Before 1982 water and foam tanks for fire trucks were all made from steel or fiberglass. Both types of tanks had issues with leaks, corrosion, and weight. During this time, the Lynnfield Fire Department had problems with their pumper truck leaking due to rust and corrosion. Fellow firefighter and co-founder of UPF Allan Burnham approached Joe Lingel during the mid-’80s to brainstorm a plastic fabrication concept for a tank. Their brainstorming session resulted in their assets’ liquidation and the start of an entrepreneurial journey as polypropylene tank manufacturers of an industry that saves lives.
They decided to go the extra mile by doing extensive research and by testing polypropylene for the plastic fabrication of tanks. Copolymer polypropylene not only offered weight savings and avoided corrosion. This uniquely versatile material was much more than that. Also, this strong, lightweight plastic rendered a water tank with a lifetime warranty when welded using an extruded sheet.
Co-founder Allan Burnham delivered the new design and material of the first non-corrosive polypropylene tank, the Poly-Tank® by United Plastic Fabricating (UPF) to the Lynnfield Fire Department in 1982. In December of 1986, UPF opened its doors in North Andover, MA. Started by firefighters Joe Lingel and Allan Burnham, the first MA facility of plastic fabrication was 5,000 square feet. In 1992 the MA plant expanded to 35,000 square feet, including a complete design and engineering center. Combined with the Florida and Wisconsin manufacturing facilities, UPF had almost 230,000 square feet of facilities for plastic fabrication. In January of 2023 UPF consolidated MA manufacturing facility with our WI and Fl facilities, keeping Corporate Offices in Massachusetts.
Initially, Joe and Al were driving around the US to show their innovative solution to other fire departments and fire truck manufacturers. Soon enough, it became the industry standard. Most steel water tanks in the fire industry are a thing of the past. This is due to the obvious advantages and benefits of polypropylene tanks. Also, because we design and fabricate every product for the specific needs of our customers. From the highest quality products to the way we take care of our customers, UPF is second to none.
UPF started with just three employees. Today UPF employs over 200. UPF’s fire product line has significantly grown over the years. The company now manufacturers more than the Poly-Tank® internal tank for fire trucks. UPF makes wetside tanks, elliptical tanks, fire and rescue bodies, and skid units. UPF is also well known in the fire industry for its foam trailers. Additionally, UPF manufacturers industrial products, bodies for towing trucks, utility trucks, and toolboxes are all made out of non-corrosive, high-impact polypropylene.
UPF has proven in the past 35 years to be the best plastic fabrication company with outstanding customer service from the initial sale to delivery and support of the product. UPF provides a reliable product for the fire industry, with a lifetime warranty. In many cases, the polypropylene “waste” is butt welded together and we use it to make the additional product. We send unusable waste back to the polypropylene manufacturer for recycling purposes. The company has invested in CNC routers to increase efficiency and improve quality. We guarantee superior materials, cutting-edge production, and cutting-edge technology to offer the best plastic fabrication solutions on the market. Learn more about our technology.
Andrew Lingel, Joe Lingel’s son, started working at UPF in 2007. Over the years, Andrew spent time working in many of the departments at UPF. He proved to be a great problem solver learning each department’s processes and how they could work better together. After making significant improvements, Andrew became President in 2016. It was during this period that Andrew started the Lean Journey for UPF.
“Andrew has gained valuable experience over the past ten years working in and with various departments,” said Joe Lingel. “He has proven to be an asset within the organization, and his passion for enhancing processes and efficiency within the departments using lean initiatives has resulted in noticeable improvements.”
Based on the success that UPF has achieved in the fire and trucking industry, many of our customers requested the custom plastic fabrication of our tanks for different applications. Thus, we started to fabricate them to their specific needs. Many of our customers were satisfied with our tanks’ benefits for other industries such as marine & aquaculture, chemical processing, agriculture, food processing, medical industries, and more.
The rise of industrial customers led us to the decision to open up an industrial division. That’s when we introduced Custom Plastic Fabrications, LLC., to bring our copolymer polypropylene solutions to the industrial markets in 2020.
High-quality polypropylene tanks and components for stormwater, pesticide, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF tanks), houseboat hulls, custom pontoons, sewer jetter (hydroblasting) trucks are among the specialty plastic fabrication solutions we’ve been manufacturing for our industrial customers. We’ve also made anaerobic digesters and other wastewater treatment components for the pulp and paper industry.
The thought that the founders initially had is what continues to drive UPF. There are two choices: to continue to go down the same old road of “good enough” or to find the path to exactly what you want.
United Plastic Fabricating, Inc. will continue its vision with its innovative design and practical solutions by providing poly as an alternative for metal applications. Its polypropylene use as a cost-effective, longer-lasting material will undoubtedly find new markets to apply its principles to and expand its service worldwide.