James Blannin began his career as an apprentice screen printer before finding his way into the pump industry in sales. Since then he has gone on to become Part Owner at Stevco Pumps & Seals’ Victoria branch and is currently Vice President of Pump Industry Australia (PIA). Here, James talks about his career to date, where the industry is heading and the important role the PIA plays in the industry.
Getting into the industry
I first started in the industry selling air operated positive displacement pumps in 2004 for Oliver Spray Equipment. I had worked in manufacturing of oils and then adhesives before applying for an internal role at Oliver Spray Equipment, it was then that the Manager offered me the role in external sales.
Since then I have worked for Transmark FCX—which was bought out by Cooper Fluid Systems—then Pumpline which changed to Airblast.
I have worked on some great and memorable projects during my time in the industry, but personally the most memorable moment in my career to date was when I made the move from Branch Manager to Part Owner in STEVCO Seals & Pumps Victoria.
One of the things I really enjoy about working in this industry is the variety of pump applications, whether its for wastewater, freshwater, food processing, plural component mixing for potting or adhesive applications.
I also enjoy the general industry—it is amazing the different solutions that people use for transferring fluids.
Mentors and personalities
I have had many people I have sought advice from during my career in the industry. The first mentor I had was Tony Warby at Oliver Spray Equipment. He taught me a lot about myself on a personal level, as well as being a mentor on large projects teaching me how to pull together a successful proposal to completing a project. I am glad to say that I still keep in contact with him.
Other than Tony, I have worked with a number of other memorable pump personalities during my time in the industry, such as Peter King, who would be better known in the industrial spray game, but his knowledge and ability to recall part numbers off the top of his head is impressive.
I have also worked with John Lynch who was well known in Automotive/APV circles.
Helping the industry
I became Vice President of PIA this year, after I was approached by John Inkster to support him in his role as President. I have a lot of respect for John and was humbled that he would invite me to take up this role.
I would like the PIA to be better known as the industry representative among pump distributors in the near future.
As the only association dedicated to pumps, I think it is important for people in the industry to have a body that can provide information, training, consultation to government and peak bodies as well as provide networking opportunities for all.
A changing industry
One of the developments that has happened since I started in the industry that comes to mind is the mandatory star rating that will be enforced soon on smaller pool pumps.
Although it does not affect my business directly I believe the move towards energy efficiency will eventually affect us all in the industry.
I think one of the greatest challenges currently facing the pump industry is the access to information, and this will continue to play a big part in the future.
It can be difficult to purchase or sell the best solutions if you are unaware of what current technology exists, hence the importance of a body like the PIA.
Advising the next generation
While a career in the pump industry is not going to make you rich, it is a rewarding industry if you persevere.
You will meet a lot of interesting and inspiring characters, and hear a lot of stories, but like any other career, you need to work hard.
My best advice for those starting out is to find a mentor who will spend the time to work through problems and applications and will help guide you in finding the best solution.
You don’t need to do it all yourself.
A life outside of pumps
This year I have coached a junior basketball team, as well as playing in a senior’s team. I have also spent the last year coordinating the local Auskick centre, and having a go at Super Rules Football.
I also enjoy camping and getting out on the motorbike.