PRO-LINE FITTINGS SPOTLIGHT: Theo Pella, LS6 – Fabrication & Innovation Manager
In this second Q&A in our series on the people of Pro-Line fittings, we talked to Theo Pella our Fabrication and Innovation Manager. Theo heads up our Custom Fabrication efforts, a part of our business that we are very proud of. Our customers depend on us to solve complex problems in their projects, and people like Theo are the reason we are able to rise to the challenge, again and again.
Where are you from and what is your educational/professional background?
I hail from a very small midwestern town in the United States. I moved to Canada ten years ago now. I bring over 15 years of manufacturing experience to Proline.
What are you best known for, professionally or otherwise?
Honest, caring, and funny. At my core I consider myself a “maker”.
What is Custom Fabrication?
Fabrication in general is to start out with raw materials and end up with a finished product when you are done. Custom fab usually entails that normal manufacturing or off the shelf products won’t get the job done. So sometimes you need to think outside the box or to step back and look at the issue from a different perspective.
What do you love about Custom Fabrication?
I love finding elegant solutions to complicated problems.
What need does custom fabrication solve for our customers?
It gives them options. A lot of custom work is done when you are retro fitting into an existing structure. Certain pipelines or roads are already in place, existing buildings and so on, so many times it’s trying to fit within those parameters.
What does Innovation in fabrication mean to you?
Obviously, the easy answer would be “new and/or improved”, but really it can come down to something as simple as structure or procedures. I’m constantly looking at our own structure and looking at ways to improve it. Whether it’s the direction or flow of the parts coming and going in the department. Little changes can lead to big savings. Not just in costing, but in time, the true metric. We do all we can to reduce our lead times on our fabricated units.
What part or fitting do you like the most?
There are a couple that I have come up with myself, but if I was building one thing, it would have to be an Inline BackWater Valve. It uses up almost all the skills a fabricator has, to make them. They take time to make, from start to finish, there’s a lot of man hours in fabricating them.
Can you recall a project that you really enjoyed completing?
Some of the really large Flow Control systems we have built, with 24”, 27” or even a 36” diameter pipe. Some have been 12-13 feet long and 6 feet wide, weighing in over 1200 lbs (550kg). So the challenges are how to work on items this large and this heavy. When these projects are finalized, crated up, on the back of a flatbed and pulling out of our yard, then I’m happy.
Where do you see the waterworks industry in 5 years?
Hard to say, with the push in the housing markets nationwide to build more houses, there will be a need for major waterworks projects to take place. On the other hand, you are seeing a big push for ‘Going Green’. What is that going to look like for large infrastructure projects, for cities and municipalities. And for businesses to follow suit.
What are some of the ways you’ve seen COVID19 affect the industry?
Like all aspects on the planet right now and looking to the unseeable future, is supply chains. Anywhere from PVC to make the pipe and fittings, to pipe glue, to certain rubber products. Anything and everything you can think of and not think of are or will be in short supply. We even ran out of cheap little brushes that we apply our glue with, at one point.
Do you have a hobby?
Having spent 9 years as a hockey dad and team manager for my son’s minor hockey team, now that he has stopped playing, I have found so much more spare time, especially on the weekends. I’m an avid Liverpool FC fan (English Premier League) and I’ve taken up model making again. It was something I really enjoyed as a kid. During the covid lockdown last year I decided to get back into it.