American Cast Iron Pipe Company
- This article is about the manufacturer, for the neighborhood, see Acipco-Finley.
The American Cast Iron Pipe Company (ACIPCO) is a Birmingham-based manufacturer of ductile cast iron pipe, electric-resistance steel pipe, spiral-welded steel pipe, fire hydrants, pumps, large valves and other industrial products. The company, with over 3,000 employees, is headquartered at 1501 31st Avenue North. Van Richey is president and CEO.
The company was founded by John Joseph Eagan and incorporated on October 9, 1905 with $105,000 capital and produced its first pipe on May 12 of the following year. By November it employed 209 people and had shipped 6,380 tons of pipe. The company was a pioneer in producing large-diameter iron pipes and concrete-lined pipe products using centrifugal casting methods. Later innovations included the ability to cast pipe in 16-foot lengths, production of small diameter cast iron pressure pipe, and the development of new prefabricated joints to simplify installation.
By 1912 ACIPCO was also an innovator in improving workers' welfare. An employee bathhouse with hot and cold running water opened on May 8 of that year. The following February a worker safety department was created, and the company sponsored construction of a YMCA branch in the community which opened on December 4, 1913.
James McWane took over as president of ACIPCO in 1915. In November of that year the company began providing full medical coverage to all employees and their families. At the same time the workday was reduced to nine hours and a savings bank was founded. In 1916 a system of annual employee bonuses was instituted and dental coverage was added to the medical insurance benefit. The ACIPCO Mutual Benefit Association was created in October and workers were granted sick leave and a full week of vacation time. The company's pension plan took effect on January 1, 1917. A commissary was built and community garden plots were laid out that year to help bolster food security.
In 1919 ACIPCO acquired the Beggs Pipe Foundry, which it used mainly to experiment with new products and methods. Eagan resumed the presidency in 1921 following a dispute with McWane.
Eagan left the company to his employees after his death in 1924 and W. D. Moore succeeded him as president. A third shift was added to allow for continuous production in 1927. Public spending on infrastructure helped the manufacturer survive the Great Depression and the company began operating a cannery to preserve fruits and vegetables. During World War II the company installed electric arc furnaces and began manufacturing steel parts for warships, planes and tanks. From 1943 until the war's end, the plant produced 50,000 airplane engine cylinders per month. A ladies' restroom was installed at the plant for female wartime workers. ACIPCO cast the memorial box placed behind the cornerstone of the new Birmingham City Hall in 1950 and presented it as a gift to the city.
During the 1960s the company added water valves, gaskets and hydrants to its product line. It acquired the Waterous Company of Minnesota in the 1980s to expand its market share in that segment and began producing electrically welded steel pipe from a new plant in Birmingham. In 1972 ACIPCO invested more than $1 million in pollution reducing technology by installing a new melting system with the world's largest cupola of its kind and switching from sand-spun casting to deLavaud metal molds. The company shipped its last gray-iron pipe in 1978, completing the switch to ductile iron. Beginning in 1987 the plant was serviced directly by the Birmingham Southern Railroad.
In 1990 ACIPCO purchased adjacent land, tripling the size of the plant property. During the decade it re-opened its on-site scrap recycling facility, which it had first initiated in 1917. In 1993 the company garnered its first recognition in Fortune magazine as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work for in America". In 1994 it was the first North American ductile iron pipe manufacturer to be ISO 9000 certified. In 2000 the company engineered a new single-electrode DC furnace for melting iron.
The company operates divisions in Birmingham as well as Beaumont, Texas; Columbia, South Carolina; and St Paul, Minnesota. In 2019 ACIPCO founded American Innovation LLP to carry out research and development for its American Flow Control valve and hydrant division in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
- John Eagan, 1905-1915
- James McWane, 1915-1921
- John Eagan, 1921-1924
- W. D. Moore, 1924-1946
- C. D. Barr, 1946-1952
- C. O. Hodges, 1952-1955
- S. D. Moxley, 1955-1963
- Kenneth Daniel, 1963-1978
- Carl Farlow, 1978-1985
- Paul Green, 1985-1989
- Van Richey, 1989-present
- Chapman, L. (2005) ACIPCO The Golden Rule at Work Since 1905.
- Rebman, Stephanie (May 13, 2019) "Birmingham manufacturer forms subsidiary, plans $9M HQ." Birmingham Business Journal
- American Cast Iron Pipe Company website