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Who Controls the Largest PE Pipe Manufacturers in North America?


by PPN Editor | 5th June 2023

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe manufacturers play a crucial role in supplying the North American market with reliable piping solutions for various industries. Understanding the ownership and control dynamics within this sector is essential for gaining insight into the industry’s structure and the factors influencing its operations.

In North America, HDPE pipe manufacturers can generally be classified into two categories: those owned or controlled by resin manufacturers, and those independent of resin manufacturers. This article will delve into the major players in the North American HDPE pipe manufacturing industry and their ownership structures.

“Converters,” as pipe manufacturers are generally referred, because they convert resin to pipe, include two category manufacturers which are 1) Solid Wall – pressure pipe (water and wastewater) and 2) Corrugated – mainly storm water pipe which operated under gravity flow.

There are generally two types of HDPE pipe manufacturers in North America – those companies that are owned or controlled by resin manufacturers, and those that are free to choose the resin they want to use.

Several prominent HDPE pipe manufacturers in North America are owned or controlled by resin manufacturers. These companies have a close relationship with the manufacturer of the resin they use and are often vertically integrated. Let’s take a closer look at a few examples:

  • WL Plastics owned by Ineos
  • Performance Pipe owned by Chevron Phillips
  • JM Eagle with family connections to Formosa

WL Plastics is a leading North American manufacturer of HDPE pipe for the energy, industrial, mining, conduit, and municipal water and sewer markets, WL Plastics has
been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ineos Olefins & Polymers, the third largest North American HDPE and PP supplier, since its 2016 acquisition. WL currently operates seven state-of-the-art manufacturing locations in the USA.

Performance Pipe, a division of Chevron Phillips Chemical, is headquartered in Plano, Texas is the largest producer of polyethylene piping products in North America..

JM Eagle with 22 plants in North America, the company manufactures HDPE pipe for a variety of industries including utility, plumbing, electrical, natural gas, irrigation, potable water, drainage, and sewage uses resin from Formosa Plastics.

Pipeline Plastics is a notable player in the North American HDPE pipe manufacturing industry. Based in Westlake, Texas, the company holds the distinction of being the largest Solid Wall converter in the United States that is not owned by a resin company. As an independent manufacturer, Pipeline Plastics has the flexibility to choose the resin it uses for its HDPE pipe production.

With a focus on solid wall pressure pipes for water and wastewater applications, Pipeline Plastics has established a strong presence in the market. The company’s manufacturing facilities are equipped with advanced technologies to ensure the production of high-quality pipes that meet industry standards.

By being independent of resin manufacturers, Pipeline Plastics can source resins from various suppliers, allowing them to select the materials that best suit their customers’ needs. This flexibility enables the company to adapt to changing market demands and provide tailored solutions to their clients.

In addition to Pipeline Plastics, there are other independent HDPE pipe manufacturers in North America. These companies operate outside the realm of resin manufacturer ownership and have the freedom to choose their resin suppliers. This independence gives them the ability to explore a wide range of resin options and select the most suitable materials for their specific applications.

The independent HDPE pipe manufacturers often compete with the resin manufacturer-owned companies, offering customers an alternative choice in the market. Their ability to select resins from different suppliers and their focus on providing specialized solutions contribute to the diversity and competitiveness of the industry.

It is important to note that the ownership and control dynamics within the North American HDPE pipe manufacturing industry may evolve over time. Acquisitions, mergers, and other strategic decisions can lead to changes in ownership structures and relationships between manufacturers and resin suppliers. Staying informed about the industry’s developments is crucial for understanding the competitive landscape and identifying key players.

In conclusion, the largest HDPE pipe manufacturers in North America are divided into two categories: those owned or controlled by resin manufacturers and those independent of resin manufacturers. While companies like WL Plastics, Performance Pipe, and JM Eagle have close ties to resin manufacturers, there are also notable players like Pipeline Plastics that operate independently. Understanding the ownership structures and control dynamics within this industry provides valuable insights into its functioning and helps stakeholders make informed decisions.

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