Pump Industry magazine has taken a peek behind the scenes, gathering together some of the influencers within the industry to gain an insight into their careers in pumps. Here, we take a look beyond the technology and the issues and meet the personalities that make the pump industry Down Under tick.
Chief Executive Officer,
Brown Brothers Engineers Australia and New Zealand
John Inkster is the CEO of Brown Brothers Engineers New Zealand, Brown Brothers Engineers Australia and Kelair Pumps Australia. Mr Inkster joined Brown Brothers Engineers in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1986 and moved to Australia in January 2000.
Prior to joining Brown Brothers Engineers, John worked for a firm of engineering consultants in Christchurch for 12 years and was involved in the design and construction of rural water supply schemes, and feasibility studies for large irrigation schemes.
During this time, John spent two years in Western Samoa as part of New Zealand’s bilateral aid agreement with the Western Samoan government, designing and constructing small village-based water supply schemes on the islands of Upolu and Savaii.
Brown Brothers Engineers was formed in 1908 and is one of New Zealand’s oldest pump companies. Brown Brothers Engineers and Kelair Pumps are part of the Mace Group of Companies a third generation, family-owned engineering company headquartered in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Mr Inkster is mindful of the impact the economy is currently having on the Australian pump industry. “With the Australian economy facing strong head winds and below trend GDP, most businesses in the pump industry are finding business tough going and we are no exception. We need to be very mindful of costs and await the slow recovery of the economy and an improvement in business confidence.
“Until this happens we are going to see a continued period of consolidation, belt tightening and some further redundancies and lay-offs. There will be no risk taking. The global pump market is exposed to the same issues and I am seeing the same outcomes with the suppliers we are associated with.
“Globally the pump market is striving for better efficiencies and improved life cycle costs so we can expect to see competition driven by new and improved technologies.”
Building connections with colleagues and clients has been the most rewarding part of being involved in the pump industry in Australia. “When I first came to Australia in 2000, Brown Brothers Engineers was not well known, nor was I, so joining the PIA enabled me to meet others involved in the industry. In doing so, BBEA has become more well-known. We have been in Australia now 20 years and are an established player in the pump industry; our association and involvement with the PIA has played a significant role in exposing our name to the greater pumping fraternity.”
Steen Holm Jensen
Steen Holm Jensen is Managing Director for Grundfos Pumps in Australia and is also the Chairman of the Board for Grundfos Pumps NZ. Mr Holm Jensen has over 30 years’ experience working with Grundfos, and has over this period been on the Board of Directors of more than 25 Grundfos companies, including companies in the United States. Mr Holm Jensen has extensive management experience and holds a tertiary degree in Economics from Aarhus University in Denmark, supplemented by various seminars and three stays at the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland.
While with Grundfos, Mr Holm Jensen has held positions within Information Technology and Finance. Prior to being appointed as Managing Director for Grundfos Pumps in 2001, Mr Holm Jensen held the position of Global Segment Director for Wastewater with Grundfos Management A/S.
Outside of Grundfos, Mr Holm Jensen is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of BKB Building Solutions and is the Honorary Danish Consul to South Australia, a position he has held since 2013.
Mr Holm Jensen believes that moving forward, the pump industry must constantly look at new ways to provide value to its customer base. He also believes that it is important to acknowledge some of the new trends currently emerging in the water industry. For Mr Holm Jensen, this includes the evolution of water and wastewater infrastructure, which will be looked more at as a business opportunity attracting stakeholders of all sizes.
“With its relative isolation and unique environmental challenges, the Australian market is well placed as the “first mover” on new business concepts,” said Mr Holm Jensen.
“In many industries, there is a drift towards status quo,” he added. “It is my strong belief that the survivors longer term will be the entities with the ability and courage to drive change.”
For Mr Holm Jensen, the people, the opportunities and the challenges are what he loves about the pump industry in Australia, fuelling his desire to continue the growth of Grundfos
Garry Grant started his pump career in 1990 at Pacific Pumps, where he was the Product Manager for Gorman-Rupp pumps. In 2000 he made the move to Engineered Products Group as the General Product Manager of Pumps, Hydraulics, Transmission and Engines divisions. In 2008 he started Hydro Innovations, where the main focus of the business is the importation, application and distribution of Gorman-Rupp Pumps.
