Nesquehoning-based Hydra-Tech to add 10,000 square feet
Linda Rex, left, Leadership Carbon coordinator of the Carbon Chamber & Economic Development, and Kathy Henderson, director of economic development, look over hydraulically driven pumps built at Hydra-Tech Pumps in Nesquehoning. Explaining the components of the pump is Jeff Whittaker, vice president of sales and marketing at Hydra-Tech. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Nathan Andreas, left, and Chris Biehl, both of Andreas Plumbing and Heating in Lehighton and members of the Leadership Carbon Class of the Carbon Chamber and Economic Development, examine large pumps built at Hydra-Tech Pumps in Nesquehoning. The 14-member Leadership Carbon class toured several businesses and industries in Carbon County, including Hydra-Tech.
Jeff Whittaker, vice president of sales and marketing at Hydra-Tech of Nesquehoning, a manufacturer of submersible pumps, stands next to two 74 horsepower custom power units the firm made for a rental company in Galveston, Texas.
Hydra-Tech Pumps, 167 Stock St. (Route 54), Nesquehoning, was originally located in Mount Holly, New Jersey. The firm builds hydraulically driven submersible pumps.
Jeff Whittaker and other family members bought the firm in 2005 and brought it to Nesquehoning in 2007. The move proved to be a good one, Whittaker said.
“We probably tripled the business in the 11 years we’ve been here.”
And expansion of the firm is on the horizon. Whittaker said the company encompasses 17,000 square feet of manufacturing space and will be adding a 10,000-square-foot addition in the spring. He anticipates there will be more employees added to its 21-member workforce.
Hydra-Tech Pumps is located at the site of the former Nardini’s Banquet Hall.
Whittaker had previous business experience in Carbon County. He owned the Viking Injection Company in Franklin Township from 1993 to 2008. Viking Injection, which made chemical dispensing pumps for commercial dish machines and commercial washers, was sold to a St. Louis firm, and that operation was moved to Missouri.
Whittaker said when he purchased Hydra-Tech, he offered jobs to the employees in the Mount Holly company, but none opted to relocate.
“We started with all-new employees,” he said.
Hydra-Tech was founded in 1977 by Ken Reim. Reim, who still lives in New Jersey, remains involved in the business and assists Whittaker in quoting, creating new products and engineering.
The firm does business globally, with customers on almost every continent, Whittaker said. He said his pumps range from 1½-inch discharge to 30-inch discharge.
“The 30-inch discharge pump can empty a swimming pool in about a minute,” he said.
He doesn’t have residential customers, he said. The pumps are sold to firms and municipalities which use them on such things as sewage treatment operations, marine salvage and in the oil and gas industry.
“Anywhere you need portable dewatering, that’s where our product is used,” he said.
He said about 80 percent of his sales are domestic while about 20 percent are exported.
Many of his customers are rental firms. He said Hydra-Tech doesn’t rent pumps so that it doesn’t compete with those customers.
Whittaker’s brother, Kyle, who is about 20 years his senior, owns a business in Wilmington, Delaware, producing fiberglass products for filtration.
Jeff said the business broker who helped Kyle and his father set up business in Delaware steered him to Viking Injection.
“I looked at Viking and ended up buying it in 1993,” he said. He opened the firm, his first business venture, in 1995 shortly after finishing college.
That same broker introduced him to Hydra-Tech in Mount Holly.
“I looked at the business and it so happened the building in which we’re now located was available,” he said.
Owning a manufacturing business wasn’t always a priority for Whittaker, who is originally from Gwynedd Valley, Montgomery County. In college, he started with a major in mechanical engineering, and graduated an English major with minors in Spanish and business.
“I learned a lot from my brother who had 20 years of experience,” he said.
Whittaker said he has no regrets about moving the operation from New Jersey to Nesquehoning.
“We’ve been happy working in this area,” he said. “It all comes down to people, and we’ve had good luck getting good people.”