ATLANTA — Continuing one hundred years of company heritage was the focus of Victaulic’s press conference, held Jan. 15 at the AHR Expo in Atlanta.
Victaulic was founded in 1919 with a problem. It was World War I, and the British had trouble bringing fuel and water to the troops on the front line; they needed a faster way to connect pipe. Ernest Tribe, a lieutenant in the British military, realized pipes could be joined quickly and safely with a mechanical coupling. It was the first Victaulic coupling.
“He was smart enough to patent it,” said Rick Bucher, executive vice president of product and technology development, speaking at the press conference on the show floor. “Then he started the company that now we have today. Much of our success from then on has been developing products that meet customers’ unique needs, and do it in a way that adds value for their business, and adds value for us.”
Today, Victaulic has more than 2,000 patents around the world, and a crew of 200 engineers and designers who work on new product development.
“They work on two things: speed — getting a contractor on the job and off the job fast; that’s money. And they work on confidence so the owner … and the contractor can go to sleep at night and know it’s going to work,” Bucher said.
Both those things are more and more important in today’s environment, where it’s hard to find enough workers for the skilled trades.
“You need someone with low levels of skills to be able to put things in, and put them in with confidence,” Bucher said. “Every council we go to, every meeting we have, people are complaining about labor: ‘We can’t find labor.’ The average welder in the U.S. is something like 59 years old. How do you make it easier? Put something together in the field with the kind of labor they are able to get … take the intelligence of the wonderful skilled welders we have in the world, and put it into the products so things will go together faster.”
Looking forward, Bucher anticipates seeing more alternative piping materials and more building automation/modeling, a service which Victaulic started offering a couple years ago.
“It took us 85 years to revolutionize couplings, coming up with installation-ready technologies; first in carbon steel, and now you can see around the booth, you’ve got in carbon steel, stainless steel, copper, CPVC (which we came out with last year), HDPE, and even PPR now,” he said. The company also offers the “world’s first intelligent roll grooving tool,” also at the show, which traces grooves by operator or by project.