“Talking about our equipment and capabilities may sound foreign or even unbelievable. It begins to make sense when pictures are shown and video is shared. The ‘dots’ connect and when the systems are used it is such a wow factor the customer can’t imagine doing another project without one of our handling systems. The support and services provided seals the deal.”Bill Solomon
Bill Solomon attributes nearly three decades of leadership in vacuum lifting technology at Vacuworx to a dedicated team, responsible growth, and making core capabilities and improvements a continual focal point alongside its customers.
The company launched in 2023 – its 25th anniversary year – with the most diversified global offering of vacuum lifting systems and equipment available for an array of manufacturing, construction, and infrastructure-related material-handling tasks and applications.
Vacuworx’s material handling systems are proven to be effective in all unusual types of industrial situations, tight or confined workspaces, expansive outdoor environments, rigorous weather, and diverse field conditions.
The company is proud to help meet the needs of lifting and handling professionals operating in a wide variety of sectors, from oil and gas pipelines to concrete, water utility, precast, landscape, mining, manufacturing, and more.
From concrete road barriers to solar panels, burial vaults, and electrical transmission and distribution poles – to name a few material handling applications where safety and precision are imperative.
Vacuum Lifting: The Right Foundations
Since 1999, Solomon and his wife, Christy, have continued developing their original idea to create a faster, safer, and smarter way to lift and move heavy, bulky objects.
Vacuworx systems have now been rented and sold in over 25 countries – as more sectors are introduced to the safety aspect, as well as the time and labor savings associated with using this innovative vacuum lifting equipment, and its increasing versatility.
The foundation for Vacuworx was being laid as major advancements in protective coating technologies were being rolled out – and having tremendous impacts – on traditional methods used to handle oil and gas pipes.
Early on, Vacuworx centered only on a few product types, including its flagship RC Series lifters. It had then – and has now – all the right capabilities to handle virtually any type and diameter of pipe length effectively, with no need for chains, slings, or hooks.
Peering into the future – Solomon can see engineering even more products with the demonstrated ability to outperform traditional lifting and handling methods safely and cost-efficiently. His goal has always been to protect people by keeping them out of lift zones and removing them from other places where they don’t need to be.
Material Handling Innovation: A Reliable Start
Based in Tulsa from the start, with expanded manufacturing capabilities in the US and Australia, Vacuworx developed a strong presence in Oklahoma, a global network of qualified vacuum lifting equipment dealers touching six continents, and a customer base extending around the world.
From humble roots in an 8,500-sf shop to a state-of-the-art 155,000-sf headquarters and manufacturing facility with more than 60 employees and the advantage of all in-house precision machining and custom fabrication capabilities – Vacuworx has evolved.
Over the years, greater acceptance of the benefits associated with vacuum lifting technology in key sectors, including pipeline construction, road and bridge work, and airport runway rehabilitations, among others, have followed original demonstrations of Vacuworx machines on major infrastructure projects, and involving various applications.
Word-of-mouth testimonials, and countless videos and images, soon began surfacing as visual proof that the lifters could be relied on – 100%. As original word and news of Vacuworx’s story spread organically, Solomon said, one early adopter would unswervingly lead to the next.
“We were in the right place at the right time,” he explained. “It didn’t just happen overnight. One contractor would see the benefit of our product because another contractor was using it. ‘Where did you get that? ‘We need one of those.’ That’s how we got started.”
Seeing is Believing: A Consultative Approach
Both the Solomons’ company and the industries it serves have come a long way since 1999 – including the accelerated rate of pipe handlers’ adoption and utilization of vacuum lifters in the past 10 years, alone. Ultimately, vacuum lifting has left an indelible mark on the pipe-handling industry.
Vacuworx material handling systems have become one of the best-recognized innovations over the past 25 years. But they didn’t stop there. The company listens to its customers and a quarter of a century later is still busy refining their positive comments and critical feedback into new material lifting innovations that work – for a growing number of established markets.
“We’ve gotten through some extraordinary things,” Solomon said. “We are going to get on the phone. We’re going to get on a plane. It’s part of our covenant with our customers. You can get a hold of somebody to help. We’re going to be available.”
In turn, the Vacuworx product line has expanded and diversified to match louder calls for greater safety, throughput, and velocity across a range of sectors that value staying safe while mitigating unnecessary downtime.
The Vacuworx offering includes 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year customer service; quick access to technical support and parts; a complete inventory; a full line of sales and rental options; and strong US and North American supply chain business relationships.
From larger companies to smaller, independent contractors, they present options and do business with people in a way that makes it easy for them to see that Vacuworx is a partner.
For Solomon, this often equates to helping future customers “connect the dots” – with access to the right engineering conversations, actual demonstrations, or compelling visual representations of lifters in action. “There’s been an entire sea change from, ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it’ to ‘I can’t imagine doing a job without one,’” Solomon said.
“Everything about what we are trying to do ties back to continuous improvement and growth in areas where we can make a difference.”
Vacuum Lifting Technology: New Line of Thinking
Perhaps the greatest breakthrough for Solomon in his take on operating a 25-year-old and growing manufacturing company has been the vast diversification of its products, at the same time holding 100% true to its original mission and values.
“We are an innovative manufacturing company focusing on the design and fabrication of equipment to make material handling a safer process,” Solomon said. “We always knew our tech was useful for other types of applications, in other markets. Big bulky, hard-to-reach things that require a great deal of labor investment.”
The pursuit of steady growth, continuous improvement, and a passion for industry-leading products and services have carried the Vacuworx organization forward. In recent years, the capabilities of their RC Series equipment were thoroughly expanded and modernized with improvements and next-generation changes made with greater durability and longevity in mind.
From the original RC and MC Series units to compact and versatile SL 2 lifters, PS 1/PHD machines, and more, Vacuworx material handling equipment is available with the right capabilities, dimensions and lift capacities to suit virtually any job.
In preparation for the next 25 years, Solomon is considering the future of even faster, safer, and smarter machines, which will be put to work by qualified operators in even
more semi-autonomous and fully manufacturer-supported lifting and handling operations.
Vacuworx Lifting Systems are already adaptable to multiple applications and host machines, such as modular systems for heavy-duty manufacturing, battery or electric systems for various in-plant or field operations, and an alternative system for using anchors and chains when handling precast, among others.
Right now, Vacuworx offers the most useful, reliable, service-and-support backed line-up of machines for compact, mid-range, and specialty lifting scenarios in the world.
Pictures Connect the Dots
In light of the 25-year milestone, Solomon reflected on his years building Vacuworx and reminded himself that while focusing on what’s next is important, so is remembering where it all started.
Recently, Solomon visited a relative who moved into a memory care unit within an assisted living community. He found that the same conversations were repeated each day – as if it was the first time. But he found that pictures helped connect the dots.
Solomon took this as a lesson worth learning from, especially when it comes to Vacuworx. As industry and technology have accelerated in growth over the past 25 years, it is easy to forget challenges and milestones along the way. But when you see photos from throughout the years, it all comes flooding back.
“It begins to make sense when pictures are shown and video is shared,” he said. “They really do help connect the dots. We’ve had long-haul customers who have been with us since the start. That’s because once they use it, they can’t imagine doing another project without Vacuworx.”
Material handlers of all sizes come to Vacuworx for not only the safety aspects and labor-saving benefits but also to uncover advantages associated with a superior level of service and support.
Solomon said: “When we enter a new market, sometimes it’s hard for people to believe that our lifters are as safe and easy to use as we say they are. It can be hard for them to wrap their heads around it. But we’re in our 25th year, and we welcome the opportunities to prove what we say is what we do.”