Duperon Lights Up the World

Saginaw, Michigan – A Saginaw County company is helping to keep the lights on halfway around the globe.

Duperon Corporation, with offices at 515 N. Washington in Saginaw, and an assembly plant at 3973 E. Washington in Buena Vista Township, last year began doing business in New Zealand – its first venture outside North America.

In addition, the Cassopolis-based Edward Lowe Foundation last year cited Duperon as one of 50 Michigan companies to watch.

Duperon provides water filtration and control equipment for municipal and industrial use, as well as compactors and conveyance systems.

It previously did work in the United States and Canada before becoming one of more than 10,000 Michigan companies that export goods.

Michigan’s export shipments in 2006 totaled $40.4 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Michigan exported to 195 destinations in 2006, with neighbor Canada the state’s largest foreign market. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. lists 47 Michigan companies exporting to New Zealand.

Crews with the 22-year-old Duperon and with their Te Awamutu, New Zealand partner – fabrication and assembly shop Stewart & Cavalier – installed equipment to prevent weeds from clogging the works at two hydroelectric power stations, in Tokaanu and Piripaua, said Sarah Bernier, international sales & marketing manager.

The weeds, non-indigenous plants that somehow entered New Zealand rivers, were threatening the power to residents in Auckland, the country’s largest city, she said.

“(New Zealand) had developed a weed condition that stalled their technology,” Bernier said.

Hydroelectric plants power about 60 percent of New Zealand, which has 70 major rivers.

An engineer for Genesis Energy researching online found Duperon’s equipment and traveled to Saginaw County to learn more.

Customer service work continues with the company, Bernier said.

“A lot of New Zealand power is faced with the same weed condition,” she said. “They are benchmarking our success at these two power plants.”

Success there may lead to more business in the country and in Australia.

“We just bid a job in Newcastle (Australia),” Bernier said.

Duperon staff members trained installers in New Zealand. The company plans to soon set up an independent sales group to serve New Zealand and Australia.

“The challenges are the time difference and providing the level of support we like,” Bernier said. “They’re ahead of us by 18 hours. It’s being there when they have a question.”