Houston-based Audubon Engineering is opening a field office in a 3,000-square-foot building in Steubenville, potentially creating up to 20 jobs.
Rick Caldwell, vice president of Audubon's Appalachian Region, said they will start moving in Sunday.
''It all depends how fast work comes in from our customers,'' Caldwell said. ''I would say, certainly, within six to eight months we should have 10 or 12 people there. But this time next year, we should be fully staffed.''
Audubon provides field engineering support, mapping and field instrumentation support and construction management for gas pipeline and compressor station installations.
''It's a demand-driven business, but the demand seems to be there,'' said Caldwell, who grew up in the Wheeling area. ''That's why we're comfortable opening the field office.''
Caldwell said location was key in siting the field office at 141 Brady Cricle West. He said a Steubenville operations base gives them easy access to drilling operations in both the Utica and Marcellus shale plays in southeastern Ohio, northern West Virginia and western Pennsylvania, as well as to their design center in Charleston, enhancing response times.
''That's the beauty of having a regional design center in Charleston,'' he said. ''If we're out on a job and decide something has to be changed, or if the customer changes his mind, we can make sketches, send them to the design center in Charleston where we have trained technicians'' who will process the information and quickly return the updated plans to the customer.
''That's what customers in the gas industry want,'' he added. ''Everything is time driven. As a long-term proposition, it makes more sense for us to have boots on the ground there. The customers win because they get what they need quicker, we have the resources available to immediately take care of their needs.''
Caldwell said the Steubenville location also gives the company access to workers with the engineering background they need - particularly, field experience in the installation of gas pipeline and compressor stations and experienced designers. He said they'll work with vocational-technical schools in the area to identify potential candidates as well.
''We've already done our due diligence, that's how we know (qualified workers) are available in the Steubenville area, that there are people available to come to work for us - some of them may currently be unemployed, some may be underemployed, some may already work for competitors.''
Audubon also has offices in Houston and Denver in the United States, and overseas in Nigeria, Malaysia and Columbia. Caldwell said they'll also be opening field offices in Barberton, Ohio, as well as Canonsburg and Williamsport, Pa., this year.