GAINESVILLE, TEXAS (June 30, 10:30 a.m. EDT) — Connectra Fusion Technologies LLC competes as a scrappy underdog in selling equipment to fuse polyethylene pipe.
In December, for example, Connectra delivered 12 lightweight, hand-pump machines to a New York subsidiary of Consolidated Edison Inc. for fusing PE in restrictive spaces.
“It was a total surprise that a gas utility wanted a hand-pump unit,” Ron Underwood, Connectra president, said May 6 during the San Diego conference of the Plastic Pipe Institute Inc.
At less than $10,000 each, Connectra's updated hand-pump with a centerline mechanism costs about 20 percent less than a hydraulic machine, and in confined areas can effectively fuse PE pipe with diameters of 2 inches to 8 inches.
“We are now selling into the sewer lateral market in municipalities,” he said. Major cities are replacing lateral sanitary sewer pipes.
Connectra of Gainesville targets niches in a PE fusion equipment market that McElroy Manufacturing Inc. of Tulsa, Okla., dominates.
McElroy has “taken the product line upscale, and the industry has bought into the move,” Underwood said.
McElroy has another viewpoint. “We are giving customers more options, from plain-Jane [models] on wheels to some on tracks with their own generator,” Jim Craig, McElroy national sales manager, said by telephone. “We try to show the advantages of more expensive options.”
Underwood said he aims to keep Connectra's equipment simple, intuitive to use, cost-effective to maintain and focused on functions necessary to deliver heat-fused pipe.
Connectra employs 37, occupies 35,000 square feet and has operated as a joint venture of T.D. Williamson Inc. of Tulsa and Christie Capital Inc. of Dallas since a 2001 merger of their PE fusion product businesses.