Oklahoma's LSB Industries tops rankings, but leaders don't seek limelight

This year's top-rated Oklahoma Inc. company survived some tough times. The founder now says “these are the best of times.”
BY DON MECOY dmecoy@opubco.com Published: November 13, 2011

LSB's climate control operation, originally a small part of the business, has become the other major unit of the company.

“We reinvented ourselves,” Barry Golsen said. The remade business has been “stable and growing.”

The overhaul took determination, a strong and stable core of managers and patience. “It took a lot of time,” Jack Golsen said.

The company's geothermal heat pump offerings now are among the industry's best, the Golsens said.

The system that controls the comfort of Oklahoma's Capitol was produced by LSB, and cut the state's energy costs there by about $250,000 a year. LSB's products heat and cool structures from single-family homes to major office buildings to the Statue of Liberty.

Over the past decade, the company's leaders have sharpened the firm's focus by growing its two main units and strengthened the balance sheet.

“We've positioned ourselves to be able to weather any storm in the economy and positioned ourselves also to make any kind of capital improvements that are necessary to grow the businesses, and we're in the position to do a strategic acquisition if the right kind of acquisition comes along,” Barry Golsen said.

The Oklahoma City company has succeeded by following a traditional model of making tangible things and selling them, but its leaders aren't hidebound.

“If you look at our plants, they are really state-of-the-art,” Barry Golsen said. “We're old-fashioned in the sense that we make stuff, but we're not old-fashioned in the way that we make it.”



At a glance

LSB's Oklahoma connections

• Founded in Oklahoma with corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City.

• Seven climate control manufacturing and distribution facilities. Covering more than 1 million square feet in Oklahoma City.

• Industrial Products Distribution facility in Oklahoma City.

• Pryor Chemical Co. in Pryor.

• About 1,900 of LSB's 2,200 total employees work in Oklahoma.

Where did the name LSB

come from?

One of Jack Golsen's earliest companies, L&S Bearing Manufacturing Co., made products for the Big Three automakers and the retail auto markets. Each box of the firm's bearings, many of which were displayed on the shelves of auto supply stores, bore the company's initials — LSB. Three-letter company names (such as ITT and LTV) were in vogue, and Golsen determined that company would be called “LSB.” The company no longer makes bearings, although LSB's headquarters remain in the same building alongside Interstate 40 west of downtown Oklahoma City.

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