Jim Mortell, president of Premier-Pipe USA, refuses to follow what works for other businesses. To him, success in his industry requires an approach unique only to his company.    

That must be a good philosophy, considering Mortell’s company recently reached a milestone, as Premier-Pipe USA recently announced the completion of its 10 millionth ft of installed pipe liner. The installation was completed in mid-March during a relining job in Arlington, Va., just as the company was preparing to celebrate its 15-year anniversary.  

Premier-Pipe USA is a cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) relining company based in the city of Eden Prairie, near Minneapolis, Minn. Mortell was first inspired to enter the pipe industry after his father and grandfather worked in similar fields. Earlier in his career, he became familiar with the system of pipe relining. Through a colleague, he came across a manhole-to-manhole pipe relining concept used in the United Kingdom by Simon Baylis of Premier Pipe U.K., and became intrigued with the idea of bringing a similar, high-quality system to relining in the United States. In 1997, Mortell started Premier-Pipe USA using that very system, referred to as the CIPP water inversion method.  

Today, the company contracts four different installers for its product: Am-Liner East, Insight Pipe Contracting L. P., Michels Pipe Services and the City of Minneapolis. The Virginia-based Am-Liner East has been installing Premier-Pipe’s product since 1998 and performed the recent install of the 10 millionth ft.
“To us, it’s a verification of who we are and how far we’ve come,” Mortell said. “It tells us that we’re really doing something right.”

Mortell is particularly proud of the fact that his company strives for excellence in producing quality products. He endorses quality in all aspects of the company as the backbone of its success.

“I think to succeed in this business, you need quality installers,” Mortell said.  “You cannot chase what works well for other people and their lining process. You have to do what works for you. I think we’ve created a great partnership with all our installers and suppliers.”

The Install Process


The recent installation of the 10 millionth ft in March was for a 350-ft manhole-to-manhole relining project in Arlington with an 8-in. diameter liner that included 10 service connections.

“It is quite an accomplishment for our company, as well as for the Premier product,” said Mel Willett, vice president of Am-Liner East. “Like Premier-Pipe, we are very quality-driven and it’s really an honor for the group.”  

The installation was completed using an air inversion and steam curing process, typically used for installation of smaller diameter Premier-Pipe products. The liner is made of polyester felt with a coating of polyurethane on the outside and impregnated with a polyester liquid resin. Each liner is manufactured by Premier-Pipe to specifically fit the dimensions of the damaged pipe to be lined.

The lead end of the liner is essentially turned inside out for a required length and attached to an inversion device above the sewer manhole. Air or water (in this case, air) is then induced into the section where the liner was turned inside out, thus causing the liner to invert through the defective host pipeline. When the installation is complete, steam or water (in this case, steam) is circulated through a mobile boiler to raise the temperature of the liner and achieve the thermoset cure of the resin.

Being on-hand for the accomplishment was nothing new to Am-Liner East, as the company was also involved in the install of Premier-Pipe’s 1 millionth ft of liner nearly 10 years ago.

“It’s really phenomenal that the Premier-Pipe group of installers have collectively been able to accomplish that amount of CIPP liner installations in the time we’ve been working with Premier-Pipe,” Willett said.

New Tech Liner


Premier-Pipe USA’s 10 millionth ft of installed liner isn’t the only big news for the company this year. In
addition to the significant install, the company has also announced the release of its new “tech liner.” The tech liner is an improved type of liner that has been in development exclusively by Premier-Pipe for over two years.     

Different from standard liner, the tech liner is made from a composite of fiberglass and woven felt. It is a CIPP liner installed through a “shooter,” or water inversion tube that can be used for gravity or pressure applications. According to Mortell, they are generally used in industrial applications where high internal pressure is of concern.

In reference to the tech liner, Mortell stressed that Premier-Pipe’s ability to produce high quality products different from other companies is what sets them apart. He said the fact that the tech liners are manufactured to fit the specifications of each individual installation, is just one more example of the company philosophy.  

“Every installer in the Premier-Pipe USA group had a say in how this liner was made,” he said. “This is a vital component of our group.”   

Going Forward


With the status of Premier-Pipe in a seemingly good position, Mortell reflected on the momentous 10 millionth ft and how his company has evolved from its beginning.

“A key was when we started, we geared our operations toward our policies,” he said. “People like our resin suppliers and felt suppliers really didn’t understand us. We purchased products and kept installers and suppliers at an arm’s reach. We quickly realized the need to form a close relationship with those people if we were to succeed.”

Mortell said forming those relationships is example of Premier-Pipe’s field install philosophy, or what they refer to as a “read and react” policy, which the company likes to abide by. He described it as identifying conditions in the field and reacting as a result of what needs to happen.

“These policies have saved us and our customers time and time again,” he said. “We are proud of ourselves, proud of our installers and of our customers who continue to use our products.”

Andrew Farr is an assistant editor for Trenchless Technology.   

See Discussion, Leave A Comment