On this episode, we have a chat with Brian Courtright, national sales engineer for Lubrizol Corporation representing Corzan CPVC .
Get in touch with Brian at Brian.Courtright@Lubrizol.com and learn more about Corzan CPVC at www.corzan.com.
Welcome to The Authority Podcast: Plumbing and Mechanical. When talking about the built environment we would do well to remember, we shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us. Therefore, on each episode, we'll discuss the latest trends from IAPMO in plumbing and mechanical safety, sustainability, and resiliency.
Join me, your host, Christoph Lohr, and together we'll explore the ways we can make our buildings shape us for the better.
Christoph Lohr: Welcome to The Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical. I'm your host Christoph Lohr. Joining me for this week's special episode is Brian Courtright with Lubrizol. Brian, welcome to the show.
Brian Courtright: Thanks for having me.
Christoph Lohr: Glad to have you on the show. Well Brian, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself.
Brian Courtright: Yeah, so I am the national sales engineer for Lubrizol representing Corzan CPVC.
I've been in the plumbing and HVAC industry for about going on probably on seven, eight years now. I graduated from Penn State with a degree in chemical engineering. In 2013, I worked a couple of years in the oil field and then transitioned over to plumbing, HVAC, mostly pipes valves and fittings on like the sales engineering side.
Christoph Lohr: Excellent. Excellent. Well, really glad to have you and to have your perspective on the show. I guess to start off with, you know, for our listeners, some of them may be familiar. Others may not be with Lubrizol, but there was all has kind of a unique role in the plumbing industry. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about?
Brian Courtright: Yeah, definitely at Lubrizol, we, the way we kind of go to market is interesting and it makes planning my job to friends and family even more interesting. So Lubrizol, we actually manufacture the compound for Corzan CPVC. So for people in the plumbing industry, it's schedule 80 gray CPVC piping out there.
It could be the Corzan product. And what Lubrizol did is we actually invented that CPVC material in the late 50s, early 60s and started using it for plumbing in the early sixties, but we actually don't manufacture the pipes and fittings. We just manufacture the CPVC compound. And then we have a strategic partners that actually extrude the resin or their compound into pipe or injection mold into fittings.
And our two partners are George Fischer and IPEX. So it's, it's kinda cool. Some of the value that we provide Lubrizol is a company in Corzan. The material manufacturers, traditionally, usually the buck kind of stops there. You have some engineers that work on the material side of things and they can give you some good properties.
You know what the material is good for, some compatibility stuff, but we've kind of took it an extra step and we have like a full team of really experienced whether it be plumbers, engineers, people that have worked in the plumbing industry, whether it be like I said, master plumbers or sales reps throughout different pipe valves and fittings, that industry.
So, you know, we actually go a step further and we talk to engineers, contractors, designers, builders and help out our manufacturing partners when it comes to questions about applications. So I think it's pretty unique. Something that we do, and it's a fun way of explaining to someone that's not really knowledgeable in the industry of what you do on a day to day basis.
Christoph Lohr: Definitely. Well, and, and just a real quick, the gray piping now core Corazon comes the schedule 80 and schedule 40. Is that correct?
Brian Courtright: Yeah. And most commonly in the field, you'll see, it uses schedule 80. So that's, you know, on your commercial plumbing projects, the schedule 80 CPVC is the most common, uh, schedule 40 is available. Typically, that's not the most common used. There some certain like niche applications where that can be used. But yeah, typically what you're going to see in the field is a schedule 80 it's a little bit thicker than the schedule 40.
Christoph Lohr: Interesting, interesting. And really, I guess what you're describing is that the strategy that you all take is from raw material to install product. Is that fair?
Brian Courtright: Yeah, definitely. So on sides of, you know, giving support to both the manufacturers. So of course we're giving them the compounds, so they're going to be extruding it. We're going to be supporting them, but at the same time, we also support them at the end use.
So if we get questions on, whether it be thermal expansion contraction and the plastic piping world, that's a very important topic because plastic expands and contracts slightly, you know, more than it's metal counterparts. So, you know, that's, that's something that we, as Corzan and as Lubrizol, we will kind of educate the, you know, the industry on that.
