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As a relatively new company, K. Regan Mechanical (founded in 2006) felt it needed a competitive edge to open doors to new business in the local plumbing market.
“We needed a way to be smarter than the competition—to work faster and to be more cost competitive,” said Keith Regan, owner of the Chelmsford, Mass. company. The company specializes in commercial work, such as apartments, condominiums, hotels, hospitals and college dormitories.
“This is a price-driven business, and as a start-up company back then, we knew we had to be aggressive in the pricing area without sacrificing quality,” Regan continued.
Regan’s competitive edge came in the form of FlowGuard Gold and Corzan pipe and fittings made from CPVC compounds from The Lubrizol Corporation.
“Ever since we opened our doors, we have used FlowGuard Gold plumbing systems almost exclusively, as code permits,” Regan said. “These products allow us to offer more competitive pricing, and it’s amazing how much we can get installed in a small amount of time as a result of the fast and easy joining method.”
Regan, a 13-year plumbing veteran, has had more than his fair share of experience using piping materials other than CPVC, but found that nothing else offered the same advantages.
“It was hard to estimate jobs and be competitive, as well as profitable, with copper,” Regan said. “Copper pricing is too erratic. Plus, many applications require copper pipe to be insulated, whereas the thermal conductivity advantages of FlowGuard Gold pipe often allow for the insulation to be valued engineered out of the job for an additional cost savings.”
Regan had also tried using PEX after hearing claims that it could help reduce installation time. “I saw absolutely no time savings using PEX,” he said. “In comparison, the FlowGuard Gold product is so much faster and easier to use. My guys caught on real quick to the solvent cement joining process and found it to be highly reliable. In addition, we preferred the straight, professional appearance of CPVC pipe.”
As a result of these benefits, Regan recommended that FlowGuard Gold and larger-diameter Corzan CPVC pipe and fittings be used at the local Hilton Garden Inn project being constructed in Ft. Devens, near Boston. The project was noteworthy inasmuch as it was one of the first hospitality projects in the state to use pre-built bathrooms, which were completely constructed and plumbed offsite in a factory and shipped to the jobsite for final hook-up.
Eggrock Modular Solutions was the manufacturer of the factory-built bathrooms. The “bathroom in a box” concept is marketed primarily for projects involving a large number of bathrooms, such as military barracks, college dorms and hotels. By completing the bathrooms offsite, construction on other parts of the project can continue without interference by the contractors working on the individual pods. Promised benefits of pre-fabrication include consistent designs across multiple project locations, as well as an accelerated construction schedule and, typically, overall lower construction and installation costs.
For the Hilton Garden Inn in Ft. Devens, all of the Eggrock modular bathrooms were plumbed with FlowGuard Gold CPVC systems. Tappings that extended out from the top of the individual units were joined to FlowGuard Gold pipe and fittings that ran throughout the rest of the building and eventually transitioned to larger-diameter Corzan CPVC pipe and fittings that were used for the mains. With the exception of the commercial kitchen and mechanical room that were required by Massachusetts code to be plumbed in copper, the entire facility was plumbed using Lubrizol CPVC.
“Copper was never even considered for the Hilton Garden Inn project because of its higher cost and time-intensive installation process,” Regan said. “Even if we wanted to consider PEX in this five-story installation, we could not use it because the Massachusetts code restricts the use of PEX piping to three stories. Although the Eggrock units could have been plumbed separately with PEX, the additional cost for the transition fittings to go from PEX to CPVC made that option cost-prohibitive. Plus, PEX pipe in diameters greater than 1inch loses all flexibility and, therefore, any installation benefits that some may tout are gone.”
Another cost consideration was that the FlowGuard pipe could be hung using fewer supports, which added to the cost and labor savings.
“We would have used more supports had flexible PE-X piping been used in an effort to try to make it look better,” Regan said. “Plus, there was the aggressive construction schedule that called for completion of the 118-unit project only seven months after ground was broken. That made the decision of going with CPVC even easier, since both the FlowGuard Gold and Corzan pipe and fittings could be installed quickly.”
Regan is aware that there are other brands of CPVC. But for the Hilton Garden Inn, as well as all the other commercial projects for which his company specifies CPVC, he remains loyal to the FlowGuard Gold and Corzan brands.
“There’s a comfort level that I have with the brands,” Regan said. “It’s not just about the product, but also what’s behind the product, like the service and training we get. That’s important. Even if there was a less expensive alternative, I wouldn’t switch. FlowGuard Gold, as well as Corzan, pipe and fittings are a good fit for my business.”