General Director-USA, Mexico
Life in the oil industry is like a roller coaster ride. First they send you here, and then there, and then everywhere. At least for Isaac Hochman and family it seemed like that as they moved from McAllen to Tyler, Texas, then to Reynosa, and then to penguin heaven, Patagonia, Argentina. Last, Isaac moved his family to Venezuela where Raquel, last of their three children, was born.
At that time Venezuela was one of the top oil producers in the world, and the government was involved in the business.
“There was a need for our products, and nobody was making them locally,” Raquel Hochman, General Director-USA, Mexico, said as she told the story of her American petroleum engineer father. “Since he was already manufacturing other items for the industry and there was incentive to produce these items as well, he decided to start the company in 1982 dedicated to the manufacture and distribution of equipment and accessories for the cementing of oil wells. That’s how he got to Venezuela, because he was actually the engineer involved in getting all their wells cemented. He knew exactly what was needed.”
This growing company, which competes head on with the big guys in their industry, provides items such as float collars, float shoes, stop collars and centralizers.
Imagine digging an extremely large hole towards “black gold,” even up to 4,000 or 5,000 feet deep. To put equipment down that hole, it must be secured so as not to collapse in on itself. That is done with cement. A large tube is inserted into the hole, and a fitting similar to a large collar (float shoe) is attached to the bottom, with a check valve inside to allow cement to run out the bottom and back up the sides, but not back up into the tube. Another collar-like fitting (float collar) is attached to the top.
The tube must also be stabilized to stay centered in the hole and, that’s what the centralizers do. Once the cement is set the production equipment is put through your series of tubes so it can collect the oil.
Collars and centralizers are just a part of the necessary equipment needed for this particularly specialized field of the oil industry.
“I like the fact that we have a nice, competent organization. We’re beating out the big guys in quality and prices,” Raquel said. “We’re small but we keep quite a good presence out there. Right now our Texas division’s main area covers the Eagle Ford Basin.”
Moving for the third time since opening a location in the Valley in 2011, Raquel is excited about the latest relocation.
“We’re now offering an onsite service aspect to our business,” she explained. “When our service techs get a call to install the centralizers, they can grab their tools, jump in their trucks and head off. And the reasoning for moving into this larger location is to be able to hold more inventory. I’m really excited about this. It’s going to be a whole new presence out of McAllen. We’ve been on the supply side of the business and now we’ll also focus on this service side.”
Raquel’s passion for her company and her work is obvious. The only member of the family who chose to go into the family business, it is apparent she loves what she does. She started her career as an architect, working in Spain for three years, first on the 1992 Olympic venues, and then on designing palaces for a family in Dubai with no budget restrictions. European politics of the time sent her home to Venezuela.
Finding the job situation in Venezuela dismal, when her father offered her a job, she took it and never looked back.
“I’ve loved it. I traveled a lot then, all of Latin America.”
Raquel moved to Reynosa when her father became ill, she took the lead when he passed away. Today Mego Afek has 42 employees in Mexico, nine in McAllen and five in Venezuela.
“We’ve had a few rough years,” she admitted. “We’ve always been small but we’re also very slim, very lean. A lot of larger companies downsized so much they became midgets. We’ve been around for 36 years and we’ve been able to hang in there to the point that no matter how small the market becomes, there’s still market share for us.”
Joining the Chamber from Day One, Mego Afek has got its feet on the ground, and deep, deep into the earth.