Al-Kel Alliance services Kelton customers
Mar 1, 2002 12:00 PM
THE Kelton Co was one of the casualties of the economic downturn that has affected so much of the tank truck industry over the past couple of years. The Dallas, Texas-based cleaning equipment manufacturer filed Chapter 7 liquidation and closed its doors on June 30, 2001.
Former customers haven't been left high and dry, though. Parts and service for the Kelton line are available through Al-Kel Alliance Inc. Ben Kelley, former owner of The Kelton Co, is executive vice-president at Al-Kel Alliance. Jim Alexander is the president and owner of Al-Kel Alliance.
Discussing his decision to shut down the operation, Kelley says it was a painful choice. However, demand for tank wash equipment had virtually evaporated. Very little new construction has occurred in the last couple of years, and dozens of existing wash racks have been mothballed.
“Consolidation in tank truck cleaning was simply greater than we anticipated,” he says. “A number of large fleets have closed their wash racks. We saw the breakup of a large commercial wash rack operator (Brite-Sol) last year.
“In hindsight, our biggest mistake over the past 10 years was focusing too narrowly on the tank cleaning sector. It was just too small a market. We couldn't diversify fast enough to fix the problem.
“While we built what we believe was a very good, very durable unit, we were a small manufacturer. We didn't have a lot of marketing resources.”
As many as 2,000 Kelton wash units of various types are still in operation. This includes 300 to 350 units that are in cargo tank cleaning service. At one time, Kelton had a very diverse customer base that included companies involved in solid waste pickup and oil well service.
Wash units weren't the only product offered by The Kelton Co. The manufacturer also designed and built wastewater treatment systems, mezzanine and scaffolding for wash racks, and flares for destruction of waste vapors.
The Kelton wash units that gained the greatest popularity with the tank truck industry are single-pass, high-pressure/low-volume units. However, the company also built recirculating vat-type units for tank washes and smaller pressure washers for exterior cleaning.
Replacement parts for all of these products are available through Al-Kel Alliance. A former Kelton employee joined Al-Kel Alliance to provide on-site service of Kelton equipment anywhere in North America.
Parts sales are being handled out of the Al-Kel Alliance facility in Hutchins, Texas, and the Southco operation in Sherman, Texas. Alexander says plans are under development to build a dedicated Kelton parts warehouse in Hutchins.
Al-Kel Alliance also plans to build new Kelton wash units. Orders are already pending, according to Alexander.
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