When you meet Chris Sbrocco of Pro Service Plumbing, it’s easy to see the passion he has for his work. He’s been working as a plumber and has used Viega for more than 20 years. We met Chris on the site of a project he’s currently working on – AJ Rose Manufacturing – a 100-year-old manufacturing company in Cleveland, Ohio, that provides precision metal and tooling to make parts for the automotive industry, as well as other industrial and HVAC customers.
We’re in a manufacturing facility that’s been operating out of this location for 100 years. Can you tell us what happened and what you’re working on?
On March 1, 2023, a fire at the plant caused propane tanks to explode. The explosion damaged a cooling tower. This is the original facility for AJ Rose and it’s been operating here since 1922. Thankfully, the fire was under control quickly and there were no injuries. My company, Pro Service Plumbing, was brought in by DANE Contractors to initially make emergency repairs. We are a full-service plumbing outfit that specializes in new construction, service and insurance loss. Our goal was to get AJ Rose back to pre-loss conditions as quickly as possible.
This facility is huge. What can you tell us about the work you’re doing?
We’re doing a lot of things now at the plant. The building is 110,000 square feet and one of the things we are doing is installing a new cooling tower to replace the one that was damaged in the fire. What this system does is provide chilled water to heat exchangers on machine presses to cool the hydraulic fluid. Without the cooling system, the machines and hydraulic oil will run too hot, forcing the factory to shut down until the equipment cools. Each piece of equipment requires a certain amount of water. Some run hotter than others. We want to balance the flow of chilled water to make sure that certain machines are cooling faster or get more flow than others that don’t require it which ensures that the system is running at maximum efficiency.
It took about two weeks to get a temporary tower up and running. We were able to hook it up to the existing system (which was compromised during the explosion). But one of the things we discovered is that there were leaks throughout the existing cooling system, so we are working on replacing the entire system as well. We’re also working on replacing their entire heating system. It’s turned into a really big project and we’re getting to do some big-time plumbing.
What Viega fittings and valves are you using in this project?
It’s all overhead piping for the most part. There are 16 machines, and we are running a 3" supply throughout the entire factory. There are drops throughout – each one has a strainer and balancing valve. We are using 1-1/2" ProPress Manual Balancing Valves for the cooling supply and drops. We’re piping in chilled water with 3" ProPress valves, flanges, and 4" flanges for backflow and XL ProPress fittings in the pump station to introduce glycol so it doesn’t freeze. I estimate we’re using close to 400 fittings on this project.
I know you’ve been a Viega customer and advocate for a long time, but why did you choose Viega for this project?
AJ Rose used Viega fittings and valves throughout the system, so we didn’t want to differ from the existing system. We had all our plans and schematics approved by their mechanical engineer. Using Viega saves so much time for us. We didn’t have to shut down entire systems to make repairs. We’ve been able to make emergency repairs on the fly without having to drain the entire system (which would take hours for all the water to drain). And this project has meant we’ve brought in a lot of new employees on this project. Using Viega and press technology means that employees with less experience are still able to press and make repairs.
AJ Rose has deadlines they have to meet to deliver products to their automotive customers. They can be faced with some steep fines if they miss a deliverable. It’s been a 24/7 standby situation for us to address all the leaks and keep them working.
What has the impact of this project been on your business?
About 50% of our business is residential, so a project like this one in an industrial setting has really helped Pro Service Plumbing grow. We started with 4-5 plumbers, and we have since doubled the size of our staff and are always looking for more.
Thanks to AJ Rose, DANE Contractors, and Pro Service Plumbing for allowing us to do an on-site visit to see this project in action. Learn more about AJ Rose at https://ajrose.com/. Follow Chris on Instagram at @proserviceplumbing or @chris_sbrocco. To learn more about Pro Service Plumbing, visit https://www.pspcleveland.com/.