As a leading manufacturer of high-pressure gas and liquid equipment, Haskel is deeply committed to high quality in all facets of their business. Haskel's rich network of distributors is key to upholding these standards in various industries across the world. Haskel recognizes the hard work their distributors put in and the important role they play in the company's success. To share appreciation for these partnerships, Haskel is highlighting some of their longtime distributors.
For more than 25 years, Haskel has partnered with American Airworks™, a breathing air products supplier in West Virginia, to bring high quality high-pressure equipment to the breathing air industry. American Airworks operates in a niche market, specializing in distribution of a unique subset of Haskel products. Below, Ray Lambert, American Airworks’ National Sales Manager & CEO, shares details about his distributor relationship with Haskel International.
How did you get started in the breathing air industry?
I became a professional firefighter in 1972 and was tasked with maintaining our department’s self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). We experienced long delays in getting service on our SCBA from the west coast factory; I saw this as a potential opportunity for a business. So, in 1979 I started a SCBA and SCUBA service business to provide users better service. It didn't take long to realize that SCBA and SCUBA service wasn't the only avenue of opportunity, and that's when I began selling products to support both types of the breathing apparatus.
Why did you choose to build a product relationship with Haskel instead of another provider?
I was leading a dive trip on a live-aboard boat in the Bahamas when I first learned about Haskel boosters. The divemaster would recharge our SCUBA tanks using a Haskel ScubAmp™ booster pump by simply removing our regulator from the tank and attaching a fill hose to our tank, and in no time the ScubAmp booster had our tank refilled. Back into the warm Bahamian waters we’d go!
It struck me how innovative Haskel’s technology was to the diving market. Not long after that I saw an article that showcased a similar Haskel booster being used on a mobile fire truck, designed for recharging SCBA cylinders on the fire scene. With my previous experience in firefighting, I immediately recognized the benefit this type of equipment would bring to fire service – benefits like less wear on smaller compressors, additional on-scene cylinder refills from static air stored in DOT cylinders or ASME vessels, faster filling process, greater air storage at higher pressures – and that's what prompted me to contact Haskel.
What advantages does Haskel bring to your niche market?
In terms of history and reputation in the market, I don't think there is a company that matches Haskel. Their name is highly respected in industrial applications, the scuba diving industry, and military diving operations. Haskel's strong reputation in the breathing air markets is an obvious advantage for us because it builds customer trust immediately.
Haskel also stays ahead of advancing markets with their innovations. They continuously work to make advancements that greatly benefit their equipment users. In hydrogen, for example, their engineers and sales team have brought to market a new hydrogen gas booster capable of high SCFM flows and pressures. This is very timely as global markets are looking for cleaner and less expensive energy sources. This new booster may be beneficial to our air customers in the future.
How has your distributor role evolved through your time with Haskel?
After working with Haskel a few years, we became certified to do service work on Haskel boosters. Haskel’s service manager held the training session on booster repair, overhaul and maintenance; the certification opened up even more service opportunities for us.
Being able to provide maintenance on the Haskel boosters we sell offers many benefits because Haskel produces such a sound product. The longevity of their design is a true competitive advantage. The product is so well-designed it hasn't needed modifications. The overhaul kit I use to service a 15-year-old booster is the same kit I use to service a booster a customer purchased last year. Customers can trust that they are buying original, time proven technology when they buy Haskel boosters. Haskel entered the market with the type of innovations that customers were looking for, and that same technology has held true since I've partnered with them.
As a certified Haskel distributor and service center, what services do you offer in-house to enhance equipment for customer use?
Working with Haskel both on service and distribution has allowed us the flexibility to create custom add-ons or accessories that pair with Haskel's equipment and give customers even greater benefits. We provide our end users, distributors and OEMs with custom air (gas) control panels and often plumb the control valves of the Haskel booster remotely to the panels so they are easily accessible. Operators in the industry typically buy breathing air, nitrogen and oxygen panels from us.
(Pictured right – this is a custom panel that would be installed on a new fire truck. This panel doesn't have a booster control valve but if it did it would look like the black on/off panel valves shown here.)
In house, we also design and fabricate custom racks to hold Haskel gas boosters, gas storage cylinders and a control panel.
(Pictured right - frame and control panel fabricated for an OEM in the gas service market)
With our distribution agreements, American Airworks stocks new Haskel boosters at our facility for resale to end users and other Haskel distributors when delivery times are critical. We maintain a good inventory of overhaul parts and kits for Haskel gas boosters, and we incorporate Haskel's extranet to build awareness among Haskel distributors of our available booster inventory for faster delivery.
One of our more unique products is our AviOxy Cart™ for the private aircraft owner or Fixed Base Operator (FBO) with facilities at an airport. This unit uses nitrogen gas from the gray cylinders, reduced in pressure to approximately 110 PSI, to power the booster. The green cylinder (pictured right) contains oxygen gas which is used to refill smaller aviation oxygen cylinders on board the aircraft. The pump also has the ability to be powered by a low-pressure industrial shop air compressor. This unit uses Haskel's 4AG25 pump cleaned for oxygen service. Our unit also allows the nitrogen gas to be used to inflate aircraft tires and pressurize aircraft struts with the accessory connections included and stored in the under belly compartment.
American Airworks™ is a certified Haskel gas booster service center. They offer technical assistance, troubleshooting and service of Haskel boosters to a variety of end users and distributors. Airworks operates a clean room which meets the CGA G-4.1 standards for oxygen gas service. They also sell ISO/UN/DOT compressed gas cylinders, 4500 - 6000 PSI, to OEMs and distributors which are used with Haskel gas booster applications. Airworks was recently honored by the West Virginia Governor’s Office for exporting their line of breathing air products. In the 38 years of business they have exported to more than 90 countries.