Fredonia business is a world leader in plugging pipes

Petersen Resources manufactures high-pressure equipment to repair pipes and tunnels for oil, gas and wastewater industries

PETERSEN RESOURCES OWNER Phil Lundman (left) stood next to a 40-inch inflatable plug with assemblers Sean Kennedy (center) and Richard Steffan. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press staff

Petersen Resources in Fredonia is a global leader in designing and manufacturing equipment to repair pipelines for oil and gas companies and the wastewater-treatment sector.

“It’s a real specialty and niche business. We like creating solutions,” owner Phil Lundman said. “We keep pushing the limit on the pressure.”

The company at 421 Wheeler Ave. manufactures high-pressure equipment that seals pipes, allowing crews to clear an obstruction without emptying the entire pipeline.

“That’s our claim to fame,” Lundman said, noting the business works with major tunnel and pipeline contractors in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and South America.

“We sell wherever there’s oil because our major market is with oil pipelines and refineries,” Lundman said.

The products the company makes include inflatable and mechanical pipe plugs, annular seals, grout and relining packers, sewer and drain flushers and lift cylinders and bags.

Petersen Resources is divided into two branches. Petersen Products runs the oil and gas pipeline division and Petersen Supply manages the wastewater branch.

“Our oil pipeline contractors push us. They want higher temperatures and higher flows to stop. On the wastewater end, they want cleaner water for less money,” Lundman said.

The company entered the wastewater industry in 1996. It installs and manages wastewater-treatment systems for Wisconsin Department of Transportation rest areas that are not connected to city water. It also does work in the Midwest, primarily in northern Illinois and Minnesota.

Last year, Lundman said, Petersen Supply installed the largest on-site wastewater distribution system in Minnesota.

“Instead of taking all the water into Lake Michigan or the Mississippi, we put it back in the ground clean,” he said.

The company tapped into the oil market in the late 1990s and was an industry leader by the early 2000s.

“When one major contractor starts using our system, somebody else hears about it. Our capabilities increased and we became more well known,” Lundman said. “It really isn’t that huge of an industry. There are several really big pipeline contractors and they all use our system all over the world.”

In 2010, Lundman was approached to help seal an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, which is considered the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Lundman said he did not pursue the endeavor because the risk was too great.

“At the time, we were too small to assume the liability. Nobody wanted to help them, and so Halliburton and BP figured out how to do it and published it for everybody to see,” Lundman said. “The world probably benefited from it because it never happened before and they figured out how to stop the flow.”

Lundman’s grandfather George Petersen founded the company in 1916 when he received a patent for a hydraulic flusher that connected to a garden hose. He developed the tool to help clear drains when he was working as butcher.

Over the years, the company was headquartered in Milwaukee, Tennessee and Pewaukee.

Lundman began managing the family business in 1969 after his father Phil died.

At the time, the company was a one-man operation, Lundman grew the business to 37 employees.

In 1974, the business moved to Fredonia because it needed more space for production.

The company remains a family business. Lundman’s daughter Naiomi Lundman works in marketing and finance. His daughter Natalie Birrittieri works in human resources and her husband Tony manages the wastewater-treatment branch.

Lundman said the industry is always expanding because of new technology, and he has more ideas for solutions.

“The opportunity now is greater than it’s ever been. We have a long list of things we like to do,” he said. “Even with the products we’re making, we believe every product and process has to have an improvement-migration path. We know where to go; it’s just a question of executing.

“We expect to continue to grow, innovate and create more solutions.”

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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