Andrew Carver weighs in on the state of the industry for 2019.

Carver Pump CEO Andrew Carver answers questions for the Pumps & Systems annual State of the Industry survey of pumps professionals.

For extensive state of the industry coverage, click here.

How are international politics and issues like the steel tariffs affecting your business and/or the pumps industry overall?
As a U.S. manufacturer with primarily U.S. material inputs, we have only experienced a small effect due to steel tariffs. Like other manufacturers, we’ve received price increases for some components, but in most cases, we’ve been able to absorb these costs without passing them on to our customers.

Are changes in the workforce affecting your company? What are you doing to try to mitigate issues related to the skills gap? What are you doing to attract millennials and younger workers to the field/your company?
Our workforce is aging and many experienced team members have retired or are approaching retirement age. We’ve hired a number of early career engineers and encouraged training and mentorship opportunities. On the manufacturing side, we’ve implemented an internship program to attract high-potential workers with no experience in production technologies. Interns train with experienced machinists during the day and go to school at night. It’s been a tremendous success, and 80 percent of our new production staff in the past 10 years has gone through this program.

What keeps you up at night?
The economy has been rocking for the past couple of years, and we are working on 10 years of economic expansion. Recent inflationary pressures have led to interest rates that we haven’t seen for a number of years. It gives the feeling that interest rates may continue to climb until something in the economy breaks. The housing market has already softened, and other sectors may follow. The inherent unpredictability of it all can make you an insomniac if you think about it too much.

What are you most optimistic about in 2019?
In response to increased business activity, we’ve increased staffing by more than 10 percent. The quality and enthusiasm of our new employees is inspiring. With targeted capital expenditures and productivity enhancements, we will continue to ramp up capacity significantly over the coming 12 months.

What else should the end users who read Pumps & Systems know about the year ahead?
The traditional supplier base for the pump industry is becoming highly stressed by the rapid growth in demand for industrial products. Lead times on castings, motors, seals and similar components are increasing significantly. This will cause the pump industry as a whole to become less responsive to emergent needs. Long-term planning will be critical to the successful deployment of any new project that requires industrial equipment.