And then also, you know, things like installation practices. So we work together with our manufacturing partners on that front as well.
Christoph Lohr: So with you all being involved from raw material to install product, then I would imagine you guys tend to be very sort of solutions focused. Can you maybe speak to our listeners a little bit about that?
Brian Courtright: Yeah, definitely. For having a complete piping system, we kind of want to worry about everything that it's connected to, whether it be hot water systems or thinking about how to insulate pipes, things like that. So when we talk to design engineers or contractors, we try our best to bring the knowledge that we have about not only our piping systems, but our experience in the field, whether it be. It's hot water before or installations of fixtures. So you think of the pipe as connecting point a to point B and it's getting your water from place to place. We have to keep that in mind throughout like our whole conversations is it's more than just the pipe, you know, it's the plumbing system and what we will do help educate the field on different things, such as like installation, training, design guidance, and things like that for the entire school.
Christoph Lohr: Interesting. And so when it comes to then being, you know, solutions focused, I imagine innovation and new products are really an important part of what you try to aim for in terms of, of your value proposition.
Brian Courtright: Definitely. Definitely. I think one of the funniest things I used to work at Viga pro press and when I took this job at Lubrazol, I was thinking first reading the job description. And I was like, CPVC piping, probably not much innovation in that field. It's a technology that's been around since the sixties, you know, it's really popular residential. It's it's got a big strong foothold in the industrial industry, commercial water. And then what I, what I found out is that was, that was completely wrong. I think Lubrizol is a company. We spent a lot of time and effort on R& D and you know, there's a lot that we could do with the material, whether it be feedback from the market on different properties that they'd like to see it. Maybe they say that they'd like the pipe to do this or that we could go back and reform. Since we've had so much experience with this before we kind of know what different trade-offs we had. If we want to beef up something, you know what that's kind of take away from maybe something else, but knowing the markets so well, we could make those decisions with, with the guidance of our manufacturing partners and then some of our key users help us out there. Then also on the, on the plumbing side of things on like your pipes, valves, and fittings, we get feedback from our manufacturing partners. You know, GF and IPEX, and we work with them on the innovation front too, whether it be, you know, maybe a new style fitting, a different type of systems, how you're going to combat, you know, Legionella, things like that. So, you know, it's, it's cool. Cause we work on kind of the both fronts and the innovation, both on the materials side and on kind of like the end product side where it'd be like a valve or a fitting.
Christoph Lohr: So with the innovation that you guys are doing, and obviously you guys have your own facilities. I mean, do you ever do any kind of pilot projects or anything like that in your own facility?
Brian Courtright: Yeah. So our research and development department is based outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and we have a full-scale pilot plant, both for compounding the CPVC compounded resin. And then also we have a couple pipe extrusion machines and injection molding machines. So when we are making, let's say like a new formulation, or we get some feedback from our manufacturing partners about some processing issues we're able to troubleshoot on-site. Which is great, both for new products and troubleshooting. So we could actually run that exact product that we've sold to our manufacturing partners, troubleshoot the issue from afar. That's something that I think it's just a great value because it's, it's what really does increase our partnership instead of just being a, a materials provider. We're also kind of on the technology side. Being experts at what the end use of it. It does help because we understand what the end goal of what they're looking for instead of just kind of looking at it in a microscope and just saying, "Hey, you know, we're, we're making some shape out of plastic and you know, it looks good to me." it's good to see. We actually have in-depth knowledge there. So we could have our conversations with our manufacturers to say, Hey, maybe check this on your machine. You know, maybe this is going wrong. And then at the end of the day, that's going to improve like their scrap rate and production.
Christoph Lohr: Makes sense. Makes sense. Well, speaking of goals, a lot of organizations now have sustainability goals and sustainability efforts and targets that they're trying to make. You know, what are, what are you all doing in that regard in terms of trying to be a more sustainable manufacturer?
