The AMERICAN Story

The AMERICAN Story

The AMERICAN Story

Based in Birmingham, Alabama, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company manufactures ductile iron pipe, spiral-welded steel pipe, valves and hydrants for the waterworks industry and high-frequency-welded steel pipe for the oil and natural gas industries. The company’s diversified product line also includes static castings and high-performance fire pumps. 


Our Eagan Legacy

In 1905, Charlotte Blair, secretary of Dimmick Pipe Company in Anniston, Alabama, along with her brother James W. Blair, interested several southern businessmen in the idea of starting a new pipe plant in Birmingham, Alabama. With its natural resources, access to raw materials – iron ore, coal and limestone – and a developing rail transportation network, Birmingham was a well-suited location.

John J. Eagan

Mr. John J. Eagan was one of seven original stockholders who invested in the Birmingham pipe plant, which was named AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company. He served as the company's first president and would later acquire all the common stock of the company to become its sole proprietor. 

In accord with his Christian beliefs, and deeply committed to the social and industrial reform movements of the day, Eagan developed a business model at AMERICAN based on the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. He paid good wages with overtime, sick leave and profit sharing; invested in worker health and safety programs; and treated all employees with fairness. 

In April 1923, Eagan added a codicil to his will placing all the company’s common stock in a trust to be managed by employees for the benefit of employees and customers. In Eagan's words, his objective was to ensure "service both to the purchasing public and to labor on the basis of the Golden Rule." When he died on March 30, 1924, AMERICAN became an employee-owned business.

Eagan and his wife, the former Susan Baum Young, had two children, William “Bill” Eagan and Ann Eagan Goodhue. Mrs. Eagan served on AMERICAN’s board of directors from the time of Mr. Eagan’s passing until her death in 1970, then the children served in alternating terms until their deaths in 2012 and 2011, respectively. 


Our History

In 1906, less than a year after its incorporation, AMERICAN manufactured and shipped its first order of cast iron pipe. Since then, the company has continued to play an instrumental role in the growth and development of the cast iron pipe industry. 

Curing cement-lined pipe, circa 1930

Early firsts included the development of Mono-Cast, a centrifugal casting method that yielded stronger, more durable pipe than pit casting; the introduction of cement lining, which would become the industry standard; and the advent of the mechanical joint, the first pipe joint with a rubber seal to guard against leaks and contamination. 

Under Mr. Eagan's direction, AMERICAN would also set the standard for improvements in workplace health and safety, including onsite medical facilities, construction of bathhouses with hot and cold running water and the establishment of an official safety program. The plant was also home to the first industrial YMCA in the South, providing a venue for recreational and social activities for employees and their families.

In 1941, when the United States entered World War II, AMERICAN was asked to apply its centrifugal casting experience to another metal — steel. The manufacturing of static and centrifugally cast steel parts for ships, planes and tanks led to the creation of a new Special Products Division for steel products, the first diversification in AMERICAN’s history.

Train car of 42-inch ductile iron pipe, 1955

During the war, much of AMERICAN’s production was devoted to equipping the Allied Forces, and by war’s end the company received four Army-Navy "E" Awards for "Excellence in Production" of war equipment. Only 5 percent of the more than 85,000 companies involved in producing materials for the U.S. military's war effort received the prestigious recognition.

One of the company’s most significant advancements in the industry would come in the mid-1950s following the invention of a stronger and more resilient iron called ductile iron. AMERICAN took a lead role in using this new iron to create even better products, including larger diameter pipes that were stronger than those made from gray iron.

AMERICAN Steel Pipe begins
production, 1963

In 1962, the company purchased Fox Steel in Jacksonville, Florida, and used the equipment to build a 36,000-square-foot steel pipe mill on its Birmingham campus. The mill manufactured electric-resistance-welded steel pipe in diameters from 6 to 20 inches for the oil and natural gas industries.

