A huge aquarium under construction at a new California facility for Georg Fischer LLC will help educate school customers about some of the plastic pipes, tubes and valves made by the business unit of Switzerland-based Georg Fischer AG.
It will make a splash with television viewers too.
A crew from the hit reality show “Tanked” filmed the aquarium installation for an episode of the Animal Planet series expected to air on Oct. 10.
In its fourth season, the show follows the antics of the family that owns Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM) as they build some of the world's most specialized custom aquariums and exhibits. Think giant tanks in shapes of a gumball machine for a diner, treasure chest for a children's hospital, and prop for escape artist Harry Houdini with a life-size statue of the late magician upside underwater wearing a straight jacket and ankle shackles. That one was for actor Neil Patrick Harris.
Now think even bigger, like a 1 million-gallon holding facility for dolphins at Sea World. The chain of marine theme parks happens to be a customer of both ATM, a Las Vegas-based business owned by brothers-in-law Wayde King and Brett Raymer, and GF Piping Systems as it's called in the industry in North America.
U.S. operations for Georg Fischer also include manufacturing locations in Easton, Pa., and Dallas, which ranks 28 among pipe, profile and tubing extruders. The Easton site makes PVC and chlorinated PVC pipes for industrial applications. The Dallas site makes large-diameter polyethylene pipes and fittings for water distribution. The company has estimated sales of $150 million.
In California, GF Piping specializes in plastic parts for aquatic, energy, refrigeration, microelectronic and life science applications. After 35 years in Tustin, the business moved to a larger 115,000-square-foot facility about 10 miles away in Irvine, in part to have space for a demonstration room to show how its products operate in life-like settings.
“The aquarium business is a major market for us,” Brian Gordon, product marketing manager said, in a telephone interview. “Sea World is a big customer — those kinds of aquariums. We'll have an interactive demo display so customers can come in and see a huge fish tank with all of our valves, automation and piping.”
The demonstration room has also a refrigeration unit lining a wall like you see at a grocery store for customers in the food industry and a high-purity water system used to make semiconductor chips for high-tech clients.
Gordon said GF Piping invested more than $5 million into remodeling the building, which also doubles the office spaces, triples the fabrication departments, and has a training room for up to 100 people.
“We do a lot of custom fabrication here,” he said. “We make custom parts and prefabricate sections of piping. We make manifolds so customers don't have to do it in the field in the dirt. We make complicated spool pieces in house and ship it to them. All they need to do is bolt it together.”
GF Piping ran out of room to grow at its previous location, according to James Jackson, who was recently named the head of the Americas business unit.
“GF already has a significant U.S. footprint with many locations across the country,” Jackson said in a news release. “The new site allows us to further increase our presence on the West Coast by providing additional custom manufacturing, training capabilities and expanding personnel as needed.”
About 110 employees work at the site. Gordon said there is room for another 40.