With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s always a goodtime to take a step back and think about what you’re thankful for.

It goes without saying family, health and happiness are likely frontrunners on all our lists.

In the case of our industry, there’s plenty to be thankful for as well. For starters, we should be the thankful for all the high-quality distributors, manufacturers and reps that make the PHCP-PVF business what it is. How many good people do you know in our industry? Too many to count.

We also should be thankful for all the behind-the-scenes folks who make vital contributions to the successes of the PHCP-PVF companies they work for whether it’s someone making a product at a manufacturing plant, working inside sales at a rep firm or the fella driving a delivery truck packed with products from a regional distribution center. These are the people who help make it possible for our industry to be what it is today.

I know I’m thankful for the interesting stories about folks in this industry that constantly cross my desk, or should I say, in current-day parlance, inbox.

Carlyn Mattox I know for a fact can be put into the thankful category. He’s thankful for the successful and debt-free industrial PVF master distribution business he runs with his two brothers in Tulsa, Okla.

Yes, I said debt-free.

“I’ve been debt-free for quite a while — business and personal,” says Mattox, president of Mattsco Supply Co.  “We grew up always hearing live within your means. It kind of stuck with us. There are a lot of things I want, but until I have the money I don’t need them. Companies are in this to be competitive and successful and not run into too much debt. Unfortunately, some companies go bankrupt because they leveraged everything out as far as they could and couldn’t weather the storm.”

Mattox’s dad, the late John H. Mattox, started Mattsco in 1975 after a health scare two years prior led him to make a big life change. “They told him in the emergency room if it was another 10 or 15 minutes he might not have made it,” Mattox says. “He always wanted to have his own business and had worked for two supply companies in Tulsa. He figured if there ever was time to start his own business, it was then.”

Mattox started working for his dad’s company in high school when the staff roster totaled five. Today Mattox and his brothers, Bob (vice president) and Kyle (secretary), run the same one-branch shop that now has 40 employees. The company is celebrating 40 years in business in 2015. “Forty years represents a generation,” says Mattox, who notes the company held a celebration day earlier this fall that attracted some 300 customers and vendors, including one representative from a pipe mill in Korea.

While some sectors of the industrial PVF industry are going through some lean times right now, Mattsco Supply is trending the other way.

“In our area, power, refining operations and pipeline work still are doing pretty well,” Mattox says. “The pipeline industry, in particular, has been very strong. In the next couple years there will be a lot of pipeline work to be done. The oil and gas industry has slowed down and put pressure on steel production and pricing, which has pushed pricing down. We have a pretty balanced inventory that moves pretty consistently. We’re not too concerned. When you are out of debt, it’s not an issue. We are small enough that the downturn won’t affect us like a company needing to sell $1 billion a year. Those are the people who are suffering.”

Mattox says being a U.S.-authorized U.S. Steel seamless ERW line pipe distributor has helped over the years (the company also stocks domestic and import manufacturers of flanges, fittings and valves). “There’s not many of us around,” he says. “We try and push domestic materials as much as possible.”

Like many success stories in this business, Mattox points to the behind-the-scenes people I mentioned as the ones driving Mattsco’s success. “What makes the difference is our people understand exactly what our customers want, how they want it and when they want it,” he says. “Our people put their heads together to try and get things done in a competitive way where everybody wins. If you have the right products and the right service, you will have a business. There always will be room in this industry for companies that provide service and treat people right.”

And Mattox and Mattsco Supply are living proof of that.