American-Darling gate valves on
the SS Mormacstar, circa 1976

In 1969, AMERICAN would continue to diversify, acquiring Darling Pump and Manufacturing Company, established in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1888. Darling had acquired Mabry Foundry in Beaumont, Texas, in 1967, which became home to American Darling, renamed AMERICAN Valve & Hydrant (AVH) in 1979. This line of waterworks products retains the well-known Darling signature in its brand of American Darling products. The same year, AMERICAN acquired Specification Rubber Products in Alabaster, Alabama, which began operations in 1968 as a manufacturer of rubber products, including gaskets used in water pipe joints. 

A new melting system, including the largest cupola of its kind in the world, was introduced in 1970, and AMERICAN moved from a sand-spun casting process to a generation of deLavaud metal molds, significantly improving productivity. 

A waterous hydrant protects the Mount Rushmore
National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota

In the late 1980s, the company continued to expand its steel pipe business, building a second mill to manufacture electric-resistance-welded steel pipe in diameters up to 24 inches. The company also acquired Waterous Company in South St. Paul, Minnesota, a manufacturer of fire suppression systems, valves and hydrants since 1886. This acquisition, along with AVH, led to the formation of AMERICAN Flow Control, the company’s consolidated valve and hydrant division.

In 1993, AMERICAN introduced its nationally recognized WellBody Program, building on the company’s culture of health and safety. The program includes an on-site wellness center in Birmingham, one-on-one health coaching, access to registered dieticians, and wellness and fitness classes. 

AMERICAN Spiral Weld manufactures
steel pipe in diameters up to 144 inches

As the new millennium dawned, AMERICAN was poised for further growth, opening AMERICAN SpiralWeld Pipe in Columbia, South Carolina, and further diversifying its product line to include spiral-welded steel pipe in diameters up to 144 inches. Also in 2000, AMERICAN engineered the Contiarc, an electric melting furnace, the largest one of its kind in the world at the time.

In 2003, the company acquired AMERICAN Castings in Pryor, Oklahoma, which manufactures static castings such as axles, frames, braking system parts, suspension parts and valve bodies for the construction, agriculture, waterworks, mining and energy industries.

The turn of the century would also bring a host of innovations for AMERICAN's waterworks divisions, including zinc-coated ductile iron pipe, the AFC Mapper for utility asset management, resilient wedge gate valves up to 66 inches in diameter, the Earthquake Joint System and the ALPHA restrained joint.

AMERICAN Steel Pipe's
North Processing Facility

In 2014, AMERICAN SpiralWeld opened a second plant in Flint, Michigan, initially to supply 60- and 66-inch pipe for the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline and now for other projects across the region.

AMERICAN’s Steel Pipe Division would also continue to see major developments. In 2015, AMERICAN Steel Pipe completed a $70-million expansion, including a new 150,000-square-foot processing facility and upgrades to its two mills. 

Today, AMERICAN’s Birmingham plant, located on a 2,000-acre site just north of a revitalized downtown, provides a historic backdrop for the city’s center. The plant employs about 1,500 people, offering competitive benefits, including profit sharing, apprenticeship training in crafts and trades, on-site professional development, and a nationally recognized wellness program. 

For more information about our products, see a local Sales representative. For more information about career opportunities with AMERICAN, visit our online recruitment center.


The AMERICAN Family of Companies

AMERICAN manufactures ductile iron pipe and HFW steel pipe at its headquarters plant in Birmingham, Alabama. Other production facilities are:

  • AMERICAN Castings, LLC, Pryor Creek, Oklahoma (acquired in 2003)
  • AMERICAN SpiralWeld Pipe, Columbia, South Carolina (built in 2000), and Flint, Michigan (2014) 
  • AMERICAN Valve & Hydrant, Beaumont, Texas (acquired in 1969)
  • Intercast SA, Itauna, Brazil (2004)
  • Specification Rubber Products, Inc., Alabaster, Alabama (acquired in 1969)
  • Waterous Company, South Saint Paul, Minnesota (acquired in 1989)