In a career that has spanned more than 45 years, Darrell Purkey has created designs for a variety of facilities, including hospitals, military buildings and many food-and-beverage plants. But much of his work can’t be seen during a site tour, because most of his designs are in the unseen pipes and drainage systems.
For the past decade, Purkey has been a senior plumbing designer with Haskell. His work starts at conceptual planning and doesn’t stop until a project is complete. It often requires intricate designs to create safe food and beverages for customers.
Purkey’s career began when he was a draftsman working for a small mechanical, engineering and plumbing firm, where he worked with architects and engineers to learn all aspects of design. When a plumbing designer left, he was elected to fill the position. He found it to be a good fit.
“I enjoy it because every project is another challenge,” Purkey said. “There are so many facets of it – there’s always something to learn or a potential new way of doing things.”
When Purkey began working on plumbing-design projects, he created hand drawings with straight edges and ink. Now, he relies on computer renderings, which streamline plumbing designs to create innovative solutions.
For example, Purkey created the plumbing design for a battery manufacturer, which he said was one of the most challenging projects he’s ever worked on. The design had to include components that dealt with acidic waste, including Hydrofluoric acid. In the clean rooms, the air needed to be extremely dry to a minus-63 degree C dewpoint.
“The rules change frequently because of the spread of bacteria and trying to keep that at a minimum,” Purkey said. “Clients are getting a lot smarter on how they handle sanitation and hygiene in the plants.”
The occurrence of a plumbing design flaw could force clients to halt production, but Purkey’s experience in design safeguards clients from having any plumbing-related issues. He must always be aware of proper temperatures and other constraints, making each project have its own challenges.
Purkey said some of the most interesting plants are chill facilities that create ready-to-eat products because of the complexities presented by meeting numerous and exacting temperature requirements.
“That’s where the challenge and the fun come in because you can’t just jump from one type [of project] to the other and everything will be fine,” he said. “You’re in a constant learning phase, which makes it enjoyable.”
Haskell, Purkey said, fosters an environment that encourages ongoing education, provides necessary resources and fosters a close-knit working environment.
“Every company that grows reaches a point where the global family atmosphere tends to leave,” he said, “but Haskell keeps everyone close-knit, even between districts and divisions.”