Hose Solutions, Inc., (HSI) provides specialized hoses designed to move water, wastewater, concrete slurries, fuels, and other liquids. Its products are durable, flexible, and noncorrosive, providing an alternative to rigid pipes made of traditional materials like steel or PVC. In this interview, Jim Lowry, HSI’s business development and operations manager, tells us about the distinctive qualities and advantages that make HSI’s products attractive to customers from Alaska to Antarctica.
Irrigation Leader: Please tell us about your background and how you came to be in your current position.
Jim Lowry: Prior to joining HSI, I worked in the heavy equipment industry. This afforded me the opportunity of interacting with a wide variety of manufacturers, distributors, and end users. Interestingly, I continue to work with companies and contacts from these sectors in my position today. Understanding the selling cycle from my experience with those market segments really has benefited me with regard to the responsibilities I have at HSI.
Irrigation Leader: Please tell us about HSI and its history.
Jim Lowry: HSI was founded in Arizona in 2000. The business is the product of an international history dating back to the late 1800s; the family has a history of involvement with weaving, which is a critical part of manufacturing the company’s specialized high-pressure hoses. While remaining focused on technological improvements, the company has always emphasized working with suppliers and customers to form long-term and strategic relationships. Today, HSI is internationally recognized as a leader in innovation, quality, and responsiveness.
Irrigation Leader: Please tell us about HSI’s product line.
Jim Lowry: The best way to look at our product line is to consider the applications our products are used for, including potable water transportation, dewatering, irrigation, firefighting, and fuel transfer. Our hoses can be anywhere from 1 to 12 inches in diameter, depending on the product line and the specific uses they are designed for. The tensile strength of the different types of hoses varies according to the product, and it is the tensile strength that determines a hose’s pressure rating and how it can ultimately be used.
The company’s most popular products today are Boreline FlexiRiser and Mineflex. Boreline FlexiRiser is a flexible drop pipe designed to replace the rigid pipes used with submersible pumps. Rather than install submersible pumps on threaded 20-foot sticks of steel pipe that corrode and scale over time, Boreline offers water utilities the option of lowering their pump on one continuous length of pipe—in some cases, down to a depth of 1,000 feet. While its major advantages include ease of installation and resistance to corrosion, the real benefit of Boreline is that it will reduce energy consumption considerably and make a massive contribution to your bottom line.
HSI has also developed an amazing tool, the Pump Puller, to assist with installing submersible pumps on Boreline. The unit is a trailer-mounted hydraulic spool system designed to install and retrieve pumps at the push of a button. The advantage of this Pump Puller is that work can be performed off site in the controlled environment of your yard. When ready to install, you simply drive out to the site, back up to the well, and install and retrieve pumps at the push of a button. This is ideal for remote locations or locations at which you encounter overhead or other site restrictions, or for customers who just want to get their pump in or out of the well quickly, safely, and efficiently. This Pump Puller is available from HSI for sale or rent.
Mineflex is a high-pressure dewatering hose used extensively in the mining and fracking industries, where miles of hose need to be deployed and retrieved quickly and efficiently.
Our Fuelflex hose is a fuel transfer hose that is used for civilian and military applications and has been deployed in Antarctica for ship-to-shore refueling.
In addition to water utilities and industrial and mining users, we have agricultural customers who use our products to pump water from rivers, to irrigate fields, to pump water from one pond to another, to fill stock or storage tanks, or to supply farm implements like sprayers.
Irrigation Leader: Does the company have patents on its products?
Jim Lowry: No. It’s difficult to patent a hose that can be used in different environments. What the company has done is simply to focus on producing a high-quality hose with exceptional performance characteristics—bigger, better, and tougher than anything else that was available—and then to back it up with superior customer service. This approach has worked, leading to a growing product line.
Irrigation Leader: How does the Boreline FlexiRiser, which has a submersible pump hanging from it, stand up to the torque of the pump motor?
Jim Lowry: You’ve touched on a question that many people ask. We start off by explaining that we recommend a centralizer kit that is installed above the pump. This is a simple rubber spider that prevents the top of the pump from touching the side of the casing.
A more in-depth explanation would focus on the fact that there will always be water inside the column, at least up to static water level. When the pump is switched on, there will be a partial rotation in the direction of the pump. The weight and pressure of the water flowing up the column will bring the pump and FlexiRiser back to their original position, where they will remain during operation, behaving like a rigid column. The largest pump we ever installed on a Boreline FlexiRiser had a 296-horsepower motor!
Irrigation Leader: Who are your customers, and where are they located?
Jim Lowry: Our customers are all over the world, including in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and East Asia. In fact, we have sold our products from the Alaskan north coast all the way to Antarctica. Our team includes engineers who are fluent in a variety of languages, which is a major advantage considering our international market reach. We sell to small water utilities and cities as well as to remote towns and villages. We also visit large open-pit and underground mines, farms, and environmental Superfund sites. We also supply water-bottling companies, breweries, and soft drink companies. We have even sold to NASA!
In terms of marketing, we run a lean but highly effective operation, relying heavily on relationships with distributors, both domestically and internationally. Recently, we have been developing regional and strategic distributorships here in the United States to expand our presence in key markets.
Irrigation Leader: What are the advantages of HSI’s flexible hose products?
Jim Lowry: We believe in our products and their contribution to our customers’ bottom lines, as do our thousands of new and repeat customers around the globe. We are always looking for ways to increase customers’ awareness of our products and their many efficiencies. This is particularly important in the case of Boreline FlexiRiser, a product we have been manufacturing since 1990 but which is still viewed as a fairly new product in the industry.
However, the real advantage of working with us is that you get the HSI package. This includes the most knowledgeable experience in the drop pipe industry the world over, with access to a vast network of industry professionals in the water well and related industries that we can easily tap into. We are not only focused on how our products directly benefit our customers but on the long-term contribution we can make to their water systems and bottom lines.
Irrigation Leader: What are the company’s top issues today?
Jim Lowry: One challenge confronting HSI today is the lack of awareness about the contribution of the FlexiRiser to potential users’ bottom lines. Boreline FlexiRiser is honestly a no brainer, and its contributions are not limited to its product-specific advantages. Installing pumps on FlexiRiser contributes to the successful and efficient running of an entire well field operation, benefiting the installers, engineers, and even the financial controllers, who are focused on the bottom line. Everyone realizes the benefits pretty quickly.
We are confident that as this information continues to spread, the groundwater industry will come to understand the value of HSI. We have begun to see dramatic growth with small municipalities, farmers, and ranchers in rural areas, part of which is attributable to word of mouth. Because our product is a permanent solution, we count on these sorts of referrals—frankly, that goes to the heart of our deep commitment to customer service.
Irrigation Leader: What is your vision for the future?
Jim Lowry: Our customers place great trust in HSI, so it is imperative that we continue offering cutting-edge products, knowledge, and solutions and that we are always available for discussions regarding anything related to the groundwater industry. This is our domain, and we are committed to being the premier source of information and to being able to assist with any inquiry we receive. HSI has never been willing to rest on past accomplishments, and we are constantly looking for new solutions to evolving challenges. We keep on trying, learning, and gathering more experience, and we never give up.