Houston, Texas-based industrial PVF distributor MRC Global presented the PVF Roundtable Scholarship Fund with a check for $15,000 during the industry networking group’s spring meeting at the Bell Tower on 34th Street in Houston.

The $15,000 will be earmarked specifically toward the Roundtable’s Texas A&M Industrial Distribution scholarship endowment for immediate distribution to recipients.

“Our industry is constantly looking for young, talented people,” MRC Global Senior Vice President of Business Development Robert Stein told Supply House Times during the May meeting. “Texas A&M’s Industrial Distribution program develops specific skills that are needed by our company and our industry. We want to support the efforts of young people developing this knowledge and capability and help them move to the next level.”

Stein noted MRC Global is being proactive when it comes to attracting the next generation of talent to its company. “All of us in the industry see two things,” he explained, “a recovery oil-and-gas market and a shortage of talented young professionals.”

MRC Global Vice President of Business Development Mike Chamberlain, who holds a bachelor’s of science degree in industrial distribution from Texas A&M, added: “In the 1990s everybody was growing together in the industry. A lot of younger people at that time matured together and now are senior leaders within their company. We’re working hard now to mentor additional young professionals in our industry. Groups such as the PVF Roundtable and its scholarship program are an avenue to help us achieve that goal.”

Stein said MRC Global has been supporting the PVF Roundtable dating back to the group’s founding and that branching out into the scholarship realm is the next iteration in the longstanding partnership.

“The PVF Roundtable supports our industry and the networking opportunities it has promotes growth,” he said. “Their Young Professionals group is a key example. We support the PVF Roundtable and its scholarship program. It’s good for the industry. I’m impressed with how diversified the group has become and how large it is now. The number of suppliers and end users tied specifically to the industry in the group has grown well beyond what it once was.”

As far as the industry’s health, Stein pointed out MRC Global’s recent earnings conference call revealed good news. “We are performing better than expected,” he said. “We are expecting a good year in 2018. Our customers see optimism whether it’s downstream, upstream or midstream associated with their maintenance projects, turnarounds as well as capital projects. From where we are, we don’t see any customers talking about any significant variances in the near future.”

As for the PVF Roundtable itself, President Joe Pro (Penn Machine) reported 370 golfers and 50 volunteers participated in the annual Don Caffee Memorial Golf Tournament that raises money for the PVF Roundtable Scholarship Fund. Pro said about $70,000 was raised through the golf tournament for the fund. He also noted this was the first year a third golf course had to be added to accommodate the massive turnout. In addition to Sweetwater Country Club, Sugar Creek Country Club also was utilized.

“It was so amazing to see,” Pro said. “The energy and enthusiasm levels were great. Every hole had a sponsor tent. We got nothing but rave reviews. For us, it’s amazing to see the level of participation across so many different portions of the PVF market. I can’t say enough about the organization efforts of (board members) Bob (Ta Chen’s Hunter) and Sara (Newmans Valve’s Alford) and our golf committee.”

With it being the 10th anniversary of the tournament, founders Owen Doss and Tom Pettit were honored at a breakfast before the golf event.

“One of the important things is to never forget the legacy,” Pro said. “Where we are at today is because of all the people who have supported this organization and who in the beginning scraped and clawed to keep this thing alive. Look at how many young people and women are in the group now and how far we have come. I can remember a meeting when people almost got into a fist fight over how we were going to spend $12,500 in scholarship money. This year our contribution is going to be $250,000.”

Pro said the organization is in the process of looking into potentially expanding the scholarship program to other schools outside the Houston area and in other PVF-industry-heavy states with Louisiana being first on the radar.  By the end of 2018, the scholarship fund will have raised a cumulative total of $775,000 for the PVF industry and the goal, Pro noted, is to reach $1 million by 2020.

The spring meeting attracted 600 registered guests. The Roundtable returns to the Bell Tower for its summer meeting Aug. 21 ahead of the highly anticipated fall dinner meeting Oct. 16 at the Norris Conference Center in Houston.