How it all began
Wavin's story begins in 1950s Zwolle, the Netherlands, where company founder Johan Keller was director of WMO, the local water utility. Supplying a largely rural district and a few urban centres, the company's water supply reached its customers through a large network of mostly iron pipes. Before long, WMO found itself battling against serious pipe corrosion and a significant loss of water. Keller decided that something needed to be done urgently, and began looking into plastic pipes as a solution. Although plastic pipes were already available in the 1950s, Keller wanted them tailor-made for the supply of drinking water. Finding none on the market, he set to work in a small workshop in Zwolle, and, in 1953, succeeded in producing the first plastic pressure pipes for potable water with diameters of 100 mm and larger.
Founded in 1955
WMO's solution to its pipe corrosion problem attracted the interest of utility companies both nationally and internationally. Unable to cope with the increasing demand for its pipes, however, and aware that as a government organisation its first duty was to serve the local population, WMO created an independent company to focus solely on pipe production. In August 1955, Wavin (a contraction of the words WAter and VINyl) was founded. It had 52 employees.
The new company drew interest from far and wide, and a wide range of possibilities opened up in the first years of business. Wavin decided to expand internationally, choosing to focus first on Europe. In the early years the company developed rapidly. In 1957, Wavin moved from Zwolle to a new plant in nearby Hardenberg. A network of factories and offices were set up throughout Europe. Factories opened in Germany (1956), Denmark (1957) and Ireland (1958). Sales offices were established in Sweden and Norway in 1958, and in 1961 Wavin Ltd. opened a sales office in London, followed by a production facility in Liverpool. In 1964 the company's French subsidiary opened for business. Wavin rapidly conquered Europe. In 1962, Royal Dutch Shell took a stake in the company, with WMO retaining 50 percent. Shell and Wavin began sharing knowledge on raw materials, technology and product applications.
In the years that followed, Wavin grew rapidly and concentrated on developing sound management practices and a solid internal structure. In 1972, a holding company – Wavin BV – was formed, and research and development activities were transferred to a separate entity, now known as Wavin Technology & Innovation. In 1975, Wavin Overseas was officially established to distribute Wavin products, technology and services outside the company’s European base. In 1999, Royal Dutch Shell sold its stake in the company to CVC Capital Partners, a leading independent equity provider in Europe. During the 1990s and into the 2000s, Wavin explored the possibilities on offer in Central and Eastern Europe. Wavin acquired companies in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, and established operations in Croatia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia. In 2005, the company's 50th anniversary year, Wavin announced its largest acquisition ever. Through the takeover of Hepworth Building Products, Wavin increased its size by more than 20 percent. In September of that year, WMO Beheer (the province of Overijssel and 24 municipalities in and close to Overijssel) sold its shares in Wavin. CVC, Alpinvest and a group of Wavin managers were the new owners.
In 2006 Wavin entered the NYSE Euronext stock exchange in Amsterdam and was included in the Amsterdam Midcap index. Six years later, in 2012, Mexichem, leader in Latin America in plastic pipe systems and in the chemical and petrochemical industry, acquired Wavin, leading to a delisting.
Today Wavin is a leading supplier of plastic systems and solutions. As one of the longest established names in the market, Wavin built its reputation on over 60 years of high quality and innovation. Wavin connects customers to better solutions for above and below ground projects in the following application areas: water management, heating and cooling, water and gas distribution, waste water drainage and datacom. Wavin headquarters are located in Zwolle, the Netherlands and has presence in more than 25 countries, and about 30 manufacturing sites, mostly located in Europe. Wavin employes approximately 5000 people.
Wavin is part of Orbia
Wavin is part of Orbia, a community of companies bound together by a shared purpose: to advance life around the world. Orbia is a purpose-led company, passionate about the challenges that define how people will live and thrive tomorrow. Our decades-long history began as a leading producer of commodities, and through investment and strategic growth we’ve become a global leader in polymers, materials, and infrastructure. Today, we operate in 41 countries and employ more than 22,000 people worldwide.