Since its first trading day – March 1, 1970 – Pipelife (formerly Quality Plastics) has grown and evolved to be Ireland’s leading manufacturer and provider of plastic piping systems. Founded by Garry Horgan, who sadly passed away in 2019, the company’s innovative, market-changing product development, dogged tenacity through leaner times and excellent customer relations are qualities that have driven the past 50 years of business success; and will fuel the next 50 years.
From 1970 to the late ‘80s, Quality Plastics manufactured basic polyethylene pipe for the water supply, gas and electricity industries. But in the ‘90s they developed the Qual-Pex brand as a replacement for copper pipe in the plumbing sector. This was a game-changer. Since then, over two billion metres of Qual-Pex Pipe has been produced and distributed to over 30 countries worldwide.
In 2019, they introduced the next evolution of plumbing pipe to the Irish market – Qual-Pex Plus+ Easy-Lay Pipe. However, there have been some tough years. Dependent on the residential building sector, the crash hit the company badly. But their acquisition by Pipelife International in 2007 helped them weather the storm.
Timmy Mullins, Marketing Executive, said: “They saw the long-term potential in the Irish market and have invested millions in automating the existing processes; upgrading our facilities and our engineering skills – and that investment has continued to this day.”
RENEWABLE HEATING SYSTEMS
Recognising the movement away from oil and gas boilers towards more renewable types of heat sources Pipelife developed expertise in the design of heating systems to maximise the potential of Qual-PEX pipe and has recently expanded its design service to also include air-to-water heat pumps.
Selling exclusively through merchants, their service is tailored to making the supply of renewable products and services easy, professional and painless. Timmy explained: “In the future, we see ourselves moving from what we would traditionally have been – a pipe manufacturer – into a full-service provider for renewable heating technology: primarily air-to-water heat pumps, underfloor heating and low-temperature radiator systems.”
The company is determined to offer contractors and installers the skills, support and service they need to thrive in the renewable heating sector. “We opened a Renewables Training Centre in Cork in 2018 which has been a huge success,” said Timmy. “There’s a huge appetite for it. A lot of plumbers and installers wish to be trained in this relatively new technology, and we pride ourselves in taking the fear factor out of it.
“We provide in-depth, hands-on, down-to- earth training with plumbers to train them in heat pump operation installation and maintenance servicing.”
This month, Pipelife opens a new Renewables Training Centre at Mulhuddart, South Dublin, expanding this access to training to a much larger plumbing population. It’s part of a major expansion plan that includes a new sales distribution facility.
“The new sales distribution centre will radically improve our delivery service from the current three-day turnaround from time of order,” explained Timmy, “Now we can offer it in 24 hours. If people require it, they can have same-day delivery. So, if it is an emergency situation, the plumber can ring in their order in the morning, and they’ll have it by the afternoon.”
Pipelife strives to provide the industry with market-leading service and peace of mind.
“Two major things that we offer – that are not standard in the industry – are a 50- year guarantee on all our manufactured pipe products and extended warranties on all our traded products,” said Timmy. “We give full design indemnity insurance on all our designs for underfloor heating and heat pump systems. We also provide full electrical drawings and full layout drawings for the piping and manifold locations and settings. When you get
a job from us, everything is specified, and the contractor can talk to the actual designer. If any problem occurs after the home-owner takes possession of the house, we are still available.
“We’ve been around for 50 years, and we are willing to stand over the quality of our pipes to give a further 50-year assurance. We stand over the quality of our traded products because we only take in heat pumps and fittings from people we have vetted ourselves.
“Pipelife is committed to training and supplying the renewable heating sector as it expands.” Timmy concluded: “We want the industry to know we are willing to invest in their future as much as our own future.”
Ger Healy, Managing Director, said: “Our aim is to be the first person to call when contractors and installers have a new contract for a heat pump underfloor heating insulation.”
An official 50-year celebration takes place later this month in Cork and will be attended by representatives from the Pipelife International board along with members of the Horgan Family.