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Orbit Irrigation goes with flow

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Technology involved in keeping lawns green has come a long way since the days of galvanized pipe and metal sprinkler heads. Orbit Irrigation Products in North Salt Lake and its 700 different products have helped bring innovation to the industry.

Kent "K.C." Ericksen, Orbit president, and his brother, Mike, executive vice president, are carrying on with the company their father started by inventing new watering products that attempt to conserve water.Already with 15 patents, the Ericksens are trying to be more innovative, and one of their newest ideas is a pop-up sprinkler head that can be adjusted from a small spray to a full-circle spray. No more changing heads to get the desired coverage.

In the early 1950s, their father, Max, started a distribution company, and Orbit grew out of that entrepreneurial venture. Max also installed sprinkling systems (they prefer to call them irrigation systems), ran his distribution company and later changed to an irrigation system manufacturer.

K.C. said Orbit began manufacturing its products in 1979 in a 40,000-square-foot building at 20 E. Union Ave., Bountiful, but the company wasn't incorporated until 1986. The company has 160,000 square feet at its present location in 1995 and also maintains a raw materials warehouse in the Freeport Center in Clearfield.

As an indication of its growth in recent years, K.C. said Orbit has distribution warehouses in Niagara, Canada; Tempe, Ariz.; Tampa, Fla.; and this month will open a new warehouse in Santiago, Chile. Orbit also has partnerships with companies in London and Perth, Australia. The firm employs 420.

Orbit sells it products under the names WaterMaster and Sunmate. In 1996, Orbit purchased Arizona Mist, a company manufacturing items that produce a cool mist, popular in warm climates.