Preface and Acknowledgements to First Edition
The Piping Technology & Products historical project, in keeping with the spirit of PT&P, truly has been a team effort. As the project historian, I am deeply indebted to a number of people without whose support and participation this project could not have been accomplished. First, this book would not have been possible without the strong commitment of Piping Technology’s founder and president, Durga Agrawal. He selected Benjamin T. Rhodes, Vice President, to oversee the project. Ben Rhodes contributed to the project in a multitude of ways, always with patience and good cheer, and for that I am most appreciative. Also I want to express my gratitude to Jesse Porter who, while performing his regular duties at PT&P, took on the enormous responsibility for doing the formatting, layout, and design of this book. During the summer, R.K. Agrawal brought his insight and computer expertise to assist in the many planning sessions. Bill McDonald and the staff of the Accounting Department on Long Drive were very helpful during the research phase of the project. Finally, I want to thank all of the people of PT&P for their hospitality and support, and especially the individuals who agreed to be interviewed for this history. Their contributions proved invaluable to the writing of this book, and also will provide a permanent oral record of the history of the company.
In addition, there are several people outside of Piping Technology to whom I am indebted for their efforts on behalf of this project. Suzanne Mascola transcribed all of the oral history interviews in her usual professional and timely manner. Sethuraman Srinivasan, Jr. worked throughout the summer as the project research assistant. He surveyed PT&P’s vast photo collection and organized a catalog from which we selected the illustrations for this history. In addition, he helped assemble background information, developed photo essays, wrote captions, and provided many useful ideas for the book. Finally, I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Joseph A. Pratt, NEH-Cullen Professor of History and Business at the University of Houston. As the project director, he brought his expertise as a business historian and his editorial skills to help guide this study to its completion.
Preface and Acknowledgements to Second Edition
Dr. Durga Agrawal, founder and president of Piping Technology & Products, Inc. (PT&P), contacted me during 2008 to discuss writing an update to the original history of the company that I had completed in 1998. Over the years, I kept track of PT&P and thus was delighted to be asked to write a sequel about this very interesting and very successful Houston firm. As I began my research, I found a company that had grown in size and matured as an organization, but remained true to its mission and corporate ideals.
Several themes carry over from the first edition, including the strong emphasis on quality and testing of PT&P’s products. A major extension in those themes is found in the push for professionalization at the company. Not only did quality control still matter, but the emphasis was on attaining formal industry recognition and certification of the standards that PT&P met or exceeded. The company matured as a business in other areas including its use of computer technology, the development of its website to include features that made it an information resource for the piping industry, and steps to improve in plant safety. Thus, while history necessarily is about change over time, the changes at PT&P since 1998 have been contributing factors to the company’s successful expansion of its product line and production capabilities, and its consequent success in gaining new customers, competing in new areas for business, and in securing the largest projects in the history of the firm. PT&P grew from being a reliable provider of pipe hangers and pipe supports to a “one-stop-shop” for a wide variety of engineered products and services for the piping industry.
This new edition of PT&P’s history builds upon the first book originally published in 1998. The original six chapters have been slightly edited but contain essentially the same information about the first twenty years of the company’s history. The new edition has four additional chapters that examine the growth of PT&P as a business and its expansion into new product lines during its third decade. Chapter seven looks at the impact of PT&P’s acquisition of U. S. Bellows and the use of new technology as a tool for marketing and communicating with customers. Chapter eight explores the company’s entry into enhanced engineering services, opportunities in the merchant power plant arena, and the important acquisition of the Fronek Companies from Shaw Group. Chapter nine focuses on a maturing firm and the opportunities it provides for employees, certification of its quality control programs, and enhancement of plant safety. The final chapter provides an overview of the impact of the company’s growth in the industry and the subsequent opportunities the success of the firm presented to its founder, Durga Agrawal, as a business leader and in community service. The story of this company is a classic story of the American Dream coming to fruition, and it also is an excellent case study of the growth of a successful, small-business, fabricating company through the economic cycles of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Once again I am grateful to Dr. Durga Agrawal for his commitment to recording the history of Piping Technology & Products. Randy Bailey, Vice President, was very gracious in offering his time and support to talk about the company and the significance of its expansion over the past ten years. Helen Conol Villaruel, Agrawal’s executive assistant, helped in countless ways by providing documents and other printed information, and in scheduling oral history interviews. Dr. Ben Rhodes, the now retired former vice president, provided his expertise in a careful reading of the manuscript, and for his help I am deeply indebted. I also wish to express my gratitude to the people who made time in their busy schedules to participate in oral history interviews, without which this project could not be completed. Their names appear in the Note on Sources at the end of this book. Suzanne Mascola transcribed the interviews, Aarati Agrawal contributed several ideas for the manuscript, and my long time associate, Kimberly Youngblood, provided research and editing assistance throughout the project. Finally, to all the people of PT&P— my thanks for your gracious hospitality and support for this history project.