After 25 years in the industry, it’s the people and the challenges that keep Mr Grant excited. “I love the characters one meets in this industry, and I love the challenges,” he said. “I have had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders with operators, engineers, asset owners and folks in many positions in between. Everyone has a story to tell, axe to grind or (sometimes!) helpful advice to offer.
“In this industry each day presents new challenges. New products, competitors, customer expectations – for me, they all help to make the industry interesting even after all these years.”
In the years to come, Mr Grant sees the next major challenges to be centred around the need to deliver more sustainable solutions to customers. “This includes providing not only energy efficient solutions, but efficiency in labour utilisation, efficiency in resources utilisation as well as delivering lower equipment life cycle costs,” he said. “Also, as insurance premiums increase and safety regulations tighten (such as confined spaces), companies will need to deliver safer solutions to their customers’ pumping needs.”
Mr Grant also has a few predictions when it comes to the changes we are likely to see in the industry. “I think that safer and more innovative level control systems will become more demanded, particularly in the municipal wastewater sector,” said Mr Grant. “I also see the use of more sustainable wastewater wet well designs becoming increasingly sought after. These things have already started to appear in Europe, with customers being delivered safer solutions, combined with systems that use less of our natural resources, with lower civil costs and lower life cycle costs. And although the use of variable frequency drives has been increasing, I see their use on pumps increasing even further as sustained pumping efficiency is demanded by the market. I see pump manufacturers looking to design pumps that maintain efficiency, including sewage pump manufacturers who will be asked to maintain peak efficiencies even when pumping wastewater.”
Peter Vila’s career in the pump industry spans more than 35 years. His first five years in the industry were spent servicing and repairing pumps, with the following five spent in pump sales. Over the next 25 years Mr Vila worked in a range of management roles with several prominent pump companies, and since 2012 he has been the Managing Director of SEEPEX Australia, a progressive cavity pump manufacturer with headquarters in Germany and branches worldwide.
Mr Vila has been keenly following the changes in the industry in recent years, and has noticed a shift from a focus on being ‘green’ to being ‘smart’.
“A few years back, the buzz word in industry was green, but that seems to have been replaced recently with a new word, smart. Technology is racing ahead at an incredible rate and for all companies the challenge is to ensure we are not caught standing still as future generations embrace continued technological progress. The pump manufacturers which previously incorporated something green into their product lines must now do likewise with smart technology. Bottom line is remaining connected to one’s markets and listening to their needs,” said Mr Vila.
“At the moment, competition in Australia between global pump manufacturers seems to be at an all time high, certainly in my lifetime. Many overseas manufacturers have been facing challenges for some time on their home turf, and have therefore searched for other opportunities, ultimately seeing Australia as a land of opportunity.
“The result is that we now have more international pump manufacturers with a direct presence in Australia than ever before. From a buyer’s perspective that’s probably a great thing, but for the pump manufacturers, there is the challenge of survival within this congested and highly competitive market. As mentioned previously, smart technology is now a major consideration and it’s only a matter of time before this starts being specified and requested as mandatory, rather than optional. Manufacturers who embrace this technology, incorporate it into their designs and remain firmly connected to their market/s will stand a far greater chance of survival. What happens in Australia won’t be unique to our land, as the world continues to become a smaller place, with events on the other side of the globe often feeling like they’re just next door.”
For Mr Vila, it’s the people and the variety that come with the pump industry that he loves.
“The pump industry is a tight-knit group and over the years you come across the same faces, sometimes not seeing someone for over a decade, then suddenly this young guy you remember is now an old timer standing in front of you, which brings the realisation of how long we’ve been playing this game.
“There’s not too many jobs which take you to the variety of places attended by those in the pump industry. Water and sewage treatment plants, mine sites, mineral processing plants, food and beverage processing plants, pharmaceutical manufacturers, refineries and fuel terminals, chemical processing plants, paper mills, sugar mills, power stations, large ships – they all need pumps. Each visit gives an opportunity to meet new people and learn new processes, all experiences provided by the pump industry and for which I will be forever grateful.”
Managing Director, Sulzer Pumps
Mark Goddard started his career in the aero industry, qualifying as an aircraft technician before moving into the pump industry in South Africa in the 1980s with Stewarts and Lloyds. Mr Goddard then moved to Allis-Chalmers as Product Manager, then was offered the role of General Manager for Morris Pumps (Goulds), where he spent a number of years servicing the mining sector. After a stint in the pulp and paper industry, Mr Goddard made the move to Australia with Sulzer Pumps, where he was responsible for the growth and development of the mining segment for Sulzer in Australia and the South Pacific Islands.
