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The 2017 Industry of the Year award at the 124th Ponca City Area Chamber of Commerce banquet Thursday was presented to Gary and Leigh Harvey, owners of MJ&H Fabrication. Laurence Beliel from the Ponca City Development Authority made the presentation.
Beliel made the following comments in his introduction to the award:
“The Industry of the Year for 2017 has performed at an extraordinary level of achievement and engagement in our community and beyond. In addition to recognizing this year’s outstanding achiever, it’s also an opportunity for us as a community to step back and say, ‘Thank You’, to one of many of the economic engines in Ponca City. Thank you for being in Ponca City, thank you for continuing to build our community, thank you for being there … day in and day out … providing jobs and paychecks that drive our economy.
As with most years, 2017 had no shortage of candidates. In my job, I have the great privilege of working with Ponca City industries on a daily basis which gives me the chance to get to know these economic heroes on a personal level. To see what they do … to understand their challenges … to experience their anguish during those painful times when layoffs are necessary and yes … to see their pride and to sense the possibilities as they say the words, ‘You’re Hired’ to someone needing a job … are all powerful moments. I know how much they care because I’ve seen how much they care.

The Industry of the Year award is about real, solid accomplishments and not so much the glitz and glamour of a Chamber of Commerce banquet. It’s about stepping up when you’re community needs you … it’s about innovation … it’s about adaptability … it’s about community involvement … it’s about creating a team that employees are proud to call their own, it’s about creating community partnerships … it’s making a community a better place because you are in it … and last but certainly not least … it’s about getting things done.
So let’s take a look at this year’s honoree. When one of our industrial companies announced their shutdown and began their layoffs due to the downturn in oil, this company actively sought out some of the affected employees and offered them jobs. When they faced the nationwide problem of finding more welders, they didn’t wait for someone else to solve their problem … they organized a two day welding competition at Pioneer Technology Center with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners all given jobs upon graduation. (nice prizes were given too). This worked so well … hey hired a fourth from this competition as well.
Our honoree and his team are kind of a big deal. As a matter of fact … many of their products are a big deal! For they are manufacturers of really large vessels … some people think of them as simply a tank. However, these vessels must pass stringent tests for they are used in fields as diverse as the oil and gas industries to munitions disposal … where withstanding high temperatures and pressures are an absolute must. As you might guess … the extreme quality demand requires expert certifications and a high level of craftsmanship … a level of expertise delivered by the company and its 90 employees.

When some of their finished products, products we can all point to and proudly say, ‘that was made in Ponca City,’ were just too big to get under the traffic signal arms, the company designed and installed … at their expense … an innovative swivel base that allows traffic signals to be easily moved out of the way of large loads (30 feet wide and 32 high) by the City’s traffic control crews. When Hurricane Harvey struck Houston, a city whom Ponca City has significant business and personal relations, this company organized a mission to help. They solicited local donations in Ponca City and other communities and then … delivered the donations door to door and spent days cooking at different sites and different communities for the countless and unknown relief workers. They did this … not because it let the people of Houston know that Ponca City stood with them … although it did. They did this … not because it was a great way to remind companies in the Houston area of their connections to Ponca City … although it did that too. This did this … not because it brought glory to the company’s name. This did this for one simple reason … they cared.
It wasn’t too long ago that the northwest corner of Hall and Sykes Boulevard in the Airport Industrial Park was nothing but a grassy field. As a matter of fact … until the company came along in 2013 … there wasn’t even a Northwest corner of Hall and Sykes Boulevard. Today it’s a beehive of activity and a beehive that has produced so much for their employees and for our local economy.

Please join me in congratulating…Gary and Leigh Harvey, owners of the Ponca City Area Chamber of Commerce 2017 Industry of the Year, M J & H Fabrication.”