CHICAGO (April 16, 2013) – The week of April 16, I was in Chicago covering three industry events for Pumps & Systems. The first event on April 16 was Grundfos’ groundbreaking ceremony for its new North American headquarters in Downers Grove. On April 17, I attended the Submersible Wastewater Pump Association Pumping Systems & Controls Training Seminar (SWPA). I was also scheduled to tour HydroAire Inc.’s wastewater treatment facility on April 18. However, because of record flooding in Chicago that day, I had to reschedule.   

As I watched the coverage of the flooding from my hotel room and checked my phone for updates on flight delays, I thought about how the flooding exemplified the importance of pumps in people’s lives–a theme I heard throughout my interviews with pump industry professionals. However, I only heard pumps mentioned once during the news coverage. The lack of knowledge about the important purpose that pumps serve in our society was a memorable part of my interview with Soren Sorensen, Grundfos Group Executive Vice President and Chairman of the Grundfos North American Board, and Jes Munk Hansen, President of Grundfos North America. While explaining their future plans for clean water initiatives and upgrading the state’s aging water infrastructure system, they emphasized that they would like to change the way people think about pumps–namely, to show them how pumps are a relevant and important part of their daily lives and society in the U.S.

In his introductory speech at the groundbreaking ceremony, Hansen explained that a pump is a device that moves water, but it is also much more than that. A pump’s association with water, and water’s subsequent effect on almost every aspect of our lives, makes a pump’s use in society not just significant, but essential.

 “Without water, there is no economic growth, no prosperity and no life,” Hansen said.

The day after the groundbreaking ceremony in Downers Grove, the community was declared a disaster area because of flooding. Some of Grundfos’ pumps were even used to help clear the water. According to the Chicago Tribune, more than 1,000 residential and commercial buildings flooded, and about 850 residents lost power in Downers Grove. Chicago’s local CBS station reported more than 1,200 calls of flooded basements and 425 calls of flooded streets in the Chicago area. Flooding shut down some of the expressways, and O’Hare International Airport reported 500 flight cancellations, according to Reuters. Some areas of Chicago saw almost 7 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. The city usually averages a little more than 3 inches for the whole month of April, according to

To hear more from Hansen and Sorensen about the important role of pumps in society, watch Part 1 of my five-part interview below. Watch for Parts 2-5, which will cover Grundfos’ plans for upgrading the infrastructure, the new technologies that can reduce waste and energy consumption, and the state of the pump industry, in my upcoming blogs.