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The fitness tracker. One of the most recent iterations of the Internet in the form of convenience. A long-shot from the Internet of 1988 when concepts such as viruses, chat protocols, and a world wide web were newly discovered. Yet, that is the Internet that led to the epiphany of improved efficiency, greater profitability for the distribution channel, and the founding of Legend Valve Company.
“Legend was founded in August of 1988 by J. Robb Baubie, Nancy Spaeth and me,” said David Hickman, the company’s current president and CEO. “Business was changing and we saw an opportunity to create a company using a model that allowed us to use American ingenuity to design, develop and patent innovative products for the U.S. plumbing and heating industry while taking advantage of world class manufacturing on a global scale.”
Hickman continued, “The computerization of businesses and more sophisticated software development was poised to ensure greater profitability of the distribution channel through greater efficiencies. The antiquated model of buy large and then negotiate extended terms in order to pay for it was going away. Turn and earn was beginning its early stages of development. So, Legend began to focus on the introduction of services that would reduce our customers’ inventories without sacrificing their serviceability while decreasing transaction costs at the same time. We were determined to set the standard for service in our industry.”
Nearly three decades later, Legend remains tuned into business and industry trends in order to follow through on its promise to customers of cutting-edge service and offerings. Recently, Hickman spoke to Plumbing Engineer about its most recent venture in tubing and its plans for the coming year.
PE: Can you start by sharing with our readers who the Legend customer is, and how they are serviced?
DH: Our target customer is the wholesale distributor. But, our ultimate customer is the professional contractor. Legend has over 9600 Skus specifically designed for the plumbing, heating, industrial and commercial markets. Those products are shipped from two strategically located distribution centers that enable us to service in excess of 96 percent of the population in three days or less.
PE: Outside of the day-to-day, how does Legend stay active in the industry?
DH: Our engineers participate in ASSE working groups, helping in the refinement and development of various code initiatives. We are currently members in ASA, PPI, ASHRAE, RPA, and PHCC.
Legend is also a strong advocate for training. We conduct several annual training seminars, which we refer to as “Legend University” for our contractor and wholesaler customers and of course, salespeople. We also conduct plumbing code classes for our Michigan-based plumbers.
We are and always have been a strong supporter of our industry. As an example, we committed a team of experts to help educate the industry on the lead free laws through countless seminars in which we were guest speakers. In addition, we also committed one of our engineers and a certified master plumber, who is employed as one of our technical advisors, to participate in the lead free consortium along with a handful of other industry professionals. The panel had a significant impact on educating our industry on the new requirement.
PE: Recently, Legend introduced HyperPure PE-RT. Can you talk about this offering?
DH: Legend has been developing the foundation in order to introduce our tubing enterprise for several years now. We had evaluated several different options before deciding on the patented Dow Hypertherm 2399 resin, or PE-RT as it is better known. This is the resin we use to make HyperPure water tube. Dow 2399 is the latest evolution in polyethylene technology and we believe this is the future for potable systems in the U.S. market.
HyperPure tubing is a type of bimodal PE-RT that weaves or entangles much longer PE chains together without permanent alteration. This entanglement of the bimodal PE molecules in PE-RT allows for flexibility at a higher strength than most PEX tubing while also being able to take advantage of many thermoplastic properties such as recyclability and use with fusion connection systems.
Legend’s newest division, American Legend Manufacturing, is extruding the pipe in our Auburn Hills, Michigan campus for our OEM customers and our branded pipe under the Legend brand. Our HyperPure tubing is being manufactured in the U.S., and the resin is produced by the Dow Chemical Company in their Texas plant. So, from cradle to grave, this product is made in the U.S. by Americans.
PE: What are the notable highlights of the offering that you believe will resonate with the industry?
DH: First, it is important to note that HyperPure can be used anywhere PEX is used within local codes. In addition, HyperPure PE-RT does not have the memory of PEX, so it has a greater propensity to lie flat instead of returning to its original shape. This is especially important for contractors buying the tubing in coils. The tubing will be easier to work with for our contractor customers.
Additionally, HyperPure does not require any special tools and will work with almost every fitting system on the market. As more fusible options become available, HyperPure also has the ability to be fused unlike many competing products. This process creates a continuous piping system without the potential for leak paths and gives the contractor another labor saving option.
PE: There are also green highlights of the new offering. Can you detail those?
DH: HyperPure PE-RT is the first 100 percent recyclable potable tubing on the market since copper. Therefore, you should never find HyperPure in a landfill. There are no additional additives or processes, such as radiating, or the use of chemicals, used to make HyperPure. It is pure. There is no need to flush the system, which saves precious water, and there will never be a foul taste or odor associated with the tubing. These characteristics will become increasingly important in the future and will help to set a new standard for potable tubing.
PE: What is on the horizon for Legend in 2016?
DH: Legend has always been at the forefront of new innovations whether it be products, services or otherwise. Our PE-RT initiative is simply the most recent example of our ongoing commitment to innovation. There are many new exciting product developments that will be introduced shortly that are designed to integrate with our new potable initiative and more.
We are constantly investing in our operations, our infrastructure and our capabilities. We have many strategic investments slated for 2016 ranging from e-commerce, web initiatives, service enhancements and technology improvements. Our investments in our extrusion operations will continue at an aggressive pace while we continue to invest heavily in our ability to be the low cost provider to our customers. Our goal is to add unparalleled value to the supply chain by setting the standard for quality and service.