Altoona Scores a New Pump Plant for the Marcellus

Gardner Denver, a 150 year-old global manufacturer of industrial compressors, blowers, pumps, loading arms and fuel systems has a new manufacturing facility to add to the 40 it already owns around the world. The new 70,000 foot facility is located at Tipton, near Altoona, PA. The new plant will manufacture and repair pumps used in hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Gardner Denver expects to employ 100 people at the new plant within a year.

But why locate the plant in Altoona, where there’s very little nearby drilling?

The pumps companies use to free natural gas from Marcellus shale operate at high pressure and often break down.

Gardner Denver makes and fixes pumps, and wanted a bigger share of the fracking business, so it asked its Marcellus customers in Pennsylvania what to do.

Get local, because we’re not going to send our broken pumps to Florida or Texas, the firms replied.

Gardner Denver dedicated a 70,000-square-foot, $15 million plant in Tipton on Thursday that it built based on that advice.

Blair County is the beneficiary of Gardner Denver’s decision not because its has an abundance of Marcellus – it’s only on the western fringes, along the Allegheny Plateau – but because of its central location.

Gardner Denver officials looked at first at Williamsport to the northeast and then to Washington County in the southwest, both drilling hotspots.

Then it looked in the middle, on the suggestion of company CEO Barry Pennypacker, a Penn State graduate and Royersford native.

Altoona made sense, because it was two hours from each hotspot, said a consultant who spoke at the dedication.*

*Altoona Mirror (May 11, 2012) – Gardner Denver dedicates plant in Enterprise Campus