It's a classic American success story: a young man thinks he can build a better mousetrap, works very hard, and becomes a leader in his field. Forty years ago Forrest Shook had that dream, and today his NLB Corp. is known around the world for innovative high pressure waterjetting equipment that makes contractors more productive.
NLB manufactures the waterjet industry's most comprehensive line of high pressure pump units and accessories. Dozens of dedicated and convertible pump units give users a choice of operating pressures from 4000 psi to 40,000 psi, with a wide range of flows and horsepower (100 to 600 hp). Teamed with NLB's 400-plus specially-designed accessories, from handheld lances and nozzles to fully-automated systems, they make short work of virtually any product removal job.
The philosophy behind this ever-expanding product line is summed up in the NLB mission statement:
'To provide state-of-the-art high pressure waterjetting equipment, systems, and accessories of the highest quality and reliability; to solve the most difficult cleaning and cutting problems of our global industrial and contractor customers. In pursuit of this mission, we will emphasize operator and environmental safety in all of our product designs and business practices.'
From humble beginnings in a Flint, MI, garage, NLB has become a prolific waterjet solutions provider and, since 2007, a key part of the $600-million Interpump Group. Shook, the company's founder and chairman, credits its success to hard work and innovation.
'Everything we've accomplished is the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people/' he says. 'The basic idea is pretty simple: you have to understand the problems your customers face, figure out how to solve them, and keep delivering better-and-better solutions.' Making Water Work
NLB decided early on that its job was not just to build better pumps, but to 'Make Water Work' for customers. That meant understanding how to apply high pressure waterjets to any job they might want to do, and some they hadn't thought of yet. This approach has led to a long list of patents and a product line that runs the gamut from simple to sophisticated. Examples include:
- Hand lances—the basic tools of waterjetting let an operator direct water where it's needed, through a nozzle designed for his job
- SPIN-NOZZLE®—adds rotating action to an ordinary lance to intensify the force of the waterjets and reduce cleaning time
- Rotating pipe nozzles—uses rotating waterjet action to clear blocked pipes and tubes
- SPIN JET®—patented rotating waterjets mounted in lawn mower-style units or fully-automated systems
- 3-D tank cleaning heads—eliminates the need for people to enter large tanks and reactors
- STARJET—truck-mounted systems remove highway and runway markings and runway rubber
- HydroPrep—automated and semi-automated accessories for surface preparation, from bridges and water towers to 600-foot tanker ships
- Tube bundle cleaning—systems for tube lancing and shellside (exterior) heat exchanger cleaning
Many of these solutions have become industry standards. Some have opened new markets for waterjets, like removing ceramic shells from investment castings, deburring metal and plastics, and concrete hydro-demolition. As a result, the Waterjet Technology Association (WJTA) honored Forrest Shook in 2007 with the Pioneer Award to recognize his 'significant contributions to the advancement, development, and applications of waterjet technology.