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Irrigation, PVF & Waterworks Executive Message

Scott Bardreau Vice President


The Irrigation Show in San Antonio, Texas from November 27 to December 1 brings the brightest minds and the latest innovations in irrigation to one place. This year, as in years past, Ted Havel and I look forward to attending and meeting with both current and future IMARK Irrigation suppliers and members. Attendees will be making an investment in their business and their careers, while spending an exciting, jam-packed week with friends and associates. IMARK suppliers K-Rain and ADS are two of the featured sponsors of this year’s event and we look forward to spending time with them.

The IA Show supports special initiatives, its members and the irrigation industry through professional certification, ensuring industry standards and codes reflect best practices and influencing water-use public policy at local, state, regional and the national level.

Water is a precious and scarce resource that is essential for life and agriculture. However, traditional old school irrigation practices often wastewater, increase costs, and harm the environment. To address these challenges, the irrigation industry is adopting innovative technologies that optimize water use, enhance efficiency, and promote sustainability.

Many of the top irrigation trends for 2023 will be on display by our IMARK suppliers and other emerging technology companies.

One of the trends that is gaining popularity is crop and soil sensors. These devices enable precise monitoring of moisture levels and nutrient content in the soil, as well as crop health and growth. By using data from sensors, farmers can adjust irrigation schedules and amounts according to the needs of each crop, rather than applying water uniformly at set times and quantities. This reduces water wastage, improves crop yield and quality, and saves energy and labor1.

Another trend that is revolutionizing irrigation is micro-irrigation. IMARK supplier DIG and others incorporate this product in their offering to deliver water directly to the plant roots through drip or sprinkler systems, rather than flooding the entire field or spraying water from above. Micro-irrigation reduces water loss due to evaporation, runoff or deep percolation, and also minimizes weed growth, soil erosion, and salinity problems1. Micro-irrigation can also be combined with fertigation, which is the application of fertilizers dissolved in water, to further enhance nutrient uptake and efficiency.

In conclusion, the irrigation industry is undergoing a transformation driven by technological innovations that optimize water use, enhance efficiency and promote sustainability. These trends have significant implications for farmers, consumers, policymakers and the environment. By adopting these technologies, the irrigation industry can contribute to solving the global water crisis and ensuring food security for a growing population.


In this issue of IMARK Today, we feature the story of two Industrial PVF distribution vets that purchase California-based Ace Stainless Supply at height of pandemic, focus on service and e-commerce propels success.

For Ed Long and Tom Murphy, the decision was almost a no-brainer. And if you’ve seen the way the two are transforming the 40-year-old stainless pipe, valves, fittings distributor—Ace Stainless—since purchasing the company in 2020, you’d be shocked to know it’s just a team of about 10 people behind the major growth.

Both Long and Murphy spent more than a decade with Long Beach, California-based Columbia Specialty Co. up until the company was acquired by Phoenix, Arizona-based Tri Star Industrial in the fall of 2020. The business day before the acquisition was final, Long and Murphy were let go, and after 12 years working together, found themselves wondering what was next, assuming that whatever it was, it meant the two would no longer be working together.

Just three days after being let go—on the following Monday afternoon—Murphy received a phone call from a trusted industry friend telling him about Ace Stainless. Ace’s current owners did not have a succession or exit plan, and they were ready to retire and be out of the business.

And just like that, Long flew back down to southern California from his home in Sacramento on Wednesday. Long and Murphy waited until closing time that day and went to visit Ace Stainless, immediately seeking out the owners. The husband and wife co-ownership duo gave the guys a tour of the facility.

“That night over a beer, Tom and I sketched out a business plan and put together an evaluation of the business,” Long explains.

Murphy adds that they did not have much experience yet in mergers and acquisitions. “We knew the sellers were motivated, so we put together what we felt was a fair evaluation of the company’s worth.” This is where the new Ace Stainless’ story begins—in late 2020, Murphy and Long had officially become business owners.

Murphy is now Ace’s CEO while Long is the company’s president and CFO. Since taking over less than two full years ago, the two have propelled Ace Stainless to grow seven times over its original value.


In this month’s issue of IMARK Today, you’ll find a feature on an exciting new IMARK Waterworks supplier, Sigelock. Sigelock is the parent company of Spartan Fire Hydrants and is revolutionizing the underground utility market. Retired firefighter George Sigelakis, founder and creator of the Sigelock Spartan Hydrant, saw a need to redesign the conventional fire hydrant after learning how easy it was to access them, steal water and damage the hydrant to the point of making it inoperable. Mr. Sigelakis, a 15-year veteran New York City firefighter, started with the New York Fire Department in 1988. He retired in 2001, before 9/11, but his firehouse in Brooklyn (Ladder 118/Engine 205), was the first to cross the Brooklyn Bridge to get to the World Trade Center.

The new model is made of a mixture of stainless steel and ductile iron. Its powder coating makes it resistant to rust and corrosion. The model is impenetrable without the Sigelock opening tool, which prevents unauthorized uses of the hydrant.

Residents of communities where the Spartan Hydrants are being installed are all expressing a mix of puzzlement and bemusement about futuristic-looking devices that have begun to replace traditional fire hydrants in their neighborhoods. Residents’ dogs are particularly confused. Folks everywhere refer to the new hydrants as “minions” for their uncanny resemblance to the cute troublemakers from the animated film Despicable Me.

But these strange-looking devices represent the first significant upgrade in fire hydrants since before the U.S. Civil War and offer a major enhancement of fire safety in the community. Fire Department personnel across the country are saying, “They allow us to get water on the fire quicker; they also provide an increase in water flow.”

Spartan hydrants are being used in communities stretching from Long Beach, N.Y., to Ft. Lauderdale, FL., to cities in Colorado.

Fire Hydrants evolved over many centuries from cauldrons and cisterns user to store water in strategic locations to get water onto a fire as fast as possible to water mains constructed from hollowed out logs. The term “fire plug” refers to firefighters drilling a hole into a wooden water main to access the municipal water supply then sealing the main with a wooden plug.

Over time wooden water mains were replaced by cast iron mains and pressurized municipal water supplies. Standpipes carried by firefighters to the scene of a fire then temporarily attached to a water main were replaced with pillar-type hydrants of cast iron, resembling those in use today, permanently attached to the water mains. The type of fire hydrant most familiar to people in the United States are various versions of the Mathews Improved model patented in 1858.

And while conventional fire hydrants have many common design flaws, the most obvious is that the operating nut on the top of the bonnet is exposed. Anyone with a simple pipe wrench can open a hydrant and gain access to the water supply.

The Spartan shields the operating nut inside a ductile iron clamshell that can only be accessed with the Sigelock all-in-one wrench. If contractors, vandals, kids playing in the street can’t open the hydrant and potentially damage it, then that makes it more secure for first responders during an emergency.

The Spartan is manufactured by Sigelock Systems based in Oceanside, NY with a plant in Franklin, PA.