Volume 8 | Issue 3 | Year 2005

Jabsco is recognized worldwide as a leading brand in pumping systems and associated accessories. Indeed, more than 60 years ago, Jabsco invented the flexible impeller pump. The company holds a 50 percent global market share on this technology. The reason is simple, says Chris Marocchi, marketing manager, “The Jabsco philosophy is that if you make good fit-for-purpose products, you will earn a good name. We’ve done that for over a half-century.”

Jabsco Worldwide is a subsidiary of ITT Industries, Inc., the global engineering and manufacturing company widely regarded as the world’s premier supplier of pumps, systems and services to move and control water and other fluids. ITT established that reputation through its acquisition of Jabsco 45 years ago. Headquartered in Gloucester, Mass., Jabsco’s core business is manufacturing marine pumps, in addition to water and sanitary food processing systems. In 1999, ITT acquired FLOJET Corporation, a leading global supplier of small pumps, motors and accessories for the beverage, general industrial equipment, agricultural/lawn and garden, automotive, car wash, floor care, water purification and dispensing, recreational vehicle and marine segments. FLOJET is located in Foothill Ranch, Calif. About a year prior to purchasing FLOJET, ITT also acquired Rule Industries, a manufacturer of submersible bilge and livewell pumps and various marine accessories such as compasses, winches and boat care products, located in Gloucester, Mass. All three companies are organized under the corporate aegis of Jabsco Worldwide, with corporate offices in Gloucester and a total of 700 employees, and address four major market segments: marine/recreational vehicle, industrial, beverage, and sanitary.

While marine and recreational vehicle might not at first seem to be a natural pairing, Marocchi points out that the same pumping systems used to distribute water and convey waste on a boat are very similar to those used in recreation vehicles. In the industrial segment, the lawn & garden industry in particular is a customer segment that is showing significant growth potential. A dedicated sales force or rep group works through distributors and direct to major OEM customers in each of the three markets to better address specialized needs.

Similarly, manufacturing facilities are aligned primarily on the market segment served. Flojet operates a 144,000-square-foot facility in Foothill Ranch, along with a 45,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and 35,000-square-foot warehouse attached to its office space. European facilities comprise roughly 5,200 square feet. In addition to manufacturing space at its corporate headquarters in Gloucester, there is also off-shore manufacturing space in China.

Low-Cost versus high performance
Like every global company, Jabsco is under pressure to reduce costs. The typical strategy is to rely on the low-labor manufacturing costs of offshore sourcing, but Marocchi cautions that this is not always the optimum solution for every application. “There are less-expensive knock-offs of our products, but they tend to be of poor quality. Copies manufactured in China typically have a higher failure rate precisely because they are reverse-engineered without the features and quality control that make our products more durable and efficient.”

Manufacturing offshore is not, however, necessarily a bad thing for Jabsco Worldwide. “For certain applications, the life of the pump isn’t important if the cost of the pump is sufficiently inexpensive,” Marocchi explains. For example, the bulk of the U.S. bilge pump business is high-volume. If a $40 pump breaks at some point, you can throw it out and replace it with a new one. However, you aren’t going to want to do that with a pump that costs $1,500.”

So, while Jabsco, like any other company, may turn to offshore sourcing for some high-volume commodity products, where it really primes its business is with high performance, high quality pumps where the knock-offs wind up costing the customer more over time than the initial purchase price.

“What distinguishes a Jabsco pump from our competitors is constant innovation with a product designed for optimum ease-of-use, durability and functionality,” says Marocchi. “A ‘sealless’ design on our line of sanitary lobe pumps, for example, eliminates costly, difficult to service dynamic shaft seals. The positive displacement diaphragm design of FLOJET pumps makes them ideal for use in conditions that require self-priming and dry running capability in intermittent duty applications. Additionally, the compact size of our pumps makes them very useful in tight spaces where you cannot ensure a flooded suction. Because of the superior design and higher operating efficiency, our pumps are the choice of OEMs where low power consumption is critical.”

Innovative Pumping
A case in point is Jabsco’s new Hy~Line 7-Size hygienic rotary lobe pump designed for sanitary use in the pharmaceutical, dairy, food processing, personal care, chemical, and industrial markets. The pump is truly easy to use and maintain with front loading single shaft seals fully accessible from the front of the pump, without disturbing the process pipe work. Simple bearing assemblies are easily pre-set using automotive technology, and the bi-wing rotors require no timing adjustments. Even the pump casing is removable with a simple turn of the wrench, a feature not typical with similar pumps.

“What’s unique here is the ‘clean-in-place’ feature,” Marocchi says. “It allows users to maintain the pump without having to remove it from the system or take it back to the distributor for maintenance. Besides the sheer simplicity of cleaning, it serves to reduce overall maintenance costs.”

Another exciting new product introduction, due out in the second quarter of 2005, is the Permanent Oil Changer. As the name implies, this innovation employs a pump bolted to within four feet of the engine drain plug to provide for the automatic draining and adding of oil to commercial engines such as diesel equipment, buses, motor homes, boats and generators. A machined hose connector plug replaces the drain plug and an oil resistant automotive hose is permanently installed between the plug and the pump. The drain/fill hose is attached to the pump mounted brass quick release only when removing or adding oil. Regular maintenance is completed faster and more efficiently.

“Another technology we’ve developed that is new to our markets is a line of variable speed drive pumps, Marocchi points out. “These pumps have a sensor that immediately picks up a drop in pressure and corrects for it. If you’ve ever been taking a shower in your house and someone else turns on a faucet or flushes a toilet, and your hot pouring water massage turns into a cold trickle, you’ll appreciate this. In a boat or an RV, if several water faucets or outlets are being used simultaneously, the pump automatically adjusts to ensure that flow and pressure are maintained. And it’s done in real time, so the user doesn’t notice for a second that someone else may be ‘tapping in.’ By the same token, when pressure demand decreases, the pump automatically decreases speed, ensuring optimal operating efficiencies at all times, during any conditions.”

Further enhancing the line of VSD pumps is the new Platinum VSD, which can handle pressures up to 80 psi, which, says Marocchi, “is unmatched in the industry.” It has a capacity of six gallons per minute flow rate; the nearest competitive capability is about five gallons per minute and less than 60 psi.

Future Business Flow
Marocchi expects to see the most upcoming opportunity in the RV market. “There’s a significant number of baby boomers acquiring these vehicles and the segment is expected to grow. Right now we have relatively small market share, but with new product introductions we expect to see a significant increase in our sales.”

Industrial sales are expected to rise 10 to 15 percent, which is also the projection for Jabsco’s traditional primary marine market. “There’s lots of opportunity for us,” Marocchi says. “And we’re properly positioned to take full advantage of it.”

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