High density polyethylene pipe and fittings maker Independent Pipe Products Inc. is moving into a former Performance Pipe facility in Abbeville, S.C.
The Dallas-based company had been seeking an East Coast location at least since April, when IPPI bought an American Maplan extrusion line capable of making pipe in diameters up to 65 inches.
The large-diameter unit will be the centerpiece of the new IPPI plant, which will be 48,000 square feet after the company completes a 12,000-square-foot expansion a project currently under way, said Steve Bowles, development services director of Abbeville County Development Board.
IPPI is investing a minimum of $7 million on the project, and will start with at least 25 employees, according to a news release from the South Carolina Department of Commerce.
The operation will run 24 hours a day, seven days per week, Bowles said Oct. 15 by telephone.
IPPI President and CEO Ron Hopton-Jones could not be reached for comment.
This new facility will move us closer to our growing customer base on the East Coast, Hopton-Jones said in the Oct. 14 release. South Carolina offers us an excellent business environment, and Abbeville County had an existing facility in which we could house our operations and grow.
Hopton-Jones told Plastics News in April that the new plant would have six or seven extrusion lines and about 50 million pounds of throughput capacity.
IPPI has been fabricating HDPE pipe fittings for about 30 years, cutting extrusions and fusion welding them into fittings vs. injection molding them. Hopton-Jones had said it is difficult to injection mold fittings competitively for diameters larger than 10 inches.
The company employs 110 at its 275,000-square-foot headquarters plant, purchased in 2004, when the fittings maker moved into HDPE pipe extrusion after buying the PE pipe division of Houston-based North American Pipe Co.
The North American Pipe PE business was extruding about 24 million pounds of throughput on five lines in 2004. Since the acquisition, IPPI has grown that business to about 40 million pounds annually on nine extrusion lines.
The company makes smooth-wall pressure pipe for various markets including natural-gas delivery, mining, sanitary sewer and potable-water transfer.
IPPI makes pipe from 2-36 inches in diameter. The new, 65-inch line will open up a plethora of new markets. It's not like you're going to find one on every street corner, Hopton-Jones said in April.
Neither Maplan nor IPPI will confirm, but the 65-inch line is believed to be just the fifth of its kind in the United States. Los Angeles-based JM Eagle owns two, and Gainesville, Texas-based PolyPipe Inc. owns another.
HDPE pipe is the dominant material used for natural-gas delivery in the U.S. It has only a fraction about 3 percent of the water-delivery market, and HDPE pipe producers see that as a growth opportunity.
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