Morooka USA East sells track carriers to natural-gas market

Heavy equipment used in the construction of gas pipelines

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Print this page by Donna C. Gregory

Natural gas fuels many stoves and furnaces, but few people probably think about how natural gas gets to our homes. Ken Byrd, president of Morooka USA East, knows that process intimately. That’s how his company increased sales 2,707 percent from percent from 2005 through 2008.

“The key reason for the growth is energy related,” says Byrd. “Over the past several years, there’s been a dramatic increase in the exploration of natural gas, and once the natural gas pockets are found, the companies that own these pockets have to get them to market. The most economical way is by pipeline, and by as straight of a line as possible and in as remote of an area as possible.”

Pipeline construction requires heavy equipment, able to withstand tough terrain and wet conditions without getting stuck. Byrd says the Morooka’s Japanese-made track carrier — essentially a dump truck on rubber tracks — is the right tool for the job. It is able to navigate where traditional wheeled vehicles can’t, providing an easy mode of transport for equipment and workers. About 70 percent of track carriers sold by Morooka USA-East are used in the natural-gas pipeline industry.

“Once the natural gas pipeline contractors saw how well our machine fit their need, we had this phenomenal growth. It will go in some pretty tough conditions,” says Byrd.

The company is now looking to other industries that might have a use for its track carriers. “Energy exploration is currently a niche that we’re interested in. Any type of equipment you can mount on a truck that’s being used in the construction industry … if there’s a ground pressure issue, you can mount it on our truck,” says Byrd.

Morooka USA East sells its machines through a nationwide group of 30 dealers. “I think you’ll see the market continue to grow more and more as people get used to using track machines,” predicts Matt Slater, director of sales for Rig Source Inc., in Elburn, Ill., one of the dealers. “They’re not really a mainstream item yet, and [Morooka USA East] is helping them grow to that point.”

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