Mr Goddard worked his way up from Sales Manager for Mining, then took on the role of National Sales Manager responsible for mining and pulp and paper. In the last three years Mr Goddard has had the role of Managing Director and Legal Entity Head.
“It has been an incredible journey, challenging but fun. I am fortunate to have been supported by a very competent, dedicated and focused team that has made huge difference. Over the last twelve years the business landscape has changed significantly, the mining boom has come and gone, the influx of cheap imported pumps, the decline in the industrial sector.
“The current market conditions are very volatile and companies need to be agile and dynamic, and able to adapt and change direction very quickly.
One needs to constantly monitor trends and needs of the market and then be able to manipulate resources to meet these new requirements.
“On the manufacturing side this downward trend will continue, and we will still have to compete with low cost imported products flooding and diluting the market. End users are concerned about efficiency and quality, pricing is a major driver, based on their budget constraints. Globally the trends are similar, but they are more aware of life cycle costings, efficiency and maximising up time of their equipment.”
For Mr Goddard, it’s the fact that there’s never a dull moment that forms the appeal of the pump industry. “Putting it simply, there is never a dull moment when one is involved in the pump industry, it is dynamic, every day brings different situations and challenges. The last few years have been exciting and with the change in the business landscape of late the next few years are going to challenging but very exciting.”
Managing Director, Wilo Australia
David began his career in the pump industry over ten years ago and is the current Managing Director of Wilo Australia, a full subsidiary of the German group Wilo SE. Mr Kerridge was involved with the foundation of Wilo in the Australian pump market and has since progressed through the company in key positions to now lead the Australian subsidiary. With key interests in marketing and management, Mr Kerridge was voted in 2013 as one of the Top 30 Young Managers Under 30 in Australia by the Australian Institute of Management. The ultimate driver for Mr Kerridge is to steer a company with a strong culture at its heart that focuses on delivering best in class products, services and experiences.
For Mr Kerridge, there’s much to like about being a part of the Australian pump industry. “The pump industry offers large possibilities in a relatively stable career environment for the right person,” he said. “The Australian industry is well known for long-term personal relationships formed in people’s networks. The constant challenge of meeting and exceeding customer expectations is what drives me and
Mr Kerridge believes that companies in the pump industry need to adapt to meet current market conditions. “Wilo is going beyond pumps. We’ve identified that providing solutions rather than products is what the market is now demanding of manufacturers,” he said. “We are looking to combine energy-saving products with smart system solutions to assist our customers tackle the global megatrend of energy shortage.”
According to Mr Kerridge, energy efficiency is the key change taking place in the industry at the moment. “Following on from the trend in Europe, I think such a developed and mature country like Australia will move towards energy efficiency and technological advanced products. The payback periods on these investments are getting shorter and shorter and I firmly believe this will be the largest growth area in the coming years.”
Product Manager – Slurry Pumps,
Weir Minerals Australia
Julie Truss has been involved in the mining industry and with slurry pump systems for over 12 years. After completing a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) from University of Adelaide with first class Honours, Julie spent four years as an Area Manager for Weir Warman (now Weir Minerals Australia), supporting mine sites across South Australia and the Northern Territory. Julie was then promoted to Territory Manager for SA/NT/Vic/Tas, and completed an MBA from University of Adelaide in 2010, where she won the prize ‘The Head of School’s List of Top MBA Graduates’.
In 2011 Julie became Weir’s Product Manager, Slurry Pumps. In this role she remains passionate about understanding individual site needs situations and delivering real benefits through practical, reliable pumping solutions.
“At Weir Minerals, we need to continually focus on creating products and processes that really maximise profits for our customers,” said Ms Truss.
“This includes focusing on equipment design as well as materials technology – creating products that not only deliver the best throughput, but last between scheduled maintenance periods. We look at continuous improvement for our existing pump models, and pioneer developments to create the pumps of the future. We have the centrifugal slurry pump Global Design Centre of Origin right here in Australia – where our engineers are working every day on developing Warman pumps to meet our customers’ needs. We need to keep listening and working with our customers to provide them with the solutions they are looking for.
