Home / News / Victaulic's Industrial Legacy And Modern Popularity Are A Great Combination

Victaulic's Industrial Legacy And Modern Popularity Are A Great Combination

Oct 20, 2023Oct 20, 2023

You’ve probably heard the ancient parable of the blind men and the elephant, where each man feels a single particular part of the creature and immediately "knows" exactly what it is: a serpent, a tree, a wall, a rope, or a spear.

It's sort of like that with pipe-joining solution provider Victaulic. "A lot of folks will say, ‘I know Victaulic’ – but they’ve only seen one piece of what we do, like our pipe couplings or our fire protection systems," explained Eric Luftig, the company's Vice President and Head of Marketing. "People in chemical plants might know us for small diameter, compressed air piping systems, and people in municipal water facilities might know us for our large diameter pipe-joining solutions. But we’re kind of like ‘Intel Inside’ – we have things in so many places that people just don't know about. We like to say, ‘from the tallest towers to the deepest mines.’ Once you see it and understand who we are, you can't help but find our technology at work everywhere."

Victaulic worldwide headquarters located in Easton, PA.

Most people outside of industry, though, have never heard of Victaulic. That's because all the major categories of their products are focused on piping system solutions. They include pipe-joining components, fittings, flow control valves, equipment modules, and tools for various liquid and gas applications, plus fire sprinklers and specialty versions of all their piping products focused specifically on fire suppression systems. The company also provides total piping system design solutions, engineering and installation services, and training as well.

Victaulic has a proud history. "We just celebrated the 100th anniversary of our first patent," said their Chairman, President and CEO John F. Malloy. That patent was for the world's first grooved mechanical bolted coupling and their most iconic product, the Victaulic coupling, and was filed on April 4, 1919. The Victaulic coupling is a simple and nearly foolproof system for joining pipes together, and was invented by a British soldier, Lieutenant Ernest Tribe of the Royal Engineers, along with Dr. Henry Selby Hele-Shaw, an Edison-esque inventor. It led to the founding of the company in the U.K. in 1919, and the Victaulic coupling remains one of the company's most widely-used products today.

Victaulic couplings in use at the Newport Gas Company in the UK, circa 1927

Of course, Victaulic has added many products to their portfolio since then. Their many piping system solutions have spread throughout the industrial and commercial construction worlds over those decades, and are now used widely in large utility applications, oil and gas systems, skyscrapers and stadiums. Their systems have a long-standing history of playing an integral part of huge construction projects like the Hoover Dam, and they played an instrumental role in providing fuel to the troops during WWII.

"We have over one billion products installed globally," said Luftig. "While our products remain in great demand in the construction industry, they’ve also gained a broad fascination and following in atypical applications." There's a steampunk mystique to them that's driven popularity for non-industrial uses. "You’ll find bars all over the world using our products for their tap systems – they like the look of them," explained Luftig. "There's a certain industrial artistic perspective helping us there."

Having those popular legacy products is a big plus, but the company doesn't see them as the whole key to either their past or future success. Regarding the importance of the 100th anniversary celebration, Malloy said, "One question we asked ourselves is, ‘Who should this be meaningful to?’ Our answer was, first, our customers. It's up to us to earn their loyalty every single day. So we’re constantly aiming to exceed customer and industry expectations. Plus, we depend on our customers to help us drive new innovations."

Victaulic customers have always been able to stand on the company's commitment to quality and... [+] excellence.

Employees are the second part of the answer. "We have many, many second and third generation employees in particular, and want to recognize their efforts and those of our retirees," commented Malloy. "Our employees have crafted unconventional solutions and continue to inspire and guide the organization's success."

That innovation piece is one thing the company is relying on for its future. "Innovation is what keeps us still relevant," Malloy said. We now hold over 2,000 patents, and we’re adding about 100 every year." Luftig agreed. "We’ve quadrupled our patents in each of the past two decades," he added.

They don't see that slowing down any time soon. "An engineer installing the Victaulic piping system in a Boeing 747 SuperTanker (a plane designed to fight wildfires) told me, ‘This is like Legos for engineers! There are all kinds of other unique uses like this one that I haven't realized,’" said Luftig.

Victaulic offers virtual design and construction software solutions for the commercial, industrial... [+] and pipeline construction industries.

Technology and artificial intelligence are fundamentally changing the manufacturing industry, with human and robotic collaboration being at the forefront. "Manufacturing technology is changing too," Malloy said. "That's as exciting as the business itself. We’re using robots more and more in our finishing processes, for example, and we have new optics technology to ‘see’ the chemistry of a casting." He sees that as one advantage for Victaulic in the industry-wide problem of hiring. "Particularly for young people, we think we have an edge in setting up a predictable future," he said.

Investment is another part of the company's strategy for the future. Here, they see being a private company as an advantage. "We have an ability to focus on the long term, not just on the next quarter or a particular set of financials," said Malloy. Luftig added, "We’ve committed to increase the size of Victaulic's global manufacturing footprint by 43%, growing our capacity to better serve our customers for years to come.

"We’re a construction productivity company," Luftig said. "We continue to invest and bring value to owners, engineers and contractors within the construction industry. But at the end of the day, it comes down to the customer making a decision based on trust. It comes down to the people behind the products – to human interaction.

"We’re a ‘100-year-new’ company," he explained. "We have 4,250 people servicing customers in 128 countries around the world, but we think and act nimble. Large public companies can't respond to customer needs in real time. We focus on our customers and on doing what's right."

"We expect to be here for a long time to come," added Malloy.

This article has been updated with some minor edits for clarity and correctness.