Cylinder valve availability has been stretched this year leading to delays in supply chains. To provide an insight into valve availability, we contacted Tekno Valves North America which has been able to meet customer needs with ‘higher than ever stock levels’. The Mandeville, Louisiana-based company is experiencing a year of growth led by its specialty gas and acetylene valves.
Any recent developments with Tekno Valves, and how has the company marked its 50th anniversary?
Justin Guitreau, Executive Vice-President of Tekno Valves North America (JG): Tekno Valves is proud to celebrate its 50-year anniversary this year. We have several large projects we are unveiling soon, namely our new website, a commemorative handbook taking our readers through the 50-year history of Tekno Valves, and finally a large celebration at our factory in December where our customers and friends will be invited to celebrate this occasion.
What’s on the agenda for TVNA in 2022?
JG: 2022 will be a special year for TVNA. Greg Leumas will be retiring on December 31st 2021 , and as a founding partner of the company, we must look to fill the void his retirement will leave. We wish Greg nothing but the best in his retirement, and hope that it will bring him continued good health and more time to spend with his family. We will continue to build our team in North America and stay the course that Greg has started us on in his time with TVNA.
Which TVNA products have performed well this year, and what is driving demand?
JG: The year 2021 continues to be a year of growth for us in many sectors of our business, led by specialty gas and acetylene valves. Demand is up in both categories, and we can attribute this to many projects and start-ups coming back online after being paused in 2020. Another huge driver of the demand we see in the market is valve availability. Whether RPVs, acetylene valves, specialty gas diaphragm valves, or medical pin index valves, cylinder valve availability has been stretched to the max this year and Tekno Valves has been able to take advantage of this with increased factory capacities and higher than ever stock levels in Louisiana to meet our customer needs.
Where does Tekno Valves stand today? What’s your footprint, your product range and your brand today?
JG: We are currently exporting to 65+ countries across six continents. We are at the most exciting phase in our journey as we witness unprecedented demand for our products. Our year after year decision of investing in product development, technology and automation is starting to pay off as it is difficult to develop world-class infrastructure and a culture of excellence overnight. Our association with the gas industry is extended through membership for the IOMA, CGA, GAWDA, CI, ASTM, and AIIGMA. We are also an approved vendor in Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative (IWDC) & its subsidiary PurityPlus, a recognized buying group in the United States.
Most of our business comes from our existing customer base as they appreciate our products and service. Sure, we have faced our share of challenges, but it has only made us stronger. We participate in the development of technical standards in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) / Compressed Gas Association (CGA) / Chlorine Institute (CI) / Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) cylinder valve committees.
Our cylinder valves are tested and certified at BAM to European, American and ISO standards. This fastidious approach can be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating for our sales and distribution partners, but we would not have it any other way. We pride ourselves on attention to detail and global benchmarking, and always strive to provide the best in class product no matter the service or application.
Where do you see the North American industrial gases market heading? What do you expect in the next year?
JG: I think the next year brings more and more consolidation to an already largely consolidated industry within North America. There are several large companies that were formed and started looking for acquisitions in 2021, and I can see late 2021 and early 2022 being the time they start announcing their purchases. 2020 and 2021 have taken a major toll on some of the independent gas companies in North America, and with the emergence of several buyers I think it could create a perfect selling opportunity for these companies who may not have a next generation that is interested in taking over the business.
Do you have any technical advice you can share with our readers related to high pressure cylinder valves, maintenance and any developments of your products?
JG: Absolutely! The thing we hear most when visiting gas companies is that their fill plant personnel and the end customer severely over-tighten the handwheel on the cylinder valve. The idea behind using soft seated valves is that they require less torque to close. Instead of making the cylinder package safer by tightening the handwheel excessively, they are actually damaging the seat and making the seal significantly worse over time. Our catalogs publish closing torques for each of our valve series, but for standard industrial O-ring sealed valves, this torque is only 2.2 ft-lbs.
What’s your fit with the specialty gases business and how do you see it developing in North America?
JG: Tekno Valves is heavily focused on the specialty gas business. We have seen tremendous growth in this area the last few years and see that continuing. We have developed several new products for this market in the last few years, and will continue that trend this year and next with our development of new specialty gas valve designs for butane, corrosive gases, and refrigerant gases. The specialty gas market in North America continues to grow in scope and volume, and Tekno Valves is positioned to grow with this market. We manufacture stainless steel valves in house, and provide best in class testing and leak detection on every valve that is manufactured.
As TVNA is based in Louisiana, how was the company and your customers impacted by the damaged and disruption caused by Hurricane Ida in late August, September?
JG: Hurricane Ida was one of the worst hurricanes that South Louisiana has experienced in centuries. Widespread damage and outages were a given with sustained wind speeds of 150+ mph. Our new location in Mandeville, LA was very fortunate to not have sustained any damage to the structure, but nearly three weeks later we still await the restoration of internet to our building. Secondly, the freight carriers are still not doing pickups locally, so we have started to deliver freight directly to the regional shipping center to eliminate any delays for our customers. Lastly, many customers have reached out to check on us during this time, and we sincerely appreciate their concerns. We look forward to returning to 100% very soon.