U. S. Pipe
The United States Pipe and Foundry Company LLC is the largest American producer of ductile iron pipes and fittings for the utility and industrial market. The company is owned by Wynnchurch Capital of Chicago, Illinois and operates a Bessemer Pipe Plant as well as manufacturing facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Burlington, New Jersey; and Union City, California from its headquarters office in the Chase Corporate Center in Riverchase.
U. S. Pipe was formed in 1899 as the United States Cast Iron Pipe and Foundry Company out of the merger of 12 companies and 14 plants located in 8 states, including the south's first pit cast plant built in 1882 in Chattanooga (former David Giles Company). The "Cast Iron" portion of the name was dropped in 1929. The headquarters of the new company was located at the Burlington, New Jersey plant.
Operations at all U.S. Pipe plants used the pit cast method until 1921. At that time U.S. Pipe purchased the rights to a new casting process from a Brazilian named Dimitri Sensaud deLavaud. This centrifugal cast process (the deLavaud process) would revolutionize the pipe industry and place U.S. Pipe squarley in the lead as the major pipe manufacturer in the world. The first plant to use the new process was the North Birmingham Plant. With the first technology for mass production of iron pipe, U.S. Pipe negotiated profitable licensing arrangements with other pipe manufacturers such as American Cast Iron Pipe Company (ACIPCO), Kubota of Japan, and Buderus of Germany.
During World War II the factory was re-tooled in order to supply artillery shells and other armaments to the U. S. Military.
In 1952 U. S. Pipe purchased the Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Company. A year later, the combined company relocated its headquarters from Burlington, New Jersey to new offices at 3300 1st Avenue North in Birmingham.
In the 1960s financier Harry Figgie initiated a hostile takeover of U. S. Pipe. Tampa, Florida-based Jim Walter Corporation submitted a friendly counter-offer and folded U. S. Pipe into its industrial holdings (known since 1988 as Walter Industries) in 1969. In 1971 to company closed down Sloss Furnaces and donated the plant to Birmingham for use as a museum of industry. Walter Industries was bought by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Company (KKR) in 1991, leaving only the Walter Energy division as a stand-alone company.
In 2004 the company settled a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against black employees. Two years later it changed some workplace policies after protest from the United Steelworkers, which represents the factory's work force.
In 2005 Walter Industries acquired Mueller Water Products for $1.9 billion and moved U. S. Pipe under that division. Walter spun off the Mueller Water Products division as a separate publicly-held company in December 2006. That same year U. S. Pipe announced plans to construct a new $45 million automated pipe plant, adjacent to its Bessemer plant. The City of Birmingham and Jefferson County pledged to support construction of the new plant with public incentives.
In March 2010 the company ceased operations at its North Birmingham plant (the former Dimmick Pipe Company), which it had operated since 1911. WynnChurch Capital acquired the company from Mueller in March 2012. The company sold its former headquarters building on 1st Avenue North that year and relocated to Hoover in 2013.
- U. S. Pipe History at USPipe.com
- Hubbard, Russell (September 8, 2006) "U.S. Pipe considered China for new plant before coming home." The Birmingham News
- Underwood, Jerry (February 3, 2010) "U.S. Pipe and Foundry plant in North Birmingham closing." The Birmingham News
- Poe, Ryan (May 10, 2013) "U.S. Pipe to move headquarters to Hoover." Birmingham Business Journal