National Pipe & Plastics Inc., an extrusion firm headquartered in Vestal, N.Y., will invest about $2.5 million to add higher capacity equipment to both its plants by the end of the year. Although the firm will not add more extrusion lines, National Pipe will upgrade the equipment at its Greensboro, N.C., and Vestal plants. The firm has 29 lines.
``We've been selling out of pipe,'' said Allan McLean, president and chief executive officer.
The company has 260 employees. McLean said National Pipe will add a few more employees.
The company makes PVC pipe for the plumbing, water and sewer, and electrical industries. It reported sales of $65.8 million for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31.
The firm also has installed a natural gas engine to lower its utility expenses. The engine cost $130,000 with installation and does double duty. It powers a compressor that provides the air needed to extrude the PVC pipe. In addition, the heat generated from the engine is used to heat the 28,000-square-foot warehouse.
``Natural gas engines are fairly revolutionary when used as air compressors. There are only three other companies in New York state that use it,'' McLean said.
``We installed it because of the high cost of maintaining a manufacturing facility in New York state. Electricity is so expensive here, it's one of the highest in the country. We will save $50,000 per year; the engine itself pays out in less than two years,'' according to McLean.
Research and development money from New York State Electric and Gas reduced Nation-al Pipe's capital cost for the project by one-third.
National Pipe & Plastics also has a facility in Greensboro, N.C.
McLean said the firm will not install a natural gas engine there because the utilities are one-third to one-half of what they are in New York.