Brian Courtright: Yeah, that's a great question. I think sustainability is a really big topic right now. And something that Lubrizol takes very seriously myself too. I think it's a very important topic that all of us need to really think about on a, on an everyday basis. And I think there's some things that we're doing that I'll get into, but I think even more importantly, that it was, we're trying to stay in tune with what the industry is doing.
I know that we've been tracking the water demand calculator that IAPMO and you guys are working on. Whether it be saving water, water conservation, any way that we can to help with that and stay abreast of what those new technologies are or engineering methods are. So we can help educate the industry on that. Then also things like we have some trade offs here too, you know, I'm like the hot water side. You know, we want energy conservation, but at the same time, we have to worry about Legionella and, and, you know, storing water at hotter temperatures, distributing water at hotter temperatures. So it's very important to us as an organization to understand all of the issues that are industry-wide so we could help educate. So if we're educated in the more that we're talking about it with either be contractors or engineers, designers, whoever it may be. I think that just kind of elevates all of us as an industry. So I think that's a big side of it, right there. And then a couple other things on the material front is we had an life cycle analysis done on our flow guard and Corzan product in 2015. If you're not familiar with life cycle assessments, it takes a look at pretty much all of the energy it takes to pretty much make your product from raw material all the way to, you know, finished use. And then it even goes to recycling. So we did that in 2015, we got some good data on that. And then something that we're looking into. Something you want to keep updating because you know, you set yourself a mark of this is the type of energy you're using and then you hope to improve on it every time. And we've been seeing that with some new reports coming out with some big net carbon issues of 2050, there's a lot of goals going out. I think there's, we could see in our industry, the building industry, I think is one of the top five biggest carbon dioxide emitters. So any anything that we could do on that front from a material standpoint, we want to be cognizant of it, and then we also want to be able to make sure that we could adjust in any of the right ways.
Christoph Lohr: It sounds like sustainability as we do at IAPMO, is a very complex topic.
Brian Courtright: For sure. It's kind of like everything too. There's trade-offs and you have to kind of decide, you know, where like what you want to sacrifice. What's, what's most important to you and it's really tricky. I think we're kind of seeing this everywhere, but I think as an industry, I could see us, we're all kind of making steps in the right direction. I think there's some good momentum behind the sustainability movement. When I first came out of college, it was kind of more of a thought and I heard a lot about it, but it seemed like it was more fluffy, but now I feel like there's some, some good movement behind it and I'm pretty proud of some of the things have been seen out of our industry.
Christoph Lohr: So Brian, one of the things in terms of typically in thought and thinking of sustainability and materials, recycled materials is typically an item that comes up. Is there anything that Lubrizol is doing in regards to that in terms of also making their products more sustainable?
Brian Courtright: Yeah, I think recyclability is a big topic in construction. This is the world in general, on the sustainability topic. And I think that is one area that the industry. Probably advanced it a little bit is, you know, how we recycle our construction materials. CPVC Corzan is a thermal plastic so it is able to be recycled because it could be ground backed down into pellets and then melt it and then back extruded and things like that. So we do have some partners that we work with that actually will recycle. CPVC, one of the biggest benefits of Corzan CPVC is that it lasts so long. You know, when you're building, that's a huge selling point. You don't want something that's only has a short shelf life, but at the end of the day once the building's done you want to be able to take that pipe in and reuse it. So the good point is that the pipe is able to be recycled, but I think that is one area in the industry is we find a good solution for recycling. Whether that be different construction practices like at the job site itself, whether it be at the start of the job when your trimming off loose pieces, whether it be pipes or vinyl siding, things like that, you don't just throw those away and go to the landfill, you know, at the end of the life cycle, when you are demolishing a building, if there's plastic pipes in there to kind of salvage those and bring those to recycling. So I just, I'm excited to see the growth and I believe there's a couple of companies taking a look at that.
I know there's one that we work with called return polymers, but yeah, I think that's one area that. I'd like to keep my eye on and it's becoming more common practices. People just getting their foot in the door and just kind of testing it out.
