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EMCO Chemical Distributors Realizes the Goal of Opening A New Manufacturing Facility and Blackmer® GX Series Sliding Vane Pumps

July 1, 2014

See the official PSG article here:

Blackmer EMCO case Study – with images

In 1967, after relocating to Chicago, IL, from Boston, MA,
Edward Polen was working as a salesman for the Big Ben Chemical & Solution
Co. Polen worked for Big Ben until the company was sold in 1971, at which time he
decided it was time for another change. This one, however, required a bit more
work than just finding a new home.

Now, having moved to the suburbs, and using his garage as a
base of operations, Polen incorporated E-M Co. and began filling chemical
orders while packaging chemicals into small containers. From those modest
beginnings, E-M Co.—which Polen renamed EMCO Chemical Distributors, Inc., in 1985—has
grown into of the top 10 largest privately owned distributors, blenders and
custom packagers of industrial chemicals, specialty chemicals and fine
ingredients in the United States, and the 44th largest in the world, with more than
$300 million in annual sales.

By the end of its first year of operation, Polen had relocated
his nascent company to a small manufacturing plant in North Chicago, IL. After
four decades of continuous growth, which included the creation of three additional
processing facilities in the Midwest, four new warehouses, a Canadian
distribution hub and a network of satellite sales offices, EMCO had finally run
out of room. So, in 2010, plans were unveiled to outfit a new corporate
headquarters and manufacturing facility in Pleasant Prairie, WI. The site was
located 14 miles north of North Chicago, just across the Illinois-Wisconsin border
near the city of Kenosha.

To house its new facility, EMCO acquired a former resin and
ink plant that had been used to produce materials for the printing industry.
EMCO’s expansion plans were fully realized on Aug. 6, 2013, when a
ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was attended by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, was
held at the new site.

“We are thrilled to be expanding our company by opening this new facility in
Pleasant Prairie,” said Polen at the dedication event. “Although we have been
doing business in Wisconsin since 1971, we are excited to have a physical
presence with the opening of our state-of-the-art manufacturing/distribution
facility and corporate headquarters…This expansion allows great opportunity for
EMCO to grow.”

Finding The Perfect Partners Traveling from the Point A of
project conception in 2010 to the Point Z of a finished facility in 2013 took
large doses of vision, cooperation, communication, patience and hard work.
Tasked with designing the layout of the new facility from the EMCO perspective
were B.J. Korman, Vice President of Engineering; Stuart Levy, Vice President, Maintenance;
and Mark Serdar, Facilities Maintenance Manager. The trio benefited from the
fact that the structure was vacant. This meant they were able to work with a
blank slate when it came to determining the overall layout, from the location
of the tank farms and loading bays to the storage areas and computer rooms.

“We bought a shell building and put everything in ourselves, more than 10 miles
of stainless-steel pipe, 64 miles of wire, in an area approximately 300,000
square feet,” explained Korman. “When it was finished we moved our industrial chemical
division to Pleasant Prairie and kept our custom packaging operation in North
Chicago. We get orders in Pleasant Prairie and create bulk quantities of
chemicals, 11,100 gallons on down to five-gallon containers.”

A pivotal section of the new facility is its delivery area complete
with 25-car railroad siding and side-by-side transport-truck and railcar
loading/unloading docks. There, a steady stream of railcars and tank trucks deliver
the raw materials that are necessary for EMCO to blend and package finished end products.

To handle the large quantities of materials that are arriving
daily, the facility features two bulk-storage areas, one with 50 tanks and
850,000 gallons of storage and a second with 17 tanks and 250,000 gallons of
storage. Because of the critical nature of these storage areas, it was
imperative for EMCO to identify the right brand and style of pump that would be
used to unload railcars of raw materials and load totes, drums and IBCs with
finished products. For the answer, EMCO turned to its long-time distributor partner,
Anderson Process. Headquartered in Brookfield, WI, USA, since 1958
Anderson has been an industrial pump and hose distributor that provides
practical and cost-effective solutions for its customers.

“When EMCO wanted to expand, they knew us and came to me to
ask my thoughts on what pumping technologies to use,” said Joe Cervantes, Pump
Sales Engineer for Anderson Process. “They could have used gear pumps,
but, historically, gear pumps are just metal on metal. It’s just one of those
things where sliding vane has always been the pump style of choice for the
solvent industry or when pumping very thin liquids.”

More specifically, Cervantes recommended the GX Series Sliding
Vane Pump from Blackmer®, Grand Rapids, MI, USA, which is a member of the Dover
Corporation’s Pump Solutions Group (PSG®), Oakbrook Terrace, IL, USA.Besides the operational benefits of the GX
pumps—cast iron construction, compact design, excellent self-priming and
dry-run capabilities, adjustable relief valves, and easy maintenance and vane
replacement—they had two other important advantages going for them: they had
previously been used in EMCO’s North Chicago facility and they are proudly
“Made in the USA.”

