Alaska shops can.
“I have a real reputation in the industry for doing, sometimes, the impossible,” Hamann says.
Metal Magic is a small company—
employing anywhere from eight to
around fourteen people—but the shop’s
owner says that’s one of its biggest
strengths. Hamann says the small size
gives him the ability to keep a close eye
on the quality of the work his company
performs. Combined with the shop’s
diversity of equipment, the small size
gives the business a valuable level of
“That’s really the thing with us that
we do differently than everyone else,”
Hamann says. “It’s small enough that we
can react pretty fast to people’s needs.”
A lot has changed in the industry since
Hamann first opened up shop nearly
thirty years ago. He says he still remem-
bers every stage of the operation—be-
ginning with work on his uncle’s boat.
These days, Metal Magic fabricates
parts and pieces for some of the state’s
most prominent oil and gas companies
and can bring in $3 million on a good
year, Hamann says. They’ve made skis
for North Slope exploration companies
and done cutwork for drilling programs in the area and seen “a massive
need” for tanks alongside a recent uptick in drilling.
But working for Alaska’s oil and gas
industry brings its own set of bumps in
“The biggest challenge that all of us
face is the constant up and down in the
industry,” Hamann says.
The boom and bust cycle can make
it difficult to find—and keep—good
employees. He considers himself lucky:
Two of the shop’s employees have
worked there for twenty years and another one has been there for about fifteen years. Hamann says he rides out
the ups and downs by doing a variety
of work outside the oil and gas industry.
Over the years, he says, he’s grown
his business through strong networks
and one basic principle.
“It don’t leave here unless it’s perfect,
that’s just the way I look at it,” he says.
The shop also has the ability to cast everything from aluminum to iron: a valuable service for oilfields built with aging
and occasionally obsolete parts. If a part
breaks and an operator finds it difficult
to replace, operators have the ability to
make a new piece from scratch. In the
past, Hamann says, his metalworking
business has recast new parts for old infrastructure, helping facilitate the flow
of Alaska’s oil and gas industry.
Across the state, the services that support oil and gas development fuel an
important part of the state’s economy.
By Kirsten Swann
“The biggest challenge that all
of us face is the constant up
and down in the industry.”
Owner and Founder, Metal Magic