It’s a New Age for Cast Iron Plumbing Pipes, Fittings

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Bikram Singh along with his staff and friend Pankaj Malani (extreme right)

By Jawahar Malhotra

SUGAR LAND: Bikram Singh was walking guests around through his office space and the huge 60,000sf warehouse area adjoining it, giving them a tour of the black cast iron pipes and fitting that were stored on pallets and boxes in 30-foot tall vertical shelves. He pointed out to a box and told them about the full-line of no-hub pipe and fittings that his company, NewAge Casting manufactures in China, imports into the US and then distributes through a network of representatives across the US.

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Bikram Singh in front of the entrance to his firm, NewAge Casting in Sugar Land

In the parking lot, under a white tent, the crew from Pappas Barbeque was putting the final touches for the buffet line to cater to the stream of guests that were invited to the company’s Holiday Party. The DJ pumped out some Bollywood dance music, mixed with regular pop, hip-hop and contemporary rock as the guests took their plates of food and drinks to tables laid out under the tent, in the shade from the afternoon sun on Friday, December 11.

For Bikram Singh – Bik to most of his friends – the party was a celebration of ten years in the business which he started from a small 1,500 sf leased facility and has now grown to 40 employees in this site off West Airport Blvd. in Sugar Land. He has another 140,000 sf of warehouse space in the firm’s own locations or through arrangements with his distributors in multiple locations across the country. The increase this year to about $20 million in revenues at an average rate of 30% yearly growth has been both encouraging and challenging.

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Singh inside the tent where the lunch catered from Pappas Barbeque was being served

It’s a far cry for Singh, 36, who came to the US from Delhi when he was 4 years-old and got his degree in economics from the University of Texas in Austin in 2002. “I had an offer for an economics position in Washington, DC but received an offer in Houston to get into the piping business,” he recalled, “and liked it enough to become the Purchasing Manager.” That firm, Unique Industrial Products is co-owned by Jugal Malani, a well-known entrepreneur in town, whose son Pankaj is a childhood friend of Singh’s and now runs the business conglomerate.

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Mitan Kaur, Singh’s mother-in-law dropped by to say hello

When UIP’s piping business was sold to a national firm, Charlotte Pipe, Singh decided to venture out on his own. Now, apart from Charlotte, the other main competitor is Tyler Pipe, both firms being in business for 150 years. “We’re the new kids on the block,” Singh quipped, “but we go all out to get market share.”

And kids were very much on Singh’s mind when he spoke over the phone, eleven days later, on the shortest day of the year. “I’m working out of the house today,” he explained, his voice a little pensive. “My wife, Kanchan, and I are expecting triplets today – two girls and a boy – in fact any minute now!”