When Perma-Liner Industries came on to the trenchless scene in 1999, the primary focus of the industry concentrated on relining aging, deteriorating sewer pipes. Perma-Liner’s focus was a little different: the laterals.
In the early days of trenchless, lateral rehabilitation had been largely ignored in sewer rehab — even though the laterals have been found to cause a significant amount of the I/I. Perma-Liner aimed to change that way of thinking.
Twenty years later, Clearwater, Florida-based Perma-Liner continues to push the envelope when it comes to lateral and pipeline rehabilitation in the competitive cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) trenchless world. Today, the company is a leading supplier of trenchless rehabilitation methods for lateral, sectional, mainline and manhole repairs and has installed millions of feet of its trenchless lateral liner solutions across North America.
Innovation and customer satisfaction remain critical components to the company’s long-term success, says company founder Jerry D’Hulster, a former pipelining contractor who grew up in a family-run business that serviced the pipeline rehabilitation industry.
“While 20 years as a cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) rehabilitation company is a notable accomplishment, what continues to make Perma-Liner outstanding is the dedicated staff and customers,” says D’Hulster. “Perma-Liner is proud of the innovation and service provided since Day 1 and continues to advance CIPP technology and products. Perma-Liner is grateful to our employees and customers who have made us the leader in pipeline rehabilitation.”
Perma-Liner’s initial product offerings included inversion and “push-in-place” installation practices. In years since, the company developed the “turn-key” trailer and box truck systems, steam cure and hot water cure systems, as well as other advanced CIPP technology. The Perma-Liner manufacturing and distribution footprint has grown from an 800-sq ft manufacturing facility to one that is 60,000 sq ft with four distribution locations in North America.
Product offerings have expanded and evolved to include: Perma-Lateral Air Inversion Lining, Perma-Liner Sectional Repair, Perma-Main Manhole to Manhole Lining, Perma-Lateral Pull-In-Place Lining, Perma-Liner Vertical Connection Lining, Perma-Patch Lateral Spot Repair and its latest development, UV LED technology for both the laterals and main lines.
In February 1999, Perma-Liner trained and certified its first installer; today, the company has trained and certified more than 4,000 installers throughout the world. The Perma-Liner team has grown to more than 55 members, which includes engineering, chemistry, manufacturing, operations, sales, marketing, accounting and technical training staff.
“The personnel and certified installer growth rose from the evolution of our product and equipment catalog. As an innovative company within the industry, we constantly needed to stay ahead to advance the industry, grow our technology and expand on new products and equipment,” says D’Hulster.
But why focus on the laterals and what fueled that direction? According to D’Hulster it was this: In the late 1990s, there was a study conducted on aging residential sanitary sewer laterals. At the time, the focus was sanitary municipal sewer collection pipes. Research proved there was more footage of residential sanitary sewer pipe on an average city block vs. municipal sanitary sewer collection pipes. Other factors taken into consideration were the number of plumbing and drain cleaning company’s vs. municipal contractors; residential homeowners’ decision-making vs. municipal bid process time; profitability and niche product for residential plumbing and drain cleaning contractors.”
Perma-Liner was the first relining company to achieve NSF approval, which allowed for CIPP to be used on the plumbing side for plumbing code approvals. The business continues following a strict in-house, quality-assurance program that coincided with achieving NSF approval. This certification and approval were critical pieces to Perma-Liner’s success and forward progress.
The early success of Perma-Liner reached a critical intersection with the challenging economic times in 2008. With a collapsing economy and many companies closing nationwide, Perma-Liner took a gamble, and it paid off. Perma-Liner changed the game and took their business on the road for a nationwide roadshow. The company brought the technology to the customers. No one in the industry was doing a “U.S. Tour” so Perma-Liner was able to capitalize when others were struggling.
Throughout the multi-city tour, live outdoor demonstrations on Perma-Patch, Perma-Lateral, Lateral Pull-In-Place, InnerSeal, Sectional Point Repair, and Perma-Main were displayed while also providing educational sessions on the company’s sales, marketing, technical support and product approval departments. \
Coming off the success of the U.S. Tours, Perma-Liner expanded to markets where it saw the biggest need by opening facilities in Orange, California (2009), Plainfield, Illinois (2015) and New Castle, Delaware (2016), and Bow, New Hampshire (2019), while also expanding their Clearwater, Florida facility. With the brand being represented across the country, Perma-Liner brought its solutions to regional markets by creating these local distribution centers that allowed for the ease of customer purchasing, pick-up and demonstrations.
Then came the deal in 2013 that catapulted Perma-Liner to another level. Triwater Holdings, a Chicago-based water treatment and infrastructure company backed by Bolder Capital LLC, announced in January 2013, that it had completed significant investments in LMK Technologies and Perma-Liner Industries — two market-leading companies for trenchless rehabilitation of water and sewer infrastructure — placing them under Triwater’s umbrella.
Once fierce rivals, Perma-Liner and LMK became integral parts of Triwater’s Waterline Renewal Technologies (WRT) division; the companies were later joined by AP/M Permaform.
“Perma-Liner was conceived and developed by entrepreneurship,” says D’Hulster. “The Triwater Holdings acquisition of Perma-Liner in 2013 provided support to develop new products, services and processes inside of an existing organization to create value and generate new revenue growth through thought and action.”
Today, D’Hulster serves as the chief commercial officer for Triwater Holdings’ WRT Division.
“As WRT looks toward the future of this trenchless industry, the Perma-Liner brand is positioned to be a leading solutions provider for years to come,” said WRT president Matt Fishbune. “The demand and adoption rate for trenchless solutions continues to grow because of the world’s rapidly deteriorating water and sewer infrastructure problems. The momentum behind the Perma-Liner brand is contagious, and we are creating a growth platform with WRT where we provide greater value together. It is shown every day in our strong customer base, successful integration efforts, exceptional performance and our ever-growing, valued customer base.”
With 20 years of experience under Perma-Liner’s belt as a manufacturer, the business is looking to make the next 20 years even greater by continuing to innovate and providing valued solutions, D’Hulster says.