Christoph Lohr: Excellent. Excellent. Well, speaking on our industry as a whole, I mean, obviously there's so many different components, just in the realm of plumbing. You know, you talk about the built environment. You talked about HAC systems, but just in the realm of plumbing, there's so many different facets to a building environment. And so obviously working together with others, think you would agree with it's an important part to play in the work that we do on a daily basis. What do you all look at at Lubrizol in terms of working together with others, maybe the partnerships that you guys developed, how do you try to impact the plumbing industry that way?
Brian Courtright: Yeah, I think partnerships are just, honestly, one of the most important things to our business. No one knows everything, right? I mean, you can't, even if you have a great staff of experienced people, there's, you're, you're going to be lacking in some departments. When we want to look at innovation or anything easier for our engineers or our customers. We're going to find all that information out through partnerships, whether it be industry groups, making stronger partnerships with our manufacturers. So like George Fisher, IPEX, you know, the stronger we are together with them, the more information that we're sharing to them, they're sharing back to us. It's really going to help both of us out at the end of the day. Same for like the end user. So we're really trying to like keep communication open as possible all the way through kind of like the whole value chain, because at the end of the day, we need information from the outsiders on, on what what's going to make our product better. Or if there's something that the industry is missing, that we could help out on, we want to kind of be privy to those conversations to make sure you're not missing out on it.
Christoph Lohr: That's interesting. So I guess in terms of missing information, I missed maybe, can you speak to our listeners maybe about one trend that you guys are seeing if it's a piping or tank issue, or where are you seeing some missing, missing pieces of for our listeners?
Brian Courtright: Yeah, so the course and material, that's kind of the way that we talk about it. It's a material. Traditionally made into pipes, but some of its biggest benefits is, you know, being resistance to chlorine is one of the biggest ones. That's why probably our biggest market is in the plumbing. But then you see it in the fire sprinkler in our our Blazemaster product. So what we've been looking at is, you know, as a company is what other areas either in construction or peripheral to the plumbing market is where would this material make sense on the flame and smoke properties thing. If you look, there's a cortisone sheet, uh, we have some other manufacturers that make coronated like different shapes for like distillation towers and things like that. I think that's one things that we found in our partnerships is that the world of plumbings is probably most important for us, but there's also things outside of that, that we could get into more and look outside of the plumbing. But don't zoom out too far, you're still in the construction world. There's a lot that could get changed. There's a lot of inefficiencies that we see and we hope that we could help kind of solve some stuff with some of our materials solutions.
Christoph Lohr: Really interesting. Brian, really interesting. Well, if you are going to wrap up your talk in one word, what would that one word be?
Brian Courtright: I have to say partnership.
Christoph Lohr: Yeah. Why is that?
Brian Courtright: You know, I think though the way we've talked today, I mean, I I've, I've always loved working with teams and where we fit in this, uh, in the plumbing world. I think there's just value in working together all the way from end use to, you know, manufacturing. I think that all of us could learn a little bit from each other, whether it be through, you know, being parts of these associations and stuff.
So I think the better partnerships, the more open communication we have with each other, the further industry could go.
Christoph Lohr: I love that. I love that. And I totally agree. I think the more communication that we have as an industry, I love that line. I do think that's where we can go. That's a great place for us to go well, before we sign off, if our listeners want to get in touch with you or your organization, uh, you know, with the social media email phone, what's the best way for them to get into.
Brian Courtright: Yes, you can email me. It's my name, Brian.Courtright@Lubrizol.com. And then also you can check out our website, Corzan.com has got a ton of great information on the product. If you, you know, looking for something real quick and if not, I'm always available. If you have any questions.
Christoph Lohr: Well, Brian, on behalf of the Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule today to record this episode with us and look forward to having you on the show again, maybe sometime in the future.
Brian Courtright: Yeah, definitely. Christoph is very fun. I appreciate the time. Thank you so much.
Christoph Lohr: Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of the Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical.
Love this episode of the podcast? Head over to iTunes to subscribe, rate and leave a review. Please follow us on Twitter @ authorityPM, on Instagram @theauthoritypodcast, or email us at info@IAPMO.Org. Join us next time for another episode of the Authority Podcast: Plumbing and Mechanical. In the meantime, let's work together to make our buildings more resilient and shape us for the better.