The year was 1968. A young college student from Lakhanpur, India stepped off a plane in the United States to complete his graduate studies in engineering at the University of Houston. This scenario might sound all too common. It might be, if we were talking about anyone but Durga Agrawal. The only thing that might be more impressive than Agrawal himself, is his many accomplishments.
His original intentions were to finish his education and return to India to start his own business. Life, however, has a way of taking us on journeys that we could never have imagined for ourselves. That journey for Agrawal began in 1975 with the establishment of Pipe Technology & Products.
“I saw an obvious niche in the pipe support industry,” Agrawal, President of Piping Technology & Products, explains. “It seemed that customers were searching for a company to provide fast, dependable service with an innovative edge.” He accomplished this by developing original designs that expanded the company’s product base and made production methods more efficient. The catalyst for innovation came in 1977 with Agrawal’s design for a new, modular bolted spring hammer. His new design increased the quality of the product and reduced the production lead-time from 12 weeks to just seven days.
Soon after, in 1978, Pipe Technology & Products was incorporated. It would only be a matter of a few short years before the company would become one of the leading manufacturers of pipe supports and piping products in the world.
Strength of Diversity
Any good businessman knows that growth is not an instantaneous occurrence, but rather a well-thought, systematic strategy. With business booming, Agrawal knew it would be unwise to put all his eggs in one industrial basket. His willingness to diversity and branch out into other areas of the industrial sector has allowed Piping Technology & Products to steadily grow through strong and weak economies.
“Corporate diversification has always been a priority for us,” says Agrawal. “It has allowed us to not only survive economic downturns, but competition as well. During the 1980’s, Houston’s economy crashed with the demise of the oil, gas and real estate industries. While many of our competitors failed, we not only survived, but thrived because of our corporate structure.”
Building Through Growth Piping Technology & Products
manufactures highly engineered products for the construction and engineering industries. Among their clients are the prestigious power plant construction companies, Southern Co. and Calpine. The products provided for such clients include pipe supports, spring supports, vibrations control devices, pre-insulated pipe supports, hold-down clamps, slide bearings of Teflon, graphite and stainless steel and fabricated pipe shoes, among many others.
Growth for Piping Technology & Products has been steady since 1986 when it acquired Sweco Fab, Inc. Today, Sweco produces pressure vessels, Pig launchers and receivers, spectacle and line blinds and bellmouth reducers. In 1991, the company bought 80 percent of NPS Equipment. That purchase was followed up by acquisition of RM Engineered Products in 1995. This marked Piping Technology & Products’ first venture into metallic expansion joints.
The company’s most recent acquisition and wholly owned subsidiary has been U.S. Bellows in 1997. This purchase allowed Piping Technology and Products to delve even further into metallic expansion joints.“We saw this acquisition as a key move for us because we saw a limited number of producers of these types of products in the market,” explains Agrawal. “We were especially interested in producing metallic expansion joints with large diameters. This move gave us the opportunity to do that.”
U.S. Bellows produces a variety of metallic expansion joints. These include thin wall metallic, rubber, fabric, slip-type and thick wall.Today, Piping Technology & Products is headquartered in Houston, Texas. The company’s 450,000-square-foot plant is located on 22 acres. Nearly 400 employees work in three shifts to bring top quality products and comprehensive services to their customers.
Quality Number One
“It isn’t enough to bring a good product at a reasonable price to our customer,” stresses Agrawal. “We strive to bring an excellent product to our client at the most competitive price.” One way this is done is through Piping Technology & Products’ sophisticated testing and analysis procedures. Quality assurance is guaranteed from the time the product rolls off the assembly line to its installation at the client location.
Burst testing evaluates pressure balanced expansion joints that are designed to maintain a constant volume through the use of compensating bellows. Snubber testing includes consistent check-ups and maintenance of piping system supports. Included in additional testing and supportive services are load testing, stress analysis and drafting services.
Expanding Product Base
Piping Technology & Products knows that a product is only as good as the supportive services that surround it. That’s why the company has dedicated itself to the expansion of technical personnel and a computerized support product network. “We’ve combined engineering experts with elite fabricators to create products and services that specifically address our customers’ concerns,” says Agrawal.
Customer desktop service provides secure information about the status of a customer’s project anywhere, anytime. The secured server assures the client that they can search for and provide information with confidence. Finite element analysis software is being used to simulate the loads and resulting stresses a particular design might experience in the field. These money-saving software procedures allow potential problems to be forecast and prototypes to be fine-tuned before they reach the customer.
Also included in their software solutions package is a PDS product software catalog and customer specific databases. These individualized databases include drawings for their specific piping standards and also allow for quick changes when new designs are created for customers.
A Promising Future
With the economy on the rebound, it looks as though Piping Technology & Products might be in for another expansion boom. The company’s metallic expansion joint business is expected to grow 30 to 40 percent. “We’re also projecting a healthy increase in sales to the power plant and construction industries,” predicts Agrawal, “as well as good results for our petrochemical ventures.”
With a past success story like that of Piping Technology & Products, it might seem impossible that things could get much brighter. Don’t forget, though, this isn’t just any company. It’s Druga Agrawal’s Piping Technology & Products.