A Lifeline for Patients
Jordan Piping, Inc. prepares safe pathways for medical gas
When the team at Jordan Piping, Inc. arrive on a job site, they are all business. They have to be, according to President James Jordan. They hold people’s lives in their hands.
Jordan Piping is a medical gas contractor. Headquartered in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the company installs the piping and connection systems that deliver oxygen, nitrous oxide, high-pressure nitrogen and medical compressed air to operating rooms and patient recovery rooms. This highly specialized team ensures that piping is free from contaminants and leaks so life-saving oxygen can be safely delivered to preterm babies and other patients. They install medical vacuum systems that efficiently whisk away excess anesthesia and other substances from the operating room, keeping doctors alert as they tend to our most vulnerable. They provide ultraclean medical gas systems for pharmaceutical companies that are developing life-saving drugs and for research labs making groundbreaking scientific discoveries and advancements. That’s why the quality of their work matters, explains James. “Newborns are breathing out of piping that we’ve installed. Someone lying on that operating table is being kept alive by oxygen that flows through our pipes. There is no room for mistakes,” he says.
Although technically considered plumbing, James’ son Matthew, who serves as Vice President of Jordan Piping, gives an analogy for what a medical gas contractor does. “If plumbers were the Navy, we would be the Navy SEALs,” he says.
James concurs. “We’re at the top tier of the plumbing ladder,” he adds.
Jordan Piping works with general contractors and large mechanical contractors on projects across North Carolina. “Our medical gas license allows us to provide services not just in the state, but across the country,” James notes. Though the company frequently serves hospitals and large health care systems, the team also provides services for stand-alone medical and dental practices, research facilities and pharmaceutical companies.
Medical Gas for Cleanrooms
Matthew explains that the company has the technology and know-how to provide medical gas systems in ultrapure environments like the cleanrooms used in some research labs. Cleanrooms are utilized by manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms needing a controlled environment with low levels of pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles and chemical vapors. “In these environments, contaminants could give scientists a false reading on a test,” he says.
Those contaminants can enter a cleanroom from gas-delivery systems. To avoid this type of contamination, clients with cleanrooms require that all piping be constructed of stainless steel and welded together using an orbital welder—equipment Jordan Piping has in-house. Under extreme heat, the orbital welder robotically joins two pieces of stainless steel, creating an extremely precise weld free of leaks and crevices. “The orbital welder eliminates the potential of contaminants in the line,” Matthew says. “A proper orbital weld joint blends in with pipe.”
For this highly specialized work, clients require the amperage, time record and other documentation. “The computer gives very detailed information on every single weld,” Matthew continues. “Once the welds are complete, you run a special solution through the piping to clean it even further. The result is piping that is almost as clean as science allows.”
Wheels Start Turning
The company’s dedication to quality started with James, who began work as a plumbing assistant in the mid-1990s. “I was in my early 30s and looking to change careers. It didn’t take long to realize that plumbing was something I was interested in,” he says. James served the residential and commercial plumbing sectors while becoming a master plumber.
In working for other companies, James observed those who were dedicated to their craft—and those whose work was less than stellar. “I worked for some big service companies and on large jobs. I saw that, with many employees, the quality of work was not really very good. I had a desire in my heart to try and do my best, but I didn’t see that same desire in the people who worked around me,” he says.
With a goal to work with others equally dedicated to the craft, James struck out on his own in 2005. Though James had earned his medical gas credentials and had worked on some medical gas projects, he’d primarily served the residential industry while working on his own. “I really enjoyed being my own boss. I controlled the quality of work on projects,” he says.
While James headed up a successful residential plumbing business, Matthew was knee-deep in his studies. “I was home-schooled from second grade through high school. Education has always been very important to me. I would follow my mom around in the grocery store with my nose stuck in a book,” Matthew says.
After graduating from high school, Matthew put himself through community college, earning a degree in architectural technology. “I was very mechanically minded and went to work with an engineering firm,” he says. At this firm, Matthew designed and drafted plumbing systems for construction projects, including a few specifically for medical gas projects.
Meanwhile, although James enjoyed running his own business, he struggled to juggle administrative demands with an increasing project load. “I had four or five people working for me. I was still working in the field and needed help invoicing, paying bills and doing other paperwork. But, I didn’t want the type of help that I could hire. I wanted someone who I could trust,” he says.
James recalls first broaching the subject with Matthew during Christmas of 2017. “We were getting more and more calls for medical gas contracting. Hospitals would hire one contractor but then become displeased with the quality of work. Our company would come in after them to fix things. We were getting good feedback from these hospitals. They’d say, ‘We like your work; you take pride in what you do.’ That got the wheels turning in my mind that maybe we could make it just in medical gas,” James says.
James formed Jordan Piping on April 25, 2018. Matthew, who had earned his medical gas credentials earlier that year, gave notice at the engineering firm. “I did my last day at my old job, and the very next day, I started working for my dad,” he says.
“We take our work at Jordan Piping very seriously because it’s our job and our passion to help keep people safe.” James Jordan, President, Jordan Piping, Inc.
Mindset of Perfection
The two say they’re a good match. “We like working together. I’m able to put up with him, and he’s able to put up with me,” James quips. The two were recently joined by James’ other son, Nathanael. At 20 years old, Nathanael is one of the youngest medical contractors working in the field, according to Matthew. “Nathanael loves working with his hands. He’s always inventing tools and contraptions, some we’ve even started using out in the field,” he says.
The three are joined by several other employees—all equally dedicated to quality work. “That mindset of perfection is our creed. It’s what we demand,” James says. “Employees see it in us, and we reinforce it every time we pull the guys together. This is the quality of work we expect to see, with every single job.”
Matthew says that finding good employees can be a challenge. “For this type of work, you can’t just hire a guy out of high school. The people we hire are a cut above most professionals in this industry,” he says.
The Importance of a Handshake
What differentiates Jordan Piping from other medical gas contractors is quality and speed, according to James. When the company was contracted by SPC Mechanical to install the medical gas systems at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s new birthing center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the client was initially dubious that the small crew would be able to tackle such a large project in a timely manner. With just five employees, Jordan Piping installed over 5 miles of copper piping in just five months, outfitting four operating rooms and 100 patient rooms scattered across three towers. “The patient rooms were equipped with oxygen, medical air and a medical vacuum system, while the procedure rooms had nitrous, oxygen, medical air, a medical vacuum and a WAGD system for the disposal of excess anesthesia,” James says.
The crew worked tirelessly, sometimes seven days a week. “At no point were we ever behind in the project,” James adds. “We turned the project over in May 2019 and since then, we haven’t had a single call to fix something. The client was very happy with our work.”
In Durham, North Carolina, Jordan Piping outfitted a new research facility with laboratory gas piping. “The project didn’t involve nearly as much piping as the birthing center, but the work was very meticulous,” Matthew says. Operating within very stringent requirements, the team installed piping to cleanrooms and laboratory equipment.
On another challenging project, Jordan Piping was subcontracted by Piedmont Performance Plumbing, Inc. to install the medical gas systems and piping for the new Novant Health Wallace Cancer Institute in Salisbury, North Carolina. “We installed oxygen and medical vacuum outlets in each patient room,” James says. “At the end of the job, the state inspector hadn’t found a single issue. He shook my hand and told me we had done a very good job.”
James says it’s easy to see a medical gas outlet and take for granted the painstaking work of installing that connection. “When a patient is administered oxygen through medical gas outlets, that oxygen runs through many feet of pipe—pipe that we’ve installed. We take our work at Jordan Piping very seriously because it’s our job and our passion to help keep people safe,” he says.