Soon after the 20th century began, infrastructure projects in America’s growing cities started to take off. Two young men saw it as an opportunity, and they built a company to deal with it. The Cretex Companies and subsidiaries are a private, family-owned, diversified group of manufacturers celebrating a centennial this year.

L.D. Bailey and D.W. Longfellow had a vision of the advantages that a comprehensive and reliable transportation system could provide for economic development. They knew that their knowledge of concrete drainage products had the potential to support the developing demand for capital improvement projects. In the 100 years since, their vision has taken Cretex Companies, Inc. to excellence in the fields of medicine, aerospace and defense, infrastructure and industry.

A Precocious Beginner

For the first three years of its life as a company, Cretex Specialty Products operated within the framework of Waukesha Concrete Products, then a part of the Cretex Companies. Waukesha Concrete’s purpose was to produce precast manholes, box culverts, pipe and other specialty precast concrete products. By 1983, Cretex Specialty Products had achieved status as a division of Waukesha Concrete Products.

Showing early signs of the success that would surely follow, the fledgling company chose the suburbs of Milwaukee as the site for the installation of its first product, the internal manhole chimney seals. Inspired by the reception of its initial offering, Cretex Specialty Products put the external manhole chimney seals on the market within two years.

Gaining Recognition

A presentation by CH2M Hill of the findings of the Sewer System Evaluation Survey had demonstrated the need for the development of the seal, and Cretex Specialty Products responded with creativity, innovation and dedicated effort. The presentation to the Milwaukee Water Pollution Abatement Program outlined a significant problem occurring as a result of manhole chimney inflow.

Working together, the staffs of CH2M Hill and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District found that manholes were a major source of the excess clear water that was entering the sanitary sewer system. The seals were the remedy for a manhole problem and the solution to an environmentally challenging situation. Resolving the issue allowed the young company to show its mettle and start to establish a reputation that still distinguishes it in the early 21st century.

Building a Process

After only three years, Cretex Specialty Products headed for a future with much greater promise than its humble beginnings could have predicted.While operating out of only 3,200 square feet of combined warehouse and office space, the company had facilities that could hardly have been leaner. Remaining faithful to the company’s beginnings, according to general manager Lee R. Haessig, “We still maintain a lean operation.” However, we have “a dedicated independent rep network and distributor partners throughout the United States and Canada,” he added.

The Bailey-Longfellow partnership dreamed of meeting significant challenges with new solutions, and the tradition continues with superior engineering, great products and excellent management. A commitment to respect the founders’ spirit of innovation and the resources to make technological advances a reality honor the company’s long-standing traditions. As a market leader with products for construction and rehabilitation that eliminate manhole inflow and infiltration, the company has a reputation that stands for the highest standards of quality and longevity.

Respecting Company Traditions

Dedication to developing quality manhole solutions remains as critical in meeting 21st century needs as it was 100 years earlier. “We offer solutions and cost savings for inflow and infiltration with our chimney seals,” Haessig said in describing the company’s long-term success. “We develop quality products that stand the test of time with our 25- and 50-year warranties. We install products that are going to be in place for a long time.” As a manufacturer that fills a need in a niche market, “we create the most superior manhole grade adjustment systems available anywhere as the most advanced alternative to concrete grade rings,” he said

Sealing the Deal

More than an expression, “sealing the deal” means the end of concerns about infiltration and inflow problems. Passing the ASTM C 1244 Vacuum Test and exceeding the requirements of ASTM C 877 Type II, the flexible watertight barrier comes ready to install for a permanent, positive seal. Steel straps compress the mastic on the underside of the collar into the manhole or pipe surface to create a watertight seal.

Adapting to Fit Any Shape

Versatility is a key to the remarkable success of the Cretex external joint wrap collar. Any configuration of joints can accept the collar, even many that are considered hard to fit, but they pose no challenge for the versatile product. Manholes as well as round, elliptical, oval and arched pipe accept the seal without any problem.

Tongue and groove joints, as well as bell and spigot joints, fall right in line by performing correctly with the wrap. It works equally well with or without jointing materials on wet or dry surfaces. With no need for field cuts or messing with primers or open flames, installation is a simple and straightforward process. Installers can have the assurance that a one-time fix takes care of problems permanently.

Ensuring Flexibility

One of the great advantages of the external joint wrap is its flexibility. Advanced engineering developed a collar that uses multiple layers to create a strong and impenetrable bond. Creating a watertight barrier without flexibility is a near impossibility, and experience is probably the best illustration of the effectiveness of the Cretex external joint wrap. A significant benefit to construction or rehabilitation projects is its ability to accept the joints that may show signs of damage. A pipe that may otherwise get rejected can perform flawlessly with a functionally superior flexible wrap, saving money on a job and preventing waste.

Going for Perfection

Sealing a joint against infiltration is only half of the goal that Cretex Specialty Products want its customers to achieve. The other half is that the product makes it possible for installers to forget about it and have the assurance that the seal is positive and sound. Steel straps secure the wrap on both sides of a joint and make sure that the mastic affixes securely to ensure a permanent watertight barrier. Compounding the effectiveness of the process, the material in the wrap is highly resistance to acids and corrosion.