A man credited with turning a relatively small California firm into the nation's largest water-filtration equipment company has agreed to take the helm of Sarver, Pa.-based Underground Solutions Inc.
Underground Solutions, which specializes in underground pipe replacement and rehabilitation, is essentially a 28-employee start-up. With the addition of new President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Seidel, that's all about to change, said Mark Smith, the former president and CEO, who will assume the role of chairman.
Seidel was the president and CEO of Warrendale, Pa.-based U.S. Filter Corp. before leaving in August after the company was bought by German engineering firm Siemens AG and relocated from Palm Desert, Calif.
He will bring with him a new management team, at least two of whom are also former U.S. Filter executives. The deal is subject to UGSI shareholders' approval.
To say Smith is excited about the pending addition would be an understatement.
``The past six months have been hard work, begging and pleading to get him to come on board,'' Smith said of Seidel.
According to Smith, when Seidel and his management team took over U.S. Filter in the early 1990s, the company was doing about $10 million in annual sales.
``In 1995, they sold that company for $8.5 billion,'' Smith said. Smith is hoping Seidel & Co. can duplicate their success at UGSI. ``I basically went out and hired them to do the same thing here at Underground Solutions,'' he said.
UGSI, in addition to pipe replacement, can rehab old water systems by shooting PVC into the old pipe systems, and then blow hot steam through the pipe, which allows the PVC to form a brand-new inner-pipe wall, effectively replacing the old pipes without having to remove them.
``I think we'll see this rehabilitation for underground assets really becoming a major investment item for U.S. water utilities,'' said Christopher Gasson, publisher of Global Water Intelligence - a United Kingdom-based publication that provides analysis and data to the water market.
Seidel is the real deal, Gasson said.
``Andy is a man who gets the big picture,'' he said. ``He's really a brilliant person to work with. With this Underground Solutions, I think he has got a company with a great technology. I don't think anyone can rehabilitate pipe in quite the same way they do.''
Smith said UGSI technology allows for mile-long underground piping with fused joints that are as strong as the pipe itself.