It is thirty years since Steve Vick started the company which bears his name. In 1981 it was a one-man, one-woman band as Steve and his wife began assembling the specialist foam sealant kits which Steve had devised for use in the new trenchless gas main replacement techniques which were being developed by British Gas.
Now employing around 40 people with headquarters beside the River Avon in Bath, Steve Vick International has chalked up many ‘firsts’ in the intervening years such as being granted the exclusive, worldwide license by British Gas for the Live Gas Mains Insertion technique in 1984. Other ‘firsts’ have included developing the patented FOAMBAG™ method of abandoning gas mains, products and techniques for live gas service isolation and insertion, pipe coil trailers with a unique central drum design and, more recently, FULLSEAL™ – an innovative low-cost, environmentally friendly annular sealant for dead services.
Today, Steve Vick is Chairman of the company he founded with Crock Harrison and Tony Day responsible for the day to day management of the company as Joint Managing Directors. “I believe that one of the company’s great strengths”, says Steve, “and one which has ensured our success, is the ability to innovate and transform ideas into marketable products. As the dual pressures of cost and environmental implications of open trenching increase, underground repair and renewal of pipes is the preferred method of meeting renewal targets and our sealant products and associated equipment are key to many of the methods used, certainly in the gas sector.”
Crock Harrison, who has worked for Steve Vick International since the 1980s, has been at the forefront of product development. Over three decades the company has worked closely with all current Distribution Network Operators plus their predecessors Transco and British Gas; with water, electricity and telecommunications suppliers; with the nuclear decommissioning engineers as well as with utilities overseas.
For example, the company developed the LYONTEC™ gland box, named after the town of Lyon where it was first used, in cooperation with Gaz de France. Until then, the gland box employed in the Live Gas Mains Insertion had been a relatively high-cost piece of equipment which needed to be retrieved after insertion was complete. French engineers wanted a more lightweight box which could be left in the ground and so the LYONTEC™ product was devised and, having undergone several upgrades, it is still used today.
Latest Product Release
The latest product release is a toolkit designed for the garden-to-meter insertion of a new 17.5mm SDR 9.7 PE service pipe introduced by Radius Systems. Steve Vick International worked closely with the pipe manufacturer to devise a set of equipment which would ensure that the PE is inserted into an old ¾” steel service quickly, efficiently and without causing any damage to the new pipe. The system is being marketed as a method of renewing ¾” steel services whilst significantly increasing the supply capacity compared with the traditional 16mm size pipe.
Over the years, Steve Vick International has steadily expanded into the water, electricity supply, telecommunications and civil engineering sectors supplying pipe sealing products, pipe handling equipment including coil trailers and pushing machines and a range of pipe cutting equipment. More recently, the company has been successful in developing and supplying specialist sealing techniques for abandoned pipes and voids used in nuclear decommissioning.
The company’s main focus, however, continues to be products and services for the repair and replacement of gas mains and services. As well as supplying products in kit form for operators to carry out their own procedures, Steve Vick International also has teams of highly skilled Special Contract Service technicians who carry out more specialist procedures all over the UK and further afield. Techniques such as medium pressure gas flow stopping, large diameter mains ‘foam-offs’, the abandonment of live gas stub ends which are accessed remotely and the renewal of live service risers in multi-occupation buildings.
So, 30 years on, what does the company see for the future? “Sean Noonan’s appointment as our youngest board member”, says Steve Vick, “is indicative of the forward-looking attitude of the business. We shall continue to build on our strong reputation for innovation, service and providing practical, cost-effective and environmentally sensitive solutions for pipe renewal problems. Our focus will be on working with our customers to minimise their costs and maximise their success.”