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The average retail cost of a single PVC pipe fitting is about $2.00, but the price for certain bend fittings can run up over $40.00. Obviously, if you're only going to do one project with PVC, you might as well go buy some bends. For people who work with PVC every day, like electrical contractors, doing your own bending can save you and your clients thousands, if not millions of dollars. There's another cost to consider as well: the appearance of the finished product. While appearance is not the most important for certain applications, like electrical conduit that is hidden by drywall, there are other times when it is vital. I want to focus on the money in this article because let's be honest, the dollar is dropping like a stone, and you need to be competitive to succeed. So, let's take a few examples to show what I mean.
I work in a building that is essentially a converted warehouse. OK, scratch that, it's a warehouse. The electrical service in here is impeccable. There is an outlet every eight feet in every direction, including on the ceiling. On top of that, there are 400 watt metal halide lights every 16 feet in a regular grid on the ceiling, where the lowest point is 16 feet off of the floor. There are more than a dozen service panels, including some that have more than ten conduits coming off of them. The structure itself is pig iron, so the electricians here had to make hundreds of offsets to get around framing members and other conduits leading into the service panels. Naturally, they bent the conduit to get it where it needed to go.
If they had bought fittings to do every offset in this building, the total bill for fittings would have been in excess of $10,000.00. On top of that, every place that the conduit had to get around a framing member there would have to be a guy cementing fittings 16-20 feet off of the floor. Because they were the type of outfit that bends conduit instead of using fittings, they put in the most competitive bid, and they got the job. On top of that, they saved time, effort, and therefore - you guessed it - money.
Another example that is a world away from the electrician's concern: Yesterday morning, I was talking to a wedding and party set designer here at the shop. He gets requests from clients to make interesting shapes out of balloons, and he was looking for a way to maintain his competitive edge. For example, if he's asked to make a heart shaped window from balloons, he might need to buy over a dozen fittings for his framework. The fittings alone end up costing around $24.00, and the finished shape is angular and undesirable. Sometimes, he gets requests for themed setups that require shapes like boots, cacti, etc. One item on this list can have a $50.00 or higher fitting cost. By using PVC Bendit, he can now make these shapes look better and cost a whole lot less. Instead of spending 50 bucks on fittings on top of the cost of the pipe and cement, he can spend 3 bucks on a stick of pipe, and that's that. Even if he needs a fitting or two, that beats the hell out of needing twenty. Even if he's cementing a joint or two, he's not spending hours on cementing any more.
He's now saving time and money, and he's able to pass those savings on to his clients. His portfolio in the times to come will be one of the most impressive in the area, and he will be able to expand his business in a time when people are closing up shop.
Figure that if you're going to need between 5 and 100 fittings to make what you need, that will cover the cost of the PVC Bendit. Once you've crossed that line, it's all butter from there. For