Volume 2 | Issue 6 | Year 1999

Mark Devaney follows the flow of water through the products of the Pentair Pump Group, a company that knows how to pump fluids.

On a Sunday evening, March 2, 1997, the Myers pump team received an emergency phone call. Its concerns about the Ohio Valley were confirmed; the flooding was severe. Across North Central Ohio, lights went on and the team sprang into action.

That same night, crews in the company’s Ashland facility loaded two full truckloads of sump pumps and shipped them in time to residents in the worst hit areas near Louisville, Ky.

“We don’t just go the extra mile for our customers, we go the extra 100 miles” says Kathie Buetow, vice president of sales and marketing for the Ashland Operations of the Pentair Pump Group. “We want to be there when our customers need us and deliver service beyond their expectations. This level of service is not reserved just for emergencies, either – it is a commitment felt by all of us at Pentair. We work every day to provide an extraordinary level of service that we hope our customers will remember.”

The Group’s customer-centric attitude is a rich tradition that permeates the entire organization. Company President Mike Schrock is continuing that tradition while leading the Pentair Pump Group into new markets. Schrock brings an experienced international perspective to the company. Previously, with Honeywell, Inc., he served as a vice president of sales, marketing and operations throughout Europe.

In the United States, the Pentair Pump Group’s success stems from the diverse, yet complementary, nature of the companies within the group. Brands such as Myers, Aurora, Fairbanks, Morse and Hydromatic each play a critical part in positioning Pentair Pump Group as the de facto choice in water and wastewater management products. And while the branches of the tree extend its reach, the roots are solidly grounded in parent company Pentair Inc. (NYSE: PNR), a $1.9 billion industrial manufacturer with 50 locations throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

Pump Up The Volume

Two years ago, Pentair made its fourth water products acquisition in 21 months with the purchase of General Signal Pump Group. The buy gained Pentair three brand-name pump businesses: Aurora, Hydromatic and Fairbanks Morse. These three businesses were combined with the Myers pump company to form the Pentair Pump Group. With its collective brands, the Pentair Pump Group is now able to meet the needs of customers across a broad spectrum of water and wastewater applications.

Myers, based in Ashland, Ohio, was founded in 1870 by the brothers Myers, who invented the double-acting hand pump. This meant that, for the first time, water could be pumped on both the up and down strokes. That was just the start of a long line of innovations. Today, Myers is known for a full range of pumps and pumping systems, including jet and submersible well pumps; sump, effluent, sewage, grinder and non-clog pumps; and centrifugal and reciprocating pumps.

Aurora, founded in 1919 and based in North Aurora, Ill., manufactures end-suction pumps, regenerative turbines, and non-clog, and split case pumps for a variety of markets, but especially those geared toward large commercial facilities such as high rises, offices, schools and hospitals. In addition, Aurora’s fire pumps are found the world over, helping to protect building occupants in the event of fire.

Fairbanks Morse, founded in 1830 and based in Kansas City, Kan., manufactures fire pumps, submersible and dry-pit non-clog pumps, and vertical turbine and split-case pumps for the municipal market, primarily to move water to be cleaned and purified for human consumption. Fairbanks Morse products cover the larger end of the pumping spectrum, including the design and construction of pumps capable of moving a million gallons a minute or more.

Hydromatic, also based in Ashland, Ohio, was founded in 1959 by former Myers employees who wanted to venture into the wastewater pump business with sump, effluent, grinder and non-clog pumps. At that time, Myers chose to make pumps for “clean” water management only. The operation was a tremendous success. Two decades later, Myers did enter the wastewater market, and today, both Hydromatic and Myers have captured a leadership share in the wastewater market.

In total, the Pentair Pump Group has more than 1,300 employees working in more than 1.2 million square feet of manufacturing space. In addition to the brand name pumps of Myers, Aurora, Fairbanks Morse and Hydromatic, the company sells APCO, Layne & Bowler, Aplex, Shur-Dri and Water Ace products.

Employing Ideas

More than just committed customer service and synergistic products bind the Pentair Pump Group companies together. Innovation and technological improvements are the rule, not the exception.

According to Schrock, “We have a pool of capital reserved to support product innovations, and we intend to use it. Each facility participates in an aggressive new product development program. Our objective is to triple the business resulting from products introduced in the last three years.” Just as customer service is accepted as “everyone’s responsibility,” innovation in the Pentair Pump Group can come from any corner. Schrock observes, “As we see markets and technology change, we need to be quickly adaptable to be ready to serve our customers’ needs. I like to think we foster an environment where everyone is inspired and encouraged to think of new products and processes.”

To provide structure to the creative process, the Pentair Pump Group has devised a four step “gateway” to promote innovation. Buetow says, “All new ideas are welcomed. Even though a new idea may at first appear not to be viable, one idea can spark another, and the resulting concept continues to be formed and shaped until we have a viable product. Our disciplined process assures that all ideas are considered and the very best make it through to production.”

Currently, it is that sense of co-determination and mutual respect that keeps Pentair Pump Group employees loyal to the company, according to Schrock, who points to the lengthy tenures of company employees as proof.

“When you consider that all our employees are crafts- people with a passion for customers and that we are backed by Pentair, which also owns our strong sister companies, including Porter Cable, Delta International, Hoffman Enclosures, and Fleck Controls, there really is only one choice,” says Schrock. “Among the half dozen national players in this market, we’re clearly a leader in providing water and wastewater pump products from A to Z.”