The Plastics Pipe Institute has named a new executive director and relocated to Washington from New Jersey, all within the past year. Tom Walsh, named executive director when longtime director Stan Mruk retired in June 1994, said PPI wants to represent its main constituency - polyethylene pipe - in all its diversity.
PPI, a unit of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., is best known for the largest pressure-pipe market, municipal gas distribution. But Walsh said PE is growing in several other important new markets, including no-dig pipe rehabilitation and water.
``The rehab market is going to be the most fascinating market,'' Walsh said. ``It seems that there's all kinds of markets, all kinds of processes. There's a tremendous amount of work going on there.''
In water pipe, PPI helped the American Water Works Association write PE pipe standards several years ago, he said. PE is finding a niche in specific water markets where more rigid pipe, such as PVC, may encounter problems.
PE water pipe grew by 5 percent in 1993, to 60 million pounds, according to PPI.
PPI reported strong 1993 growth of 15 percent or more in four major PE pipe categories: industrial; oil and gas production; gas distribution; and sewer/drainpipe.
Although PPI is not scheduled to release 1994 statistics until July, Walsh said preliminary numbers show continued significant growth.
Highway culverts are a market with huge potential for nonpressure, large-diameter, corrugated PE pipe, according to Walsh. Currently, concrete and corrugated steel dominate that market.
Walsh's background is in pipe and PE, polypropylene and engineering resins at Solvay Polymers Inc. in Houston.
PPI moved from Wayne, N.J., to SPI headquarters in Washington when Mruk retired. Mruk has become a consultant based in New Providence, N.J.
In other news, the Plastics Pipe Institute has hired Mel Young as engineering manager. He formerly worked at Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, N.Y., specializing in pipe rehabilitation.
For a number of years, municipal gas distribution has been the fastest-growing, and largest pressure-pipe application for PE pipe. The segment showed resilient growth in 1993, expanding by 15 percent.
``Gas is not as mature as many people may think,'' Walsh said. ``There's a lot of work going on in gas. We're looking at several issues. One is the utilities would like to run higher pressures and we're looking to facilitate that with some technical work.''