Perspectives on recent industry happenings.

No Insult Intended!

The reaction to the December article, “Replacing a Pressure Tank,” by Bruce Maki was loud and swift. Overall, people expressed concern that the article was intended as a “how-to” piece for water professionals penned by a mechanical engineer. After explaining to those I spoke with that the article simply was a matter-of-fact, step-by-step description of the man’s project, and that the biographical information was included to distinguish him from some Joe Homeowner, people generally said, “OK, I understand that now, but you could have explained that upfront and saved us all some angst. It came off as unprofessional.” I gladly accept that constructive criticism, as regular readers know the respect and adulation that we have for the hardworking professionals in our industry.

More specifically to the project itself, there were several readers who criticized the use of an emery cloth to remove oxidation from the contacts of the pressure switch. They pointed out that an emery cloth could easily damage the contacts, as it is too rough, and that using a crisp dollar bill would do the job without such a risk.

DRAGIN's Expansion into Geothermal

D.J. Quagliaroli and Carrie Collins Quagliaroli have announced the formation of their second drilling company, DRAGIN Geothermal Well Drilling Inc., with offices in Gilford, N.H., and Wareham, Mass.

In announcing the formation of the new company, which has already landed some impressive clients, D.J. Quagliaroli says that the dramatic increase in demand for “green” solutions is what led them to form DRAGIN Geothermal. “Businesses and residents alike are looking for ways to conserve on energy for both financial and environmental considerations,” he says. “The geothermal heating and cooling systems save energy, slash utility bills, reduce hot water costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce maintenance costs.”

Carrie Collins Quagliaroli, who serves as president of DRAGIN Drilling and fills the role of vice president of the new venture, says, “In our years of work in the environmental field, we continue to see increased interest in environmentally secure and cost-saving alternatives. With our investment in drilling technology, we saw that the geothermal option is a natural expansion for us. There is demonstrated need and everyone wins when people save money and save the environment.”

Geothermal heating, also referred to as green heat, earth-coupled heat, earth connection, geoexchange, geothermal heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, and water-source heat pumps, is an increasingly popular choice for heating and cooling, Quagliaroli notes, adding, “Its popularity is new, but the proven technology is as old as the earth itself.”

Geothermal systems are cost-efficient heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. Research from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shown that geothermal systems operate at 75 percent greater efficiency than oil furnaces, 48 percent greater efficiency than gas furnaces, and 40 percent more efficiently than air source heat pumps.

In winter, warmth is drawn from the earth through a series of pipes, called a loop, installed beneath the ground. A water solution circulating through this piping loop carries the earth’s natural warmth to a heat pump inside the building. This heat pump concentrates the earth’s thermal energy and transfers it to air circulated through interior ductwork to fill every space in a building.

In the summer, the process is reversed; heat is extracted from air inside the house and transferred to the earth by way of ground loop piping. The geothermal system also uses some of the heat extracted from the interior in the summer to provide hot water. More than 1 million geothermal systems have been installed in the United States as the technology’s popularity continues to rise. It is estimated that these systems have saved 8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, and reduced the amount of carbon dioxide by 5.8 million metric tons. Geothermal systems have also gained favor with the EPA and the Department of Energy in that they have earned those organizations’ Energy Star ratings.

DRAGIN Geothermal Well Drilling Inc. provides a full range of geothermal well drilling, loop system installation and heat pump installation services, including single well and double well open loop systems, closed loop u-bend systems, and standing column systems. Its team consists of certified geothermal well drillers, heat pump installers and HDPE pipe fusers, and they are accredited geothermal installers.

The Pay Conundrum

I agree completely with your column in the November issue (“To Get Better Help, Pay More,” by Jim Olsztynski). I once worked for a unionized electric utility company. It was said that the company had 250 applications for every job opening. The secret was union pay. Because it had so many applicants to choose from, the quality of its workers was excellent.

Unfortunately, with all those applications on file, they didn’t treat the employees too well. The company knew it could replace any employee easily. Whenever I hear that a company can’t find good workers, I know that it is just a matter of pay.

As much as I would like to offer better pay, we contractors also are faced with competition, too. The customer usually calls all the well drilling contractors in the area. Many customers per-ceive no difference in quality, most believe a well is just a hole in the ground, and we are forced to compete with price. I have not met a rich well contractor yet.

– Harris Cannon

Grundfos Buys Peerless Pump

Grundfos Group, headquartered in Denmark, has acquired Peerless Pump Co. Peerless is based in Indianapolis, and has five other North American facilities. With more than 400 employees and annual sales of $110 million, Peerless is Grundfos’ largest acquisition to date.

Carsten Bjerg, Grundfos CEO, comments, “Recently, we have focused on growing our business globally, especially in Eastern Europe, Asia and North America. The U.S. market has a significant growth potential and, seen in that perspective, the acquisition of Peerless is of great strategic importance to Grundfos. Combined with the continued expansion of our R&D facilities and production capacity in North America, this acquisition is crucial to strengthening our U.S market position.”

Currently, Grundfos’ sales in North America are $300 million. The U.S. pump market alone is estimated to be $6 billion. Grundfos expects to double its sales within a four-year period.

Soren Sorensen, chairman of the board of Grundfos in North America, says, “Grundfos has had a presence in the U.S. market since 1973, and over the last three years, we have made a series of major investments in North America to accelerate our growth. With the acquisition of Peerless, we extend our product range as well as our sales organization significantly. We expect a lot from this deal, and see great potential for globalization.”

Dean Douglas, president of Peerless, remarks, “We see Grundfos’ acquisition of Peerless as an extremely positive move for our customers as well as for the future security and continued development of our em-ployees, of Peerless Pump itself, and our worldwide sales network. The synergies between our organizations are significant, and will allow Peerless to accelerate the rapid growth we have enjoyed over the past few years.”