“It helped that Blackmer is one of the only companies still around
with its own foundry, it’s located just over the pond (Lake Michigan) and it’s
an American company, while Mr. Polen is a very patriotic person,” explained

A True Team Effort Armed with that recommendation, EMCO put
in an initial purchase order for 74 3-inch GX Series pumps. But that’s hardly
where the relationship and cooperation between client, distributor and pump
supplier ended.

“The reason we went with Blackmer was its partnership with
Anderson,” said Korman. “It was a collaborative effort between all of us to
help in the design of the piping and instrumentation of the system at the new
facility. We completed a majority of the engineering in-house, so we relied on
suppliers to get us the information and answer the questions that were required
to do in-house design. We even went to the Blackmer facility and worked with them
to basically come up with the design of the whole pumping scheme. Blackmer set
the criteria and helped select the best pump to meet or achieve the flow rates we
needed. We try to buy as many American products as we can. We saw the foundry
at Blackmer, saw where the pumps were made and we liked what we saw.”

Because the storage areas were being designed from scratch,
the engineering team was able to specifically locate the pumps near the actual
tanks. This allows the pumps to perform at their highest level without the need
for long or complicated piping runs, while all of the pumps would benefit from
the incorporation of mass flowmeters and variable frequency drives (VFD), which
would be controlled by a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) in the computer
center. When the layout was agreed upon, Blackmer was able to deliver the pumps
as part of an Engineered Package Solution consisting of the pump, motor,
coupling and coupling guard, all of which were attached to a baseplate for easy

“We were able to locate the whole pump in its sweet spot so
it can perform at its best and still meet our pumping requirements in terms of
flow rate,” said Serdar. “We put a pressure switch on and we oversized the
motor with a VFD. As users call for product, the pump ramps up, and as the
order is filled, the pump slows down. It’s a very efficient way to pump. As far
as the maintenance side of it, it’s a very simple pump to take care of and

After eight months in operation, the Blackmer pumps have met
every expectation and need at the new facility.

“We get sales orders in continuously and fill most orders by
the next day, so you need pumps that won’t break down, and the Blackmer pumps
are reliable and versatile with the different products we use them on,” said
Korman. “We’re at 200 gallons a minute (flow rate) when we’re loading tankers,
but we also have the drum-filling area where we’re filling 55-gallon drums at
much slower flow rates. Traditionally, this may take two or three pumps to do
what we can accomplish with one pump.”

The cooperative team effort has extended to the after-sales service
that Anderson and Blackmer offer EMCO.

“When you buy the amount of pumps we’ve bought, you will
have some issues, but another reason for choosing Blackmer was the way they
have handled and stood behind their products,” said Korman. “We have created a
relationship where we can go right to the source. They even did training on
preventative maintenance and repair on-site for our maintenance guys.”

“I’ve been with EMCO for 32 years and all that time we’ve used
Blackmer pumps,” added Levy. “Our past history with Blackmer has been very
positive, but no project goes perfectly and Blackmer has stood behind us all
the way. That defines a team, how they handle it when there’s a problem and the
way Blackmer has handled it has been fabulous. They are a true partner.”


Dreams may begin with an individual thought, but they only
become reality through the assistance of many different constituencies. EMCO
Chemical Distributors has grown from Edward Polen’s solitary vision into one of
the world’s most significant chemical distributors, blenders and packagers.
Reaching his goals has required developing partnerships with a wide array of
outside forces. The result for EMCO is a shiny new distribution facility that
promises to keep the company at the forefront of its industry well into the future,
with the aid of distributors like Anderson Process and equipment
manufacturers like Blackmer.

“The moral of the story is that if you team up with the right
people and design systems per the requirements, you’re going to get a great
result, and in our situation it has exceeded our requirements,” said Korman.
“We will choose Blackmer in the future and are looking forward to working with
them on future projects. Their reliability and service have made them a partner

About the Author:

Jack Pitts is a Regional Manager – Great Lakes for
Blackmer®, Grand Rapids, MI, USA, and Pump Solutions Group (PSG®), Oakbrook
Terrace, IL, USA. He can be reached at (616) 475-9342 or For more information on Blackmer’s full line of innovative
and highquality rotary vane and centrifugal pump and reciprocating compressor
technologies, please go to
or call (616) 241-1611. Blackmer is a member of PSG®, which is comprised of
several leading pump brands, including Abaque®, Almatec®, Blackmer®, Ebsray®,
Finder, Griswold™, Maag, Neptune™, Mouvex®, Quattroflow™ and Wilden®. You can find
more information on PSG at

See the official PSG article here:

Blackmer EMCO Case Study -with Pictures

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