Based in Roseville, Minnesota, API Inc. is an industrial insulation contractor with 300 employees nationwide. The company is a part of API Group, Inc., a privately owned parent company of 32 various construction, specialty contracting and maintenance services companies that serve industrial and commercial clients. API Group’s companies work in five main areas, the largest of which is fire protection, including sprinkler system installation and the suppression of wildfires. Other subsidiaries work in plumbing, heating and ventilation, asbestos abatement and other fields.
API was officially incorporated in 1948, but its roots go back to a St. Paul, Minnesota plumbing and heating company started by Reuben Anderson in 1924. Within a few years, the company had begun manufacturing asbestos and pipe insulation, and in 1948, these products were spun off into a new company called Asbestos Products. The company changed its name to API Inc. in the 1970s.
API grew immensely over the decades that followed, expanding into areas that had little to do with insulation. Starting in 1980, API’s president kicked off a plan to diversify the company, leading the company to acquire numerous fire protection companies, steel fabricators, contractors and even banks; more than 40 acquisitions were made in all. Today, API Group employs 9,000 people at more than 150 locations.
Products Manufactured by API Inc. that Contained Asbestos
Asbestos – derived from the Greek word for “inextinguishable” – is the name used for a group of six silicate minerals that can be found in large deposits in nature. Evidence tells us that the mineral has been used since ancient times, more than 4,500 years ago, but it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s that it became known as a “miracle mineral” for all its possible uses in the growing world of industry and manufacturing.
One of the most prevalent uses for asbestos was insulation, like the products made by API Inc. From pipe coverings to building insulation to soundproofing materials, asbestos was a logical choice for these products because it was heat-resistant, fire-resistant, strong, easily obtainable and inexpensive. From its founding until the year 1973, API Inc. is believed to have manufactured insulation products for pipes, ductwork and boilers that contained asbestos.
Products manufactured by API Inc. that contained asbestos include:
Occupations at Risk of Asbestos Exposure
For decades, factory workers, construction workers, and people in hundreds of other occupations handled asbestos products on the job every day. At the same time, scientists and health workers were becoming increasingly aware that asbestos might have a detrimental impact on human health. By the 1970s, it was official: The federal government banned nearly all uses of the mineral, explaining that inhalation of asbestos particles could cause deadly asbestos diseases, like mesothelioma.
Asbestos insulation was particularly hazardous to work with because of the way the product is manipulated. Asbestos products are not very dangerous when they are intact – that is, when the asbestos fibers are trapped within another substance; for instance, insulation is often contained within a paper covering. It is when these items are cut, or when they age and begin to decompose, that they release asbestos fibers into the air and pose the greatest health risk.
Individuals who worked with insulation – such as pipefitters, construction workers, plumbers, HVAC workers, boilermakers, installers of household appliances and industrial workers – were frequently cutting pieces of insulation in order to install it, or tearing down old sheets of the product that had become old and brittle. These processes put them at a high risk of exposure. People who worked in API factories also could have been exposed to asbestos – and because the mineral’s fibers were easily brought home on workers’ dusty clothes and supplies, their families could have been put at risk as well.
API Inc. was first named as a defendant in an asbestos-related lawsuit in 1982. Since then the number of cases against the company has risen, and in January 2005, leaders at API Inc. cited asbestos liabilities as their reason for filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the state of Minnesota. Company officials said more than 700 asbestos-related lawsuits were currently pending against API Inc. The company has since created the API Inc. Asbestos Settlement Trust, a court-ordered fund designed to pay for all future asbestos-related suits.
API Group, Inc. – Our History
API Group, Inc. – Company History
APi Inc. Asbestos Settlement Trust