From last year’s Oklahoma Inc. to this year, the state’s three manufacturing companies that are traded on major markets swung widely in the ratings, and only one moved up on the chart.
Orchids Paper Products Co. — 36 years old and stock symbol “TIS” on the New York Stock Exchange — shot to No. 3 from No. 28. The Pryor-based manufacturer makes toilet paper, towels and napkins, which are sold largely regionally.
Conversely, Tulsa-based AAON Inc. — 25 years old and AAON on the Nasdaq Global Select Market — which makes industrial and commercial air conditioning and heating equipment primarily for the U.S. and Canada, fell 10 spaces to No. 25. And Oklahoma City-based LSB Industries — No. 44, and LXU on the NYSE — which produces climate control devices and chemicals for mining and agriculture, for clients in Canada, the Middle East, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, and South and East Asia, plummeted from No. 1 to No. 32 on the 36-company list.
The three manufacturers’ gains in earnings per share ranged from 114 percent to 12.2 percent to 1.5 percent, respectively. But LSB, after repairing a damaged chemical plant in Arkansas, recently set 52-week highs in its shares.
Three other Oklahoma manufacturing companies that are ranked on the over-the-counter list had the same mixed bag on Oklahoma Inc.
Though Tulsa-based recyclable plastic pallet manufacturer Greystone Logistics posted a gain in earnings per share of 333.3 percent, 9-year-old Totally Green Inc. of Tulsa — which makes organic food processing systems and compostable packaging alternatives for convention centers, corporations, government agencies, hospitals and universities — was flat. Meanwhile, Webco Industries Inc. — a 43-year-old Sand Springs company that makes carbon steel, stainless steel and other metal tubular products for various industries — posted an 18.5 percent drop in share price.
Despite the mishmash ratings, industry observers say the state’s manufacturing sector is showing signs of recovery.
Employment in the sector hasn’t returned to the highs of the early ’90s, but it’s back to pre-recession levels, said Chuck Prucha, president of the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance.
State manufacturers, Prucha said, have learned to work leaner and smarter, using robotics, numeric-controlled equipment and other technologies. Moreover, many manufacturers, who may have moved production to China and elsewhere overseas, have brought back production because, among other things, a significant difference in product quality and the high cost of fuel.
“Just the costs of transportation to and from can add more costs than expected,” said Prucha, who for 25 years owned an Oklahoma machinery manufacturing company that moved production to Mexico and back.
As of August, the manufacturing sector accounted for 8.6 percent of the state’s employment, with about 137,400 employees, said Lynn Gray, an economist with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
“Manufacturing is an industry that is a significant driver in our jobs recovery,” Gray said. Since the recession low in January 2010, the sector has added 20.4 percent of the new jobs, or 16,300 of 79,900.
During the past 12 months alone, Oklahoma’s manufacturing industry has gained 7,700 jobs or 5.9 percent, compared with a 2.9 percent jobs gain for the state as a whole, Gray said.