Infiltrator Systems Inc. got new owners a few weeks ago, and now its name is changing to reflect what the Old Saybrook, Conn.-based company is offering beyond its stronghold in the septic and storm water industries.
The manufacturer of engineered plastic chambers, tanks and accessories announced May 28 that it is now called Infiltrator Water Technologies LLC.
While the business holds 74 active and pending patents, the moniker switch was made to take into account the company's entry into new markets, Jim Bransfield, Infiltrator's director of marketing, said in a telephone interview.
“We're on the wastewater side of the business but our technologies can be applied to other markets,” Bransfield said. “We recently began producing our tanks in a potable version. As we learn more about the water market, we see ourselves expanding into the clean water side of the business for tank storage and drainage products.”
In the announcement, Infiltrator President and CEO Roy Moore put it this way: “The updated name helps to better define and communicate the company's strategy to provide innovative products to effectively manage all forms of water.”
When it comes to wastewater, Infiltrator is arguably the largest manufacturer of onsite products used where there is no centralized sewer system.
“In looking at the entire market as we understand it, we think about 50 percent of the systems in the U.S. use one of our products or another,” Bransfield said.
The company has various product lines and brands of leachfield chambers for wastewater disposal; geosynthetic aggregates for drainage; tanks for septic uses, rain harvesting and potable water applications; and storm water chambers for collecting rain and conveying it back into the environment at a slow rate.
Infiltrator's products, which are made mostly of polypropylene and polyethylene, are approved for use in all 50 states and all Canadian provinces.
The company's push to expand into a larger water management platform appealed to its new owner — the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, which bought the 25-year-old business for $530 million from the private equity firm Graham Partners Inc.
The Philadelphia-based firm had acquired Infiltrator in 2005 as a portfolio company and saw sales grow to $190 million in 2014. Graham increased the company's earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation and amortization by 2.6x through five tactical add-on acquisitions, new product releases and operational improvements, according to its May 28 news release about its “rewarding partnership with management.”
The management team can expect continued support, according to Jane Rowe, senior vice president of Teachers' Private Capital. The pension plan manages C$154.5 billion (US$124.1 billion) in net assets for 311,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario.
Rowe said in a statement that the administrators of the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada look forward to supporting Infiltrator's efforts to “build on the company's record of operational excellence and new product development.”
Many of Infiltrator's products are manufactured in Winchester, Ky., where it designed and built what it is believed to be the world's largest low-pressure injection molding machine based on the platen size. The gigantic press began molding 15-foot long, PP septic tank halves with 6,000 tons of clamping force in March 2014.
Infiltrator uses nearly 100 percent recycled materials with the mammoth molder. The tank halves nest together for economical shipping to distributors, where they are assembled into 1,500-gallon tanks for residential wastewater use.
The company also has five regional plants in Alabama, North Carolina, Texas, Illinois and Oregon that are smaller operations producing the EZflow line of geosynthetic aggregate and other products that aren't injection molded.
During the company sale, Infiltrator was advised by a team of investment bankers from Harris Williams & Co., which touted the appeal of Infiltrator's lightweight, easy-to-install products for the improving construction industry, where plastic products are taking market share from traditional materials like concrete and stone.
“For the septic drain field products we think we're about half way there; its half-way converted,” Bransfield said. “For the concrete septic tanks to plastic septic tanks, that conversion is early on. I'd say that's a newer conversion with a strong trend line moving to polymer-based products.”
The housing recovery should bode well for more mergers and acquisitions, according to Ryan Nelson, a managing director at Harris Williams & Co.
“The Infiltrator transaction is a further example of the strong investor interest in building products companies,” he said in a statement. “We expect the ongoing recovery in single-family construction will drive M&A activity in the sector.”