Prepolymer Products Inc., known in the industry as PCO, is looking to boost sales of its proprietary goods 10 percent with the introduction of polyurethane pipe and fittings. Called Armadillo, the piping is "tough and thick-skinned, like the animal," said John Christenson, chief executive officer and owner of Marshfield, Wis.-based PCO. The pipe is available in diameters of 2.5-10 inches, he said.
"We have fittings that go along with the pipe, including flanges, couplings, elbows and other attachments," Christenson said at the Polyurethane Manufacturers Association 2000 Spring Meeting, held recently in Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Armadillo is designed to replace steel or other types of plastic pipe, he said.
"In many of those steel and plastic applications, elbows wear out. You see holes with patches and then patches on the patches," Christenson said. "There's a lot of different pipe used and a lot has problems, especially in the high-abrasive area."
Armadillo "looked like a good application," he said. "Urethane, being an abrasive-resistant material, seemed natural for pipe."
The pipe offers three to five times greater wear and less maintenance than its competition, Christenson said.
The 18-year-old company makes a variety of products, including crane bumpers.
About 30 percent of its business comes from its cast urethane goods, with custom-molded products making up the remainder, he said. "We have 300 active customers, and we work strictly with cast elastomers."
Christenson is confident Armadillo will increase PCO's product sales to 40 percent of the firm's business.
The pipe and fittings vastly improve wear because they are elastomers, and particles bounce off rather than erode them, Christenson said.
If PCO's product sales, including Armadillo, improve and the custom-molding end of the company's business remains the same or increases slightly, the firm's sales will climb at least 10 percent in 2000, Christenson said.
He estimated Armadillo's sales will be in the $250,000 range in 2000. By the end of 2001, he expects revenues of about $1 million from pipe and fittings. Christenson did not say what overall 1999 sales were.
PCO operates out of a 15,000-square-foot facility in Marshfield. While it focuses heavily on its job-shop business, its product segment has been growing for years, he said.
For instance, the firm's crane bumpers come in 20-30 sizes. Like many of its products, PCO began producing them because "there weren't a lot of people making the bumpers," Christenson said. "We jumped in, and they've done well."