Perryman is in its element tackling new titanium projects

Rick Shrum

The president and CEO of Perryman Co. acknowledges that navigating the pandemic has been harrowing on occasion.

“Since we’re part of the critical infrastructure, we’ve continued to manufacture during the pandemic,” Frank Perryman Jr. said recently. “There has never been a day that we’ve shut down. But at times, it has been a struggle.

“It has affected our business, reduced us by 30%. But despite the struggles, we’ve made it through. Strong companies do survive.”

He says, proudly, that by adhering to the firm’s motto – “Control what you can, adapt to the rest” – the Houston-based titanium manufacturer continues to persevere.

Actually, Perryman Co. appears to be doing better than that.

Two weeks ago, shortly after announcing it will install an open die forge press at its Coal Center melt campus in California Technology Park, the company said it will further ramp up operations. Perryman will add furnaces at the same location that are expected to increase titanium melting capacity by more than 60%.

Construction on the projects is expected to commence this summer. The forging operation is scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of 2024, and the furnaces that summer.

“Both of these expansions are very large investments in local communities, and they will lead to more jobs in future years,” said Perryman, who estimated the cost of the twin endeavors as “about $200 million.”

These are complementary, and significant, moves by Perryman Co., which, according to its leader, is the fifth-largest melter of titanium products worldwide. The company, he said, is anticipating heavy demand for future products. “We’re looking at markets recovering to pre-pandemic levels, so we’re preparing in advance.”

Titanium is an abundant chemical element sought by customers in numerous markets. Perryman supplies and services a lion’s share of clients in the aerospace, medical and military industries, but also contracts with other users.

These projects, according to corporate news releases, will entail installation of “a highly automated 4,500-ton open die forge press and finishing facility” and additional Electron Beam and Vacuum Arc Remelt furnaces.

The forge press will expand Perryman’s in-house capabilities, as well as its product offerings. The new furnaces are projected to expand titanium melting capacity from 26 million pounds to 42 million – a 62% jump.

A lot has happened since Frank’s parents, Jim Perryman Sr. and his wife, Rose, launched this company in 1988. Jim Sr.’s interest in titanium began after college, when he served as an Army helicopter pilot during the Korean War. That led to a job in titanium in 1953, an industry where he worked for various companies for 35 years.

That’s when this father of seven started the family business, which is now being run by his sons, Frank and Jim Jr., the chief operating officer.

“My father’s reputation in the mining industry was the gold standard,” Frank said. “Then we started Perryman on our own.”

In three-plus decades, their company has become a gold standard as well. Frank said that Perryman is the only pure plate titanium manufacturer in the world that is privately held.

He and Jim Jr. assumed the helm following the death of their 90-year-old father in September 2020. The family has nurtured the company into one that now includes four campuses, all in Washington County, and operates offices in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, London, Zurich, Tokyo and Xi’an. Headquarters always has been in Houston.

Perryman Co.’s payroll is expanding as well, following cutbacks and departures during the pandemic. Frank said the company had more than 600 employees before COVID-19 hit, a figure that eventually dropped below 500. It has rebounded to about 540.

The firm’s president is optimistic about what is ahead, for his business and the region where he was raised.

“All of our manufacturing is in Western Pennsylvania, and we provide product that goes all over the world,” Frank said. “That is really a testament to what this region can do – to have a footprint here for products that can go around the world.

“The real message is if you are from Western Pennsylvania, you realize we can compete globally.”