State of the Industry 2019

Pumps & Systems staff spoke with Mersino president and CEO Gino Mersino about the state of the industry entering 2019.

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What keeps you up at night?

Quite frankly, with the economy surging forward again since what seemed like a generational low in 2016 (especially in our specific industry space), I no longer lose sleep thinking about where to find opportunities for revenue generation. The opportunities are out there. The challenges today are what one would expect in this economy, and that is recruiting and hiring good talent – especially in a trade that has seen declining participation or labor entry for a very long time. We have also found that it is very important for our company to be self reliant with respect to employee development. There simply isn’t a large pool of trained labor out there to pull from, so our company has found it important to recruit people based upon core value alignment, with the intention of providing them the education and tools to succeed in a growing marketplace in our industry. Lastly, it is paramount for us to do all that we can to retain that talent once we have put them on a path for success, and this challenge requires solutions beyond simple compensation advancements. I suppose, as it always has been, it is about the people, the team, and the larger culture you develop. People are your greatest asset. I used to pay lip service to this axiom. I understand now, better than at any other point in my life, that this is more than a simple saying. It is an absolute maxim. These are the things that occupy my time and contemplation.

What are you most optimistic about in 2019?

There are so many things that I am optimistic about. There is a tremendous amount of pent up demand after the long period of stagnation we have experienced over the recent past. Add to this the cooperation from our federal government to spur economic activity – as seen with tax policies, such as the 100 percent deductibility of capital expenditures in a given fiscal period, as an example. And I expect to see a major infrastructure bill that will also impact our industry space in a significant way. Generally, demand is on the upswing, which requires supply to follow. It’s really a simple equation. I am optimistic we will see growth in every sector.

How has the current political climate affected your industry?

The political climate hasn’t impacted us in any way, quite frankly. Specific policy, via de-regulation and legislative action has had a tremendous impact upon us. I suppose that the question is very broad and open to interpretation. Did the political climate – with respect to #resist, or #metoo, impact us? We have certainly attempted to be very sensitive to every person’s point of view, but I believe we always have operated that way. Did it affect our industry at large? I don’t believe so. Did the political climate – with respect to optimism in general, impact the investment we are seeing now in the private sector? I do believe that has absolutely happened. But I believe that is more related to actual policy or entrepreneurial expectations of future policy, not a political climate, per se.

What are the top jobs you need to fill?

We have needs in so many areas, it is difficult to provide a schedule. And those needs are a direct result of the economic boom we are experiencing. I do believe that we are benefitting more than our competition during this boom, and that is related to our superior products and people, as well as our unique approach to the market. That said, the rapid growth we are experiencing leaves us needing to be proactive with respect to recruiting and hiring people of all types, all skills, for all positions across the entire spectrum within a hierarchy a company would have.

What is your company (or the ones you serve) doing to address the skills gap?

As previously mentioned in response to a prior question, we have understood the need to be proactive - as a company – in training and educating our team as we recruit and add more talent. We have recognized the declining availability of talented and trained personnel in our industry space, and we have also learned by being observant of those companies who have succeeded in similar scenarios in prior periods. We need to be prepared to develop our own teammates, by finding those eager to learn, who share the same desire to operate with honesty and integrity, willingness to work hard, with a tenacity to succeed. This is exactly what we are doing.

How do you expect the brewing trade war to impact the your industry in 2019? How will countries outside of the U.S. and China be affected?

We certainly are aware of the potential for a dynamic shift in the global economy, especially with respect to outsourcing to Asian countries. We are taking steps to react swiftly should a trade war erupt. With that said, we have always sought to have a diversified supply chain, one that provides flexibility given the propensity for changing geo-political winds. There may be a shift towards more domestic production. We welcome that and are ready for such a change. Conversely, we hope to see domestic exports increase. Despite some uncertainty, there is always opportunity, if one is not blinded by a desire to maintain the status quo. We welcome change as an opportunity.

What else should we and our readers know about? Anything else you want to add?

The most important thing for any business is a growing economy. We see an upward trend that could last for many years. We are very optimistic about what is to come. We hope to be on the leading edge, seizing opportunities while always acting nimbly when confronted with change. We believe we are a company fully capable of both. We have the resources and personnel to do amazing things, yet we aren’t so large that we are unable to navigate troubled waters. Above all, we always understand that – to be successful – we must never lose sight of the customer. We differentiate ourselves from our competition by seeking to be a full service solutions provider, not by merely serving as a vendor of widgets. It is by providing supreme customer support and service, along with a robust product (all of which translates into superior customer satisfaction) that any company can succeed no matter what challenges arise.