Since its humble beginnings building aircraft parts in its founder's basement, Ralph S. Alberts Company Inc. has continued to evolve in accordance with the community's needs.
"It's grown and changed a lot," Vice President Seth E. Alberts said of the business, which began in the mid-1960s in his grandfather's basement and has grown to 85 employees and a 55,000-square-foot manufacturing space.
One of the business's first jobs was building seating and padding devices for Hershey Park's amusement rides.
"Now, about 50 percent of our gross business is seating and padding devices for the amusement park industry," Alberts said.
The company's latest venture, providing containment liners for the oil and gas industry, has opened up a new field of opportunity. Alberts said the company began working on the idea about two years ago.
"We tried to figure out how we could get involved doing work for the gas industry," he said.
Alberts found a need for a more durable, environmentally-friendly containment liner, which was developed in late 2009/early 2010. The liner can be used for either primary or secondary containment. As primary containment, the liner is used to line well pads, standing as the first line of defense against spills. As secondary containment, the liner is laid under tanks and surrounded by a barrier wall.
The liner was meant to replace the tarp companies were using for containment jobs, which didn't last very long and was prone to wrinkles and tears.
"A lot of those (tarp) liners are severely damaged during the drilling process," Alberts said.
In addition, the tarps have to be thrown away after use.
The new containment liner from Ralph S. Alberts Co. Inc. offers several advantages.
"It provides a safer working environment," Alberts said.
The liner is made from a fabric covered with a spray Polyurea coating that adheres to the fabric, essentially creating a large mat. The map is wrinkle-free and durable, preventing trips and slips.
"It is 100-percent environmentally-friendly," Alberts said. "It contains no HAPs (hazardous air pollutants) or VOCs (volatile organic compounds)."
In addition, the liner can be cut into sheets and relocated. Smaller containments can be used two or three times, depending on weather, traffic and other factors, while secondary containment liners are permanent and made to withstand the life span of a job of 15 or more years.
The company has been installing the liners since June 2010, and while only a few gas companies took initial interest, others have been catching on.
"People are definitely starting to see the benefits of using this type of liner," Alberts said.
The success of the liner has allowed the company to grow, and Alberts plans to hire another five-to-10 employees by summer to work specifically in the containment liner division.
At the same time, the company continues to forge ahead in the areas it has carved out for itself, such as building seating for amusement parks. The company has developed and trademarked a ride padding system and also works in medical simulation.
"Other areas of our business continue to grow, too, outside of the gas division," Alberts said.
But as the gas industry continues to find its footing in the Lycoming County area, Alberts said, the company is hoping for the best.
"This has potential to be just as large," he said. "It continues to create jobs in our area, and it's helping to protect our environment."