Girard expanding in Florida, consolidating its operations into a new state-of-the-art 80,000 sq.ft. building set on a 5-acre site in Vero Beach.
Girard Equipment, a leading manufacturer of tank-truck equipment, has consolidated its operations into a new, state-of-the-art, 80,000-square-foot building set on a five-acre site in Vero Beach, Fla.
The company’s main location had also been in Vero Beach, Fla., but had satellite operations in other nearby areas. Girard quickly grew out of that 40,000- square- foot facility before moving to this newest Vero Beach location. Girard Equipment acquired the location and had invested about $1 million on infrastructure, which includes administrative offices, a purpose-built investment casting foundry, machining center and assembly department.
70 Years of Experience
For more than 70 years, Girard Equipment has produced popular brands of pressure relief vents and magnetic vacuum breakers and various other useful products for the tank-trailer industry. Products include DOT 407 Relief Valves and DOT407 Magnetic Vacuum Breakers, MC 307 Pressure Relief Vents and vacuum breakers. In addition, the company sells vapor recovery adapters, test boxes, man-ways, chemical unloading equipment, accessories, O-rings and gaskets, and AAR Tank-Car pressure relief valves.
The company operates multiple sales offices and plants in Florida, Texas and New Jersey.
Girard Equipment was founded in 1952 by John L. Girard, grandfather of today’s company president and chief executive Tim Girard. In the beginning, John L Girard manufactured rubber hose assemblies for the local tank market in and around Rahway, N.J In 2003 after 38 years in the Rahway facility, the company moved to Linden, N.J., in the epicenter of the petrochemical market in the Northeast. In 2009, Girard relocated the entire company to Florida. By then the company was developing castings along with other products.
In addition to selling parts, Girard offers an extensive valve re-manufacturer and refurbishment service. Most of that work takes place at the company’s service center in Laporte, Texas, near Houston. With 3,500-square-feet of repair space, technicians at that facility can rebuild and recondition all Girard-manufactured equipment. The center is located on Highway 146 north of LaPorte.
Product Line Expanding Into New Areas
For a long time Girard focused its products on the petroleum and chemical industries. But because those industries routinely suffer downturns, the company saw a need to diversify into other areas, including the rail tank, IBC, tank container, vacuum tank, and food-grade container markets.
The railroad industry is proving to be a rich territory for expansion, Girard said. The company is manufacturing pressure relief devices for major railroads, including CSX, UP and BNSF. Most notably, tank-car manufacturers such as Trinity Rail, Union Tank Car and Greenbrier have been working closely with Girard. In addition, it supplies its valves to other companies serving the railroad repair industry.
“Our Teflon-Coated valves are one of our most popular products for railroad companies,’’ Girard said. “These valves are made to reduce corrosion. At the same time, we create general-purpose valves for rail cars, so we have two lines of valves for the same industry – mainly Teflon-lined PRVs for corrosive service and non-lined PRVs for general purpose usage. Both styles are quickly becoming standards in the industry’’
One Central Location
Girard’s consolidation in Vero Beach was an effort to move a somewhat fragmented manufacturing process to one central location, company officials said.
“We were in a number of buildings, one 20-miles away from the foundry,’’ Girard said. “To streamline our process, we acquired a large industrial building in Vero Beach that contained plenty of land for expansion. The building is designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and has three stages of backup power to ensure we stay functioning in adverse weather conditions and to keep up with the demand for our products right now.
At this facility, Girard generates its own electric power from the casting process. Investment casting requires a lot of natural gas.
“The generator we installed will produce most of our power needs from the 5-inch gas line. The production of electricity is not derived from burning or combustion within the generator. The pressure in the gas line moves the pistons in the linear generator to produce ample amounts of electricity for our current and ever-growing demand,’’ Girard said. “An additional draw for us was the construction that is underway on a new international airport directly across the street from our new plant. Vero Beach Regional Airport will become Vero Beach International Airport by next spring when the U.S. Customs facility is finished near the end of this year’’.
Girard’s new plant employs about 75 workers, which is a slightly smaller labor force than five years ago.
Asked about the effects of the pandemic on his business, Girard said, “The pandemic hurt us a little bit. But when the pandemic began, our industry was starting to slow a bit anyway. However, we were not hurt as much as others because we own our own foundry and molds – a process that allows us to manufacture and store our own stainless steel used for our castings. Also, we tend to have long contracts with our customers.’’
Lean and Technologically Advanced Process
Girard has always prioritized a manufacturing process that is both lean and technologically advanced, Girard said.
“The introduction of highly sophisticated CNC machinery, capable of machining our valve components to exact tolerances with consistency, was a direct enhancement to our product line,’’ Girard said. “We will continue to invest in the most accurate manufacturing technologies, and this is a testament to our dedication to product superiority. After all, our name and reputation have become an industry standard in North America, and we are very proud of that.’’
Girard’s manufacturing process was recently featured in the segment “Chemical Tank Pressure Vents’’ on the Science Channel’s “How It’s Made” program. The show gives viewers an inside look at how everyday products are manufactured.
Girard Equipment has a firm presence in the transportation industry, partially because of its involvement in leading trade associations such as National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC), Tank Trailers Manufacturing Association and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Asked what it intends to accomplish over the next few years, Girard said the company plans to continue to manufacture diversified products needed around the world, particularly in the Americas, Asia and Europe – and anywhere else Girard products are needed.
“Girard Equipment is a company rooted in tradition and has an investment in innovation,’’ Girard said. “We are looking forward to the next five years and well beyond.’’