Saginaw Manufacturer Minimizes Impact of Future Hurricanes

Natural disasters bring people together, working to make a difference in the lives of those devastated by the occurrence. One Michigan Manufacturers' Association member in Saginaw is part of a process that helps minimize the devastation before it even occurs. Duperon Corporation is an engineering/manufacturing firm providing waterflow treatment solutions for municipal and industrial applications.

The company's products proved vital to keeping one Louisiana parish (municipality) above water in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The success of Duperon's products during some of the worst natural disasters to hit the U.S. has brought the company widespread recognition and opportunities for growth.

Duperon had 18 of its patented FlexRake barscreens installed in the hurricane stricken region. The mechanically-cleaned barscreens functioned flawlessly during the worst of the catastrophes, shielding pumps – vital to keeping parishes above water during storms – from debris that could have clogged or damaged them.

There was so much water flowing through the area that "pumps were running all day, 24 hours, for a month," said Paul Klingman, spokesperson for Associated Pump Systems – Duperon's representative company in Houma, Louisiana.

"These are pumps that only switch on during a storm event so this was a lot of run time. They were always clear. It (the FlexRake) truly performed up to and beyond our expectations," added Klingman.

As part of the relief effort, Associated Pump "mobilized huge pumps and worked tirelessly, day and night," said Tammy Bernier, Duperon vice president. "They saw heartbreaking tragedy, but still stood for their community… we would expect nothing less."

"Louis Klingman, Paul Klingman and their crew were an incredible force in the days immediately following the storm," Bernier said. "The team assisted in dewatering New Orleans and was a source for many replacement pumps."

In the face of disaster, opportunity was born. On behalf of Duperon, Associated Pump reached out to other storm-ravished areas offering assistance.

"Parishes were eager for help," said Sarah Bernier, Duperon sales and marketing manager. "Our assistance and equipment was sought and sourced by two neighboring parishes: St. Charles and Terrebonne.

"Going forward, Duperon representatives are leveraging relationships with key decision makers in the south to incorporate other products into the region's pumping systems.

The exceptional performance of the machines has not gone unnoticed. Large engineering firms across the U.S. are taking notice of the design and capabilities of the FlexRake and it has been incorporated into flood protection plans in several areas. As a result, Duperon has had to reorganize its production schedule in order to accomodate building the additional units.

Recognition has also come in the form of awards. Duperon was recognized in 2006 as one of the Edward Lowe Foundation's "Michigan 50 Companies to Watch" and has been noted as a company to watch in Louisiana as well. Other awards include Economic Excellence in Saginaw County, awarded by Saginaw Future, Inc. for 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Duperon, which was established in 1985 by Terry Duperon, currently operates in international markets offering products that manage wastewater, storm water, raw water intakes, beautification and barriers for fish, manatees and other aquatic life. Beyond the FlexRake, the company also designs and produces the Self-Cleaning Trashrack, which removes large, cumbersome items and smaller, matted debris ranging from large logs to leaves, aquatic vegetation and general refuse. In response to customer needs, Duperon has also developed complementary product lines such as controls, conveyors and compactors.

The company employs nearly 30 people and has been growing sales at a rate of 25 percent for the past five years.