Founded more than 30 years ago, Brimar Industries Inc. has grown into a foremost source of pipe markers, valve tags and safety signs as well as street signs, parking signs and mailing tabs.
Brimar sells through a national network of sales representatives, through a variety of e-commerce sites, and the “old fashioned” way via phone and fax. The company also hosts specialized websites, PipeMarker.com and SafetySign.com.
We recently interviewed R. Mery Jimenez, product development director for Brimar to find out more:
PHC News: Let’s start first by telling us about the history of the company. What led your president, Brian D. Costello, to start the company? What types of products or customer services did Mr. Costello see a need for that other competitors weren’t providing?
R. Mery Jimenez: Brimar Industries, Inc. was founded by Brian in 1988 in Long Island City, Queens. Originally established as a tristate area distributor of pipe, valve and equipment markers, Brimar quickly realized in 1989 that we would need to figure out how to manufacture products to meet the demands of its customer base — this includes cheaper prices and faster lead times.
Manufacturing started up in phases with a lot of challenges, not the least of which was needing more space and manpower. As a result, a decision was made to move to New Jersey.
In 1991 Brimar relocated to a Garfield, New Jersey building with its 10 employees and rented what seemed to be a huge 8,000-square-foot space on the second floor. Once Brimar settled into the Garfield location, the business grew exponentially. Brimar began to market its products nationwide, and three short years later, the company needed more space and more people — requiring another move into a new 20,000-square-foot-space within the same building.
PHC News: I think our PHCP readers are likely most interested in the company’s PipeMarker.com. Can you please tell us what led the company to create this division?
Jimenez: We started as distributors of similar products, but our vendors were unable to provide us with products at competitive prices and fast lead times. It led us to start manufacturing our own products. Over the years, we have become experts at manufacturing high-quality pipe markers, valve tags, and equipment identification nameplates, eventually dedicating a website specific to this purpose — thus, the birth of PipeMarker.com.
PHC News: We understand the value of basic pipe and valves markers that clearly identify operations. But we’re curious about the process to order custom markers. Can you walk us through this process?
Jimenez: There are mechanical and plumbing specifications followed by the industry, and these specs define the identification materials required for the proper identification of equipment and piping in any job.
The specifications will define the required legends, colors, equipment nameplates, valve tags, and stencils among many other products required. Some facilities have their own color schemes, legends on the pipe label are either spelled out or abbreviated, markers might need to include working pressures, fluid temperatures, be bilingual, or include pictograms.
All these variables made customizing products extremely necessary for customers, and we made the customizing options accessible to them in PipeMarker.com
PHC News: In terms of jobsite safety, Brimar also has its SafetySign.com division. What can you tell us about this division?
Jimenez: In 1994, Brimar developed and began to manufacture safety, parking, and traffic signs. Sales were limited to mostly local contractors due to limited funds for a sustainable national marketing campaign. However, as fate would have it, the internet came along. Brimar was quick to acquire a key domain name, SafetySign.com. Through foresight, and with trial and error, Brimar became one of the early pioneers of selling and marketing products on the internet.
SafetySign.com enjoys a strong national reputation for fast delivery of high-quality durable signs and labels that can be found in all types of facilities from Alaska to Florida — and that includes the hundreds of “Restricted Area” signs on the fence that surrounds the White House in Washington, D.C.
PHC News: Was there any particular Brimar product that saw an increase in interest and sales as a result of the pandemic?
Jimenez: Yes, several product lines within our SafetySign.com division saw both. We started developing floor, window and sidewalk signs as soon as customers started requesting them back in April 2020.
First, many facilities required signage promoting hand-washing and social distancing, along with signs identifying working/entrance protocols. A few weeks later, facemasks and occupancy requirements came out.
As a response to these pandemic-related requirements, we launched new products and new materials — at a faster turnaround — to meet our customers’ needs. We count ourselves very fortunate indeed to remain in business all throughout the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic.
PHC News: How have various ANSI/ASME standards changed and how have they impacted the products Brimar sells?
Jimenez: The standard we follow, ANSI/ASME A13.1, has had two major changes within the last 20 years. The first change, which happened in 2007, required us to adapt new color combinations to our pipe markers — that was the biggest and more impactful change, and is still affecting us today.
The new fluid definitions and color schemes added to the standard changed from being four to 10. It resulted in keeping a larger list of stock products, some available in multiple color combinations. It also increased inquiries from customers seeking guidance on which colors to use, requirements for their existing pipe markings, among others.
PHC News: Finally, we picked up this quote from Brian Costello as the company marked 25 years back in 2013:
“We’ve promised our customers the same thing for the last 25 years: Whatever you need, whenever you need it, Brimar will get it done! Through our focus on excellent customer service, fast shipping, and competitive pricing, we’ve been able to meet our customers’ needs and grow into the industry leader that we are today. As Brimar Industries continues to grow, we will continue to put our customers first and offer the highest quality products for all of their needs.”
We’re sure that overall philosophy hasn’t changed, but what is different about the company and its products and customer service since the occasion of your 25th anniversary?
Jimenez: Brimar still maintains the same philosophy of “Whatever you need, whenever you need it …”. Because of it we have grown much since our 25th anniversary. We endeavor to meet, and even anticipate, our customers’ needs — all while maintaining competitive prices and offering a large selection of products.
A huge part our growth comes from our loyal customer base. Fifty percent of our customers are repeat business, and we believe that our high product quality, competitive pricing and excellent services are the main reason they keep coming back.