In 1991 I started at Process Systems, Inc. I was hired to provide marketing and other sales support for the company. I drafted IOMs, training materials, pump life-cycle cost analyses, sales proposals, brochures, and such. We were about to launch the Protect-a-Pump© screen system, the Multi-series vertical turbine for high pressure applications, and our integrated VFD package and “selling off a napkin” was no longer a viable option. I left the company in the mid-90s before its sale to Crane Pumps & Systems and with the insight that my position would no longer remain post-acquisition.
After spending many years as a technology and operations project manager, I returned to the industry, applying the relationship management skills I had developed over the previous 20+ years.
I will never forget the time in 1992 Mike Jones and I were added to the agenda of the North American Assembly Plant Managers meeting in Oakville, Ontario. We were there to pitch the brand new Protect-A-Pump screen systems, which we thought would be a hit based on their key benefit: eliminate debris-induced pump failure, which aligned perfectly with Ford’s highly touted formal initiative to minimize production equipment failures and costs. We passed out materials, made our pitch and asked for questions. The first came from Ford’s Failure Mode Analysis and Effects subject matter expert. He demanded hard evidence of the product’s ROI and to come back once we had it. Classic chicken and egg question. We needed experience before we could have proof and we couldn’t get that proof unless they were open to trying. Perhaps the wisdom of experience among the plant managers won out because before long 16 of 19 plants had adopted the screen system.
There is the physics side to hydraulics and learning the rules and formulas is necessary. We also need to understand well the systems on which our pumps and process equipment operates, and the endless combinations of fluids, seal materials, temperatures, materials of construction, speeds, electrical service, altitudes, etc. that play into finding the right solution. We learn through courses and books but we teach each other through our stories. The refrain “I learn something new every day” - made over and over by our veterans - is no understatement. It is through these oral case studies that an appreciation for the big picture is gained. Thank goodness that I sit right in the middle of them and that our culture is very collaborative. This is truly a great place to work.