German PP pipe maker opens North American headquarters

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Photo by Aquatherm GmbH Members of the Rosenberg family at the North American grand opening in Lindon, Utah.

Polypropylene pipe major Aquatherm GmbH has moved its North American headquarters into a bigger facility where it held a grand opening on April 4 in Lindon, Utah.

Aquatherm, based in Attendorn, Germany, seriously entered the US market in 2007 when it opened an office in Provo, Utah. That office also consolidated the former Canadian office in Cardston, Alberta, in 2009.

The company’s first foray into the North American market occurred in 2005 when mechanical engineer Steve Clark started a distribution business for the PP pipe in Canada. Now Canadian subsidiary Aquatherm CA is based in Airdrie, Alberta.

The new facility in Lindon does not manufacture PP pipe or fittings, instead it imports product from its German parent and fabricates pipe into various configurations.

Barry Campbell, Aquatherm North America vice president of marketing, said in a phone interview that the company is the only one in North America offering a piping system that directly contributes to LEED v4 points for sustainability and environmentally low-impact construction. The Lindon facility was designed and built along LEED principles and all its piping systems are based on the firm’s proprietary, heat-stabilized PP resin.

Campbell said Aquatherm does not compete head-to-head with high density polyethylene or PVC pipe, the stalwarts in outdoor plastic pipe systems. The company's main focus is on indoor applications such as conveying hot or chilled water throughout a building, transporting potable water, fire sprinkler systems and radiant heating systems.

It does supply PP pipe for some special outdoor use as in heating, venting and air conditioning systems.

“We are more highly engineered than PVC pipe and get a better joint through fusion,” Campbell said. “We are more likely to compete against nylon or metal.”

Aquatherm claims its pipe can handle liquids as hot as 180° F at pressure of 100 pounds per square inch. The PP pipe has numerous code approvals and the firm offers a ten-year, multi-million dollar warranty.

Aquatherm built an 82,000-square-foot facility in Lindon that includes design and fabrication, quality assurance laboratories, engineering, warehousing and offices. Many of the company’s PP pipe applications require fabrication steps such as component insertion and insulation. Officials said at the grand opening that it will house one of the largest concentrations of PP piping in North America. It will stock PP pipe ranging from 1/2 to 24 inches in diameter.

“The building was constructed and designed to ensure the continued expansion and improvement of our fabrication and design abilities, which are a material benefit for those who support and use Aquatherm PP-R piping systems” said Aquatherm North America CEO Jordan Hardy in a news release.

The new headquarters showcases many Aquatherm products in use in the building’s water, compressed air and heating and cooling systems. Notable is the Aquatherm Black System of radiant panels to heat and cool office and training areas. The panels comprise the ceilings and many of the walls of those areas.

Many of the building’s systems are designed for sustainability and small environmental footprint. Low-E glass and skylights expose areas to natural, outdoor light. Concrete and steel walls are made of recycled materials. The roof and walls are highly insulated and energy-efficient lighting is tightly controlled to further reduce energy consumption.

Aquatherm’s head office campus in Attendorn comprises several buildings with distinct functions of pipe extrusion, injection molding of fittings and manifolds, tool building, fabrication and other functions. Videos of the facilities show upwards of 15 Engel injection molding machines and at least five Leistritz pipe extrusion lines with downstream machinery. A metal processing plant makes fittings and other components required for many of the company’s piping systems.

Aquatherm opened a second plant in Germany in the early 1990s. The Radeberg factory makes more than 30 million feet of PP pipe annually. Aquatherm opened a branch office in Italy in 1998, now located in Massa.

Aquatherm is a family-owned business. Many of the Rosenbergs were on hand for the Lindon opening, as were Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Lindon Mayor Jeff Acerson.

Instead of a ribbon cutting ceremony, officials fused two pieces of the company’s pipe together to symbolize the partnership of the parent company and its US and Canadian operations.

“Aquatherm has a culture of caring about people,” Cox stated at the opening. “It’s a family-run company whose values and culture will fit perfectly here in Utah.”

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