Top level industry executives are returning to basic business fundamentals in order to survive in an economic climate that remains uncertain. Each January, Pumps & Systems publishes a report on the State of the Industry. As a sign of the times, this year we decided to take a new spin and focus specifically on “Succeeding in Today's Economy.”

We once again asked a distinguished panel of industry executives to comment on business trends and strategies and more important, we asked them to forecast ideas for moving forward in 2010.

Based on their expert insight, the impact of the Stimulus Package continues to be a common topic of discussion. The industry is finally feeling some positive effects from the bill that has promised to provide a multi-billion dollar boost to the pump industry, particularly in the water and wastewater sectors.

Most executives are not waiting on (or counting on) government funds. They are focusing on business fundamentals and finding creative ways to produce more efficient products and services. Key strategies on the minds of industry executives include managing talent, streamlining processes, reducing operating costs, improving plant performance, managing and controlling inventory, becoming globally diverse and continuing to focus on improving technology.

According to Grundfos Pumps USA President Dennis Wierzbicki, managing supply chains will also be an important strategy for 2010. “As the U.S. begins to grow again, and it will, manufacturers' approach to markets will be critical for supply chain partners to understand,” he says. “Confusing people in the supply chain will only make it difficult to sell your products and more important for end users to get access.

“Beyond this, the basic business axioms will be needed. Continue to improve processes to be more efficient for the customer and reduce costs. Continue to focus on inventory management, manufacturing excellence and relationship management with shareholders.”

One theme that seems to be a unanimous strategy for companies to succeed in today's turbulent economy is a continued focus on the customer. “In the end, it is the customers' perception that matters,” Wierzbicki says. “Interestingly enough, the customers' needs are what always seem to provide the compass to develop plans.”