Executives share their expert insight on the state of the pump industry.
by Michelle Segrest

Alfredo A. Ciotola
President, Frontline Industries, Inc.

I find that 2012, although pervaded by a general tone of cautious and delayed spending, has been a relatively strong year. In the pump service area, we noticed that our commercial customers reduced their spending, especially for preventing maintenance jobs. This downtrend was more than made up for by our industrial and utility customers, particularly the power generation customers, who kept up with their preventive maintenance schedules.

For 2013, I see a stronger year since many customers held back on projects that now have become more urgent. From the service point of view, I see a potentially substantial growth for the same reason—many large projects are becoming due and will keep the service industry busy for most of 2013. The industry has become demanding, and a successful service provider must, now more than ever, be able to:

  • Maintain continued and focused attention to the customers’ needs.
  • Keep a sharp focus on specific problem solving with a relentless attention to details.
  • Have a strong desire to offer solutions in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  • Mark D’Agostino
  • President and CEO, WILO USA LLC

With fewer projects and more pressures on municipal budgets, 2012 was a challenging year. However, due to our focus on value add propositions, such as energy efficiency improvements, we experienced a record year in the United States. We are preparing for a 25 percent year-over-year growth in our business for 2013 with continued focus on energy and the durability of our premium brands.

We are in the midst of a substantial upgrade to our Thomasville, Ga., manufacturing facility to accommodate for this growth. We also continue to market our new line of after sales services—including extended warranties, service contracts and proactive replacement site audits.

Michael L. Dillon
President, seepex, Inc.

Sales in just about every market area, except paper, increased for seepex, which again experienced good climate growth in 2012. Water and wastewater expanded, primarily through seepex offering new controls technologies for difficult applications. The food and pharmaceutical industries expanded, as well, again because of advances that seepex has made in elastomer technologies.

The oil and gas market has been very good because of the advanced extraction methods used in shale formations, especially in the U.S. We see 2013 as an even better year, as all these industries expand and the need for customers to improve their own process efficiencies drives their capital expenditures. We expect markets that were damaged by the high relative value of the U.S. dollar—such as mining, paper and agriculture—to return to the U.S.

Larry Lewis
President, Vanton

Variable economic conditions have less impact on niche products, such as our thermoplastic pumps, when compared to pumps intended for more mainstream applications.
Problems associated with pump corrosion or fluid contamination and purity will always need to be addressed, regardless of economic constraints.
Strong OEM relationships and the fact that we manufacture an engineered product provide a hedge against individual market downturns and accounts for our success in the international marketplace.
Exports to the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, for industrial processes, as well as water and waste treatment, continue to show significant growth as a percentage of sales.
Reinvestment in our business remains paramount to our continued success. This year, we completely renovated our pump test facility, resulting in a 100 percent digital state-of-the-art pump test lab.
We continue to enhance existing products, develop new products and are constantly looking to push the envelope for pump design utilizing thermoplastics.

David Lowe
Executive Vice President, Graco Industrial Products Division

2012 was a challenging year in many of Graco’s industrial markets. Overall, both North America and South America were strong, while there were headwinds in Europe and portions of Asia Pacific. In 2013, we anticipate similar results with growth potential in parts of Asia, South America and North America.

Graco continues to invest aggressively in the technology we believe our customers are looking for, with many new products launched annually.

A strong return on investment also remains a key driver for buyers of our industrial equipment. In addition to technology and ROI, other important factors to our worldwide customers are high levels of service and support.

Because of this, we continue to add sales and new distribution, especially in developing markets, which should be good sources of growth through the next several years.

Gino Mersino
President, Global Pump Company/Mersino Dewatering

Many municipalities will continue to withhold projects as budgets remain a challenge. I do not think that it will be universal. There will be opportunities. Those who may be forced to put off repairs and upgrades unfortunately risk massive failures that ultimately create larger opportunities for companies positioned to respond to emergency scenarios on short notice. In the portable pumping industry, many markets are not in a state of stagnation, such as mining and energy production. The companies that will continue to thrive will be those that offer engineered solutions across multiple platforms—essentially rendering themselves corporately immune to peaks and valleys from market to market.