Over 25 years ago, a man named Sam Richard, Jr. worked for, then bought, the South Charleston branch of the Fogleman Company, a Pittsburgh based industrial controls distributor. Sam Jr. was a former engineer for Rust Engineering and then Union Carbide. Being a respected engineer, he had close ties with many other engineers working in the chemical plants of the Kanawha valley. He named his company Appalachian Controls Company. Appalachian Controls became a major industrial supplier of controls and instrumentation. Then one day Union Carbide came to Sam and asked for a simple, reliable tank blanketing system, ready to install in a nitrogen line. They had problems with the Anderson Greenwood systems because of dirt and rust and Fisher would only provide the individual components that the customer would have to assemble and calibrate. Sam put together a regulator package built from the same Rockwell regulators that Appalachian Controls sold. Union Carbide liked the system and incorporated it into their standards (IN22.2).
For several years Appalachian Controls built 40-50 tank blanketing systems a year for various Union Carbide plants around the world. Then one day the area Rockwell rep came into town and said that Rockwell would like to do a news article for their in-house magazine. He was putting Rockwell regulators into the industrial market, and Rockwell liked that. The magazine published and shortly thereafter there came a clamor from around the country for this simple reliable tank blanketing system. Appalachian Controls came onto the national scene as a reliable, economical, knowledgeable supplier of tank blanketing systems. The Union Carbide system became the 78 Series. Soon requests for lower and higher capacity systems brought the 79 and 80 Series into being. Over the years the tank blanketing business grew steadily until, in the early '90's, EPA regulations boosted the business considerably. Sam Jr. had passed away in the fall of 1987 from cancer. His son, Sam Richard III now had the business. Appalachian Controls grew to be a world leader in tank blanketing. Custom packages were designed for special applications and a wealth of hard earned knowledge was being accumulated. At around that same time, others saw an opportunity in tank blanketing. Valve Concepts emerged with a small compact system that worked very well.
Soon everyone, including Appalachian Controls, developed their own version of this new, compact style blanketing system. Now there were five where there had once been two or three. Appalachian Controls discontinued the older "piped up" systems in the late '90's, and the new system did well. But thousands of the older "piped up" systems remained in service. These old systems were designed to give many years of trouble free service. Now the fleet is getting older and people are asking for replacement systems and parts. But alas, Appalachian Controls sold out to Fisher, and Fisher declared that there will be no more Rockwell regulators or parts sold through its subsidiary. Finally Fisher decided to move the operation from South Charleston, WV to its facility in McKinney, TX. The small crew that hand assembled and tested every system for over 10 years were out of a job. Appalachian Controls was gone. Working for Appalachian Controls was good. The business was small and there was a sense of family within its walls. Bonus' were shared by everyone if quarterly quotas were exceeded. There was a turkey at Thanksgiving and ham and a bonus at Christmas.
What to do now? Is there a need for the older "piped up" tank blanketing systems Appalachian used to make? We don't know, but would like to find out. If you are pleased with the older "piped up" systems and need a replacement, technical help or a few replacement parts, please feel free to contact us. If there is enough demand, well, who knows, we just might get back into the business. No one makes this style system any longer.