“We also need to think outside the box – how can we create better solutions for our customers? Understanding how pumps fit in the system is critical – Warman pumps are, and have long been, a trusted brand in the industry, but by combining this technology with the industry leading processing equipment products that Weir Minerals offers, we can provide complete plant solutions. By maximising efficiency and throughput at every stage of the process we ensure that all equipment works together to give the most reliable, optimised slurry transportation system.”
Ms Truss is expecting big changes for the industry in the near future, particularly in light of the current state of play in the mining industry. “As grades decline, for example iron ore, customers will continue to focus on maximising throughput with the greatest efficiency possible,” said Ms Truss. “They will continue to ask for more reliability and longer wear life from their existing slurry equipment. Capex available for new equipment is becoming more scarce, so aligning with customers to optimise their existing pumps and systems will be very important. Thankfully, this is nothing new for us, as the product development team for Warman pumps has been doing it for decades, and Weir Minerals is dedicated to continuing this business model.
“Globally there will be similar trends towards efficiencies, although some countries are bound to see a greater volume of capital spending than Australia.”
For Ms Truss, being involved with Warman pumps for over 12 years has been a really enjoyable ride. “I have met some amazing, talented, passionate and extremely knowledgeable people in my time,” said Ms Truss. “Collaborating with customers has meant I have been involved in solving numerous problems, saving much downtime, reducing spend and adding value to their businesses. There aren’t many industries/jobs where you get that combination of passionate people coming together, willing to try new ideas and make improvements.
“I have enjoyed seeing pumps leaving the factory looking pristine, but probably more so seeing Warman pumps on a mine site where they have been tirelessly pumping slurry around since before I was born. My favourite nostalgia moment was visiting a site only to find that the Warman pump I was there to look at was actually pump #391 built by the Warman Equipment Company in Kalgoorlie back in the 1940s – it even had the original nameplate!”
General Manager – Oceania, Xylem Water Systems Australia
John Weaver began his career as an apprentice motor mechanic at the original MMBW – the Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works. After a number of years and having moved through several roles within the organisation, Mr Weaver took up his first appointment with the German based safety company Draeger as a sales representative. Over the next 14 years with Draeger, Mr Weaver progressed through a number of senior sales and marketing roles. Mr Weaver then made the move to Davey Water Products, where again he moved through a number of senior sales and marketing roles over thirteen years, embracing a diverse range of pump products for rural, household, fire-fighting, industrial and swimming pool applications.
Two and half years ago, Mr Weaver joined Xylem Water Systems as General Manager – Oceania, with the brief to significantly expand applications for the diverse pumping products available under a range of market leading brand names. Internationally recognised brands such as Lowara, Vogel, Bell & Gossett and Gould’s Water Technology head up a stable of world leading products being promoted into this region of the world.
Mr Weaver believes that the companies that will succeed in the years to come are those that are continually reviewing the way they do business and reacting to changes in the market. “Whether they are cost changes, technology changes or demand changes, it is important to continually look at what you are doing and how you are doing it,” he said. “During the millennium drought it was easy to gain pump sales as the market was driving sales and demand was high. As conditions change (weather, economic or technology) it is important to accept the change quickly and to keep moving forward to capitalise or adapt to the new market conditions. The market today is different to the market of two years ago and the market today will be different to the market in two years’ time.
“Companies have to accept the prevailing conditions in which we operate and adjust their strategic approach to those conditions. Past successes guide us but keeping a close eye on prevailing and potential future conditions provides future success in changing markets.”
Mr Weaver has identified new performance standards and energy efficiency regulations as driving pump technology towards new and improved products. “In a world where energy conservation is paramount in society, it is incumbent upon product manufacturers to develop products that deliver savings in operational costs as well as offering opportunities to enhance their environmental footprint,” he said. “The new pump efficiency requirements introduced into Europe earlier this year will create a flow on effect into this part of the world. By default more efficient products will flow into our region and will create a demand or expectation from users to be able to utilise these efficiency gains in their day to day operations.”
For Mr Weaver it is the variety the pump industry offers that is fulfilling to him. “The pump industry in Australia offers so many varied areas in which to operate. For Xylem, our success is found in decades of technology and innovation in the water industry. Being involved with a company that has strong values of respect, responsibility, integrity and creativity with our long standing customer relationships is exciting and rewarding.
“The challenge of providing distinctive water solutions to our customers in Australia makes going to work each day an enjoyable challenge.”