After being named the fastest-growing manufacturer in the U.S. last year, West Tulsa–based Big Elk Energy marked five years in business on Tuesday.
CEO Geoff Hagar said there have been some ups and downs for the natural-gas equipment maker. When work for the 713-mile Rover Pipeline wrapped up in 2016, there wasn’t enough work coming in to sustain their level of production.
"And I said, 'So, I don’t want anyone buying any new houses or any new cars. I want you to take the overtime that you have and tuck it back so that if we have to come back and make a cut, you’ll have enough to weather the storm with us. And I know I’m taking a big risk by letting everyone know that,'" Hagar said.
Big Elk made it through, and Hagar said with an improved financing and business climate today, the next five years will make their first five look "piddly."
"We have been marketing innovation to our industry and doing things that people have not done before. We are in the process of expanding internationally. I would tell you that if we’re not $100 million-plus in revenue by 2023, I’ll consider myself a failure," Hagar said.
Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Sean Kouplen said Big Elk’s turnaround and, at one point, quadruple-digit growth was remarkable.
"I have seen tens of thousands of businesses, and never have I seen one that was so certain to not make it that is now the fastest-growing manufacturing company in the country. It is remarkable," Kouplen said.
Big Elk’s growth has slowed a bit to 200%. But it employs 115 people and made almost $32 million last year, according to Inc. magazine.