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Piping Technology & Products

  Experienced Manufacturer of Pipe Supports since 1978
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PT&P History: The First Thirty-Five Years

Index | Acknowledgements | Milestones | Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Read More

Chapter 9: Planting Seeds - Building Relationships: Enhancing Quality, Safety, and Customer Services

Throughout the history of PT&P, ensuring that all products met the highest standards of quality has been the core philosophy behind the firm's corporate culture. As the company acquired its new subsidiaries and doubled the size of its workforce during the years from 2004–2010, it also took several important steps to further enhance its reputation for producing the highest quality piping products, providing good customer service, and improving plant safety for its personnel.


When PT&P acquired Pipe Shields in 2004, it added a subsidiary that had a sterling reputation in the piping industry and also held the prestigious ISO-9001 certification for quality control. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) establishes international requirements for quality management systems. An ISO-9001 certification signifies that a company's quality control management system has been measured and approved against a best-practice standard by a third party certification body. The ISO-9001 certification is tantamount to an assurance of quality for customers, a confirmation that the firm has put into practice the required internal processes to meet its stated quality objectives. PT&P had been considering this certification for some time, and the addition of Pipe Shields served as a catalyst in getting the process moving again. Since Pipe Shields relocated to Houston and reorganized as a Texas corporation, the firm's ISO certification was no longer valid, requiring the new subsidiary to be re-certified. PT&P engaged the services of Det Norske Veritas (DNV), one of the world's premiere ISO certification agencies, as its third party certification body. DNV, an independent, international foundation, specializes in providing services for managing risk with the goal of protecting life, property, and the environment. It has issued over 70,000 certificates worldwide and provides the most up-to-date management systems certification services for a variety of clients, including many Fortune 500 companies as well as for medium and smaller businesses.

Many customers who ordered products from Pipe Shields had begun requiring ISO certification before accepting bids on new projects. Therefore, PT&P's management decided to acquire the ISO certification for its Pipe Shields subsidiary, which produced insulated pipe supports. They did not want to lose any of the firm's previous customers due to the loss of the certification because of the move to Houston, and since they had planned on getting this certification anyway, decided to go through the process for the Pipe Shields subsidiary. Since certification involved a very detailed procedure, they chose to learn the process by certifying one division first, and then go through the certification again later to cover other departments and subsidiaries. PT&P already carried several industry-approved certifications for some of its subsidiaries, including SWECO, which had ASME Section-8 certification, and Anchor Darling, in New Hampshire, which had an N-stamp. The ISO-9001 was the appropriate certification for the company's Pipe Shields subsidiary and would greatly enhance its quality control credentials.

Rick Moreau, PT&P's operations manager, had gained experience dealing with the certification procedure for a previous employer. Calling on Moreau's expertise, PT&P began the certification process after the Fronek acquisitions, but it seemed to gain momentum after the company hired Hank Lippold as quality control manager in March 2006. "We got serious about it with the background I had, and then they brought Hank on board," said Moreau. "With his involvement, my involvement, and a couple of other people, we were able to get everything ironed out with the ISO program." With many people contributing to the certification, all of whom had their own ideas and suggestions; it sometimes proved to be a tedious endeavor. The certification program included writing a manual that established quality standards and clearly defined each step of the production process. David Smith recalled that on some days, "we would get in these discussions where everybody was debating which method was best, and we would get sidetracked." Smith credits Randy Bailey as one who could get the process moving forward again. "We finally came up with something we could live by," said Smith. "Once we all got on the same page…it was easy." Hank Lippold recalled that he had been working about one month at PT&P, just long enough to learn his way around, when he became involved in the ongoing ISO program. "We worked on it approximately . . . I am going to say about eight or nine months. We were able to turn around, have our first audit, and get our certification."

One interesting feature of ISO is that while it has specific elements to its program, it does not dictate how a firm will meet the fundamentals of good quality control. It is up to the individual firm to establish its own quality procedures and record how it will address each of the ISO elements as they relate to its particular industry. Once the company is formally certified, it must follow its own self-identified quality and production standards. As Larry Altshuler explained, with ISO "everything is planned and adhered to. But with this program… if you go to people and you say you are ISO certified, they know the minimum standards they are going to get, which are very high. And it gives you a good feeling when you know you are turning out something that is really darn good all of the time!"

PT&P received its ISO-9001 certification for the "Manufacture of Hot and Cold Pipe Supports" on October 23, 2007, a testimony that "PT&P's Quality Management System has been certified against the best practice standard and is compliant." Acquiring the ISO-9001 certification was an important milestone for PT&P. Rick Moreau noted the significance of the new certification, stating that, "it shows customers that you are taking that next step, you are in the upper echelon of fabrication companies." And David Smith observed that "The big selling point is that some of our customers, especially the overseas clients, will not do business with you unless you are ISO certified." For PT&P, the new ISO certification proved helpful in that it established written standards that the company's growing workforce easily could learn and maintain. The extensive, step-by-step documentation ensured that everyone was familiar with those standards. "Quality control is really different in the world as we know it today," stated Lippold. "It does not mean that you have any better quality than you had before, it is just that they want you to back it up more. So, we spend more time testing and documenting everything we do."

Hank Lippold, Quality Control Manager performing a cold shoe test.

Mailing: P.O. Box 34506, Houston, TX 77234-4506 Location: 3701 Holmes Road, Houston, TX 77051
Our Subsidiaries: U.S. Bellows: Metallic & Fabric Expansion Joints, Bellows
Sweco Fab: ASME Vessels, Pig Launchers, Spectacle Blinds
 Pipe Shields: Pre-Insulated Pipe Supports, Slides, Guides & Anchors

Fronek Anchor/Darling
: Snubbers, Sway Struts & Sway Braces
Phone: (713) 731-0030 Toll-Free: (800) 787-5914 FAX: (713) 731-8640 info@pipingtech.com

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