O'Neal sees encouraging signs after discouraging year

In their 35 years of experience, the board governing O’Neal Inc., a Greenville-based integrated design and construction firm, couldn’t recall when their industry went from “feast to famine.”

Then came 2009 and with it, some of the toughest challenges yet for many construction and engineering firms, including O’Neal.

The employee-owned company was recently awarded the contract to construct FitesaFiberweb’s plant expansion in Simpsonville.

FitesaFiberweb Simpsonville Inc. is a joint venture between Fiberweb PLC, a manufacturer of specialty nonwoven materials, and Petropar, a Brazilian industrial company.

Jeffrey Hall, O’Neal’s vice president of business development, said the company specializes in delivering capital projects worldwide in a variety of industries, including automotive, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals/biotech, process chemical, energy, pulp and paper.

“Over the years, if an industry or two was down, other industries would either be up or maintaining, whereas this past year it came to a screeching halt across the board,” he said. “Just about every industry was impacted so it had an impact on us.”

Kevin Bean, O’Neal’s president and chief executive officer, said leading up to 2009, “everyone knew there was going to be a recession and we put contingency plans together.

“What was most difficult was the timing and how quick it actually affected our industry,” he said. “It just stopped.”

O’Neal is being pulled forward today with positive momentum and one of the strongest backlogs the company has ever had.

“We’ve had a string of recent project wins and we are very encouraged by the number of prospects we’re seeing,” Bean said.

The employee-owned company was recently awarded the contract to construct FitesaFiberweb’s plant expansion in Simpsonville.

FitesaFiberweb Simpsonville Inc. is a joint venture between Fiberweb PLC, a manufacturer of specialty nonwoven materials, and Petropar, a Brazilian industrial company.

The joint venture’s nonwoven fabric will be used mostly in disposable diapers.

The company was also chosen to construct a new biorefinery demonstration facility in Georgia — a partnership between Diamond Alternative Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Valero Energy Corp., and American Process Inc.

Bean said most of the company’s work this year has come from repeat business or existing clients.   Read Full Story at greenvilleonline.com

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