SALEM - It's more evidence of the shale boom.
RN Industries Trucking (RNI) moved it new eastern Ohio operations onto the old People's Lumber facility in February.
The Utah-based company is hooked up with Chesapeake Energy and the "Salem Yard," as northeast division Manager Floyd Collett called it, is the third corner in a geographical triangulation that includes RNI operations in DuBois/Falls Creek and Washington, Pa.
"This one (Salem), we're planning on being pretty big," Todd Morgan, the northeast regional assistant manager, said Tuesday.
There are 100 people employed so far in the region and RNI's trucks have been running out of the Snyder Road location on which a large portion of the five acres is devoted to an inventory of frack tanks.
RNI runs vac trucks, pipe hauling, water delivery, winch trucks, frack tanks and flat beds all on a 24/7 basis.
Right now there are six drivers, a sales rep, Gary Souder, and a dispatcher, Mark Evans, at the yard. Morgan says he's visits the Salem site at least once a week from the DuBois/Falls Creek operation.
RNI is hiring drivers and runs mostly straight trucks or bobtails but will eventually get into larger transports.
Collett said, "That's what all of our operations are, you have to be ready at a moment's notice. I'll bet that within six months we'll have at least 30 to 35 people, we'll need support personnel, office and laborers."
Morgan said, "We have to have enough drivers to support it."
RNI is looking for Class A CDLs with a tanker endorsement, two years experience and a clean driving record.
Companies have been spending hundreds of million and right now, with natural gas prices depressed, Morgan, a Pennsylvania native, said they don't know how fast things will grow, but RNI is still taking applications even though it has taken down a large "Now Hiring" sign in front of the yard.
He noted the Falls Creek operation has over a million invested in it.
"We expect the Salem operations to be up to Falls Creek in three years," Morgan said.
The Salem Yard has six tankers on site with six more on order.
"When we get those, we'll order more," Collect said, noting the company is in Harrison, Stark, Carroll and Columbiana counties serving the 12 regional Chesapeake Energy rigs.
Collett noted, "They're the biggest player in town" explaining RNI hauls fracking water and drilling mud in what he calls a "closed loop system on everything around here to clean up the environment as best we can."
He said laborers at the yard will clean up the trucks and tanks. Confined space permits are required and Collett said the EPA has been strict, noting a large fine levied in Pennsylvania for a relatively minor spill.
"We have little stickers that go on hard hats that say, 'Not one drop,'" he said.
Collett said a lot of safeguards have been put in place for the environment and to make sure people aren't getting injured or losing their lives.
Morgan said RNI has developed "a lot of electronic monitoring systems (EMS)" to make operations more efficient and ease the strain on drivers.
He explained, "drivers are assigned a truck, he does the pre-trip and the EMS is already on it. He picks up the product and it tells him where it's going. It's high tech. It's all electronic logs, no paperwork to fill out."
Morgan explained that drivers typically work 12-hour shifts "when we're hauling a lot of water to a frack."
It varies off and on, 12 to 14 off, and the trips are "pretty local."
"It'll be wherever the customer wants us to go. There's plenty of work around here and there will be a lot more."
As part of a $900 million investment in eastern Ohio, Chesapeake Energy and M3 Midstream announced last month that a plant will be built in Kensington to collect and compress natural gas with a capacity to process 600 million cubic feet per day.
Part of the complex will extract natural gas liquids (NGL) from the shale gas, such as propane, butane and ethane that will be piped to new transfer hub in Harrison County.
A Texas native, Souder noted the Kensington plant is "a dream for us because we're the closest trucking company."
Collett said, "What the companies are looking for is the liquid, they can sell it in barrel over here ... the natural gas is the same liquid - wet gas around here that can be refined into gasoline."
Souder explained that once a well is on line "it's always going to produce water and that water will have to be hauled to a proper disposal facility."
Morgan said. "What this has done to the area economies in Pennsylvania is incredible, simple things like going out to dinner ... it's standard of life values."
Collett said each rig supports 140 families as the ripple effect spreads through an area.
Souder, who rents a home in Salem, said, "This is the place to be."
He said there three big drilling rigs were in transit from Texas and offered a tip to local people saying that if he lived here, he would get his hands on some house to rent out.
Larry Shields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org