Monday, October 25, 2010

Dramatic mine rescue shines spotlight on two PA firms

The worldwide news focus on the dramatic drilling effort that freed trapped Chilean miners also "gave two small Pennsylvania drilling-equipment companies a priceless opportunity to display their products on a global stage, " reports the Wall Street Journal.

"The drilling rig that blasted though more than 2,000 feet of rock was made by Schramm Inc. of West Chester, Pa., near Philadelphia, and the drilling bits came from Center Rock Inc. of Berlin, Pa., 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

"We just happened to have the right rig in the right place at the right time," said Frank Gabriel, vice president of sales for Schramm. He said it was too early to say how the event might affect the company's sales but added: "Certainly, the phones have been ringing because of this." 


Center Rock President Brandon Fisher, left, with a colleague
at the mine. (Associated Press Photograph)
Both companies stressed the humanitarian aspect of the work. However, Brandon Fisher, founder and president of Center Rock, agreed that the publicity could help sales. He called the use of Center Rock's bit "an opportunity of a lifetime," adding, "You're either a hero or zero at the end."

Mr. Fisher, whose company also helped rescue coal miners trapped 240 feet below ground for three days in 2002 at the Quecreek mine in southwestern Pennsylvania, said he has urged federal and state regulators to help him assemble a team of drilling experts and equipment to be ready for rescues.

"They all loved the concept but no one would step up and fund it," he said. Now Mr. Fisher plans to resume that effort. "We can maybe use this momentum to our advantage and get something rolling here," he said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said the agency is working with the mining industry and related parties to improve readiness for emergencies. The agency has developed a mapping tool to help locate equipment needed for rescues, she said.

Read the full Wall Street Journal story
: U.S. Drilling Companies Get Moment in Spotlight

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