The end of 2021 marked the end of an era at our Great Lakes Pump & Supply division. John P. King retired after 37 years in the fluid management industry.
JPK, as he’s known to his coworkers, started in the shop of vertical turbine pump manufacturing company Process Systems, Inc (which became a Ruthman Company in 2004). He joined as a mechanics helper and progressed through various positions including machine shop foreman, application engineer, manufacturing manager, and then on to outside sales.
In 2010, John took all the pump expertise gained at Process Systems to sister Ruthman division Great Lakes Pump & Supply. As a sales engineer, John continued to work with Process Systems’ pumps as well as pumps and equipment from other major manufacturers.
John’s work took him around the globe with trips to Germany, South Korea, and Italy. One of his fondest memories is a trip to Brazil for Process Systems. Of that trip, he said, “The travel experience was amazing. I was in a different world. The food, the people, language, mountains…even the trees were different. The BBQ was incredible. After a week in a Chrysler plant in Curitiba, Brazil, rebuilding a vertical turbine pump on a machine tool coolant service, I was thrilled to return home. I still cherish that experience.”
John looked at fluid management as both a science and an art. He believed that in pumps and manufacturing, you think of equipment, metal castings, electric motors, piping, but in the end, the biggest challenges sometimes come down to people. He overcame these challenges by being patient and listening first. His success in this area made an impression on all his colleagues, which is reflected in their glowing tributes, below.
I had the great pleasure of working with John for two months as he transitioned his accounts prior to retirement. I have been the pump business for over 30 years and in that time, I never worked with a more relaxed individual. He was sincere, patient and most of all very knowledgeable. I learned more in those two months working with him than anyone else to date. I appreciate the time, effort and patience he gave me. Still to this day, if I need any info on a customer or their equipment or what they like for lunch, John has been there for me! The one thing that I ask of John is: please don’t change your phone number!!
I’ve been with Great Lakes Pump since mid-2019. When I met John he was ready to start training me almost immediately. He had the mindset that customer service is what drives good relationships with the customers. He stressed it constantly that follow-up on orders and quotes made the difference in growing/expanding.
His patience and instructional way of showing how to communicate with vendors and customers is by far the best in the business; he is the master. He demonstrated a great sense of leadership having so many years of experience and used it to train me on a number of job functions that were passed on to me. (Sort of like Yoda training Luke Skywalker.) Though I only had a few years with John, his guidance helped me become better at the job. I definitely learned a lot.
When I joined the group, I had to ramp up my product, industry, application, and internal process knowledge all at the same time. I sat right next to John and Eddie [Adams]. This meant that John was at the receiving end of about 1,000 questions in year one and hundreds more thereafter. And that meant I got to learn from the calm and cool sensei of centrifugal pumps, complete with his smooth, radio personality voice. I’m a lucky man as both John (and Eddie) took me under their wing.
Another memorable and important part of my time in our “pod” is dealing with heart attacks. To a plant, when a pump goes down or is struggling, it’s akin to someone having the heart attack. Heart goes down, patient is not good. Same with the plant. So dealing with those “serious as a heart attack” phone calls requires a bit of applying knowledge and experience but also of finding a way to add to relief, to take pressure off the cooker. John was very skilled at finding the alley to some backend humor, to get a chuckle somewhere, somehow, even when the situation was giving him or me the deep furrow on the brow. It’s good to laugh at work and JPK was an excellent instigator.
I could write a book about JPK. I have known John since 1999, when I joined Great Lakes Pump. John gained my respect the very first time I met him. He is a dedicated, hard worker that became a true friend of mine through the years. When John came to GLP back in 2011, he and I worked together on a few large key accounts. We won many major projects in the auto industry. He made every job we worked on together enjoyable.
I saw so many comments from customers when John announced he was retiring. His customers loved him and I understand why. I will miss working with John every day. His friendship, professionalism, character and work ethic are not replaceable. Every time we landed a job, we had this famous statement between us “you got one for me?” Teamwork and friendship make your job what it should be. I wish JPK the best in his retirement and I look forward to the next time we get together. Cheers JPK! You made my job enjoyable, and I will always appreciate that.
I can’t say enough good things about John–he belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of pump salesmen. The way he helped train, mold, pass on knowledge to, and just befriend others was truly a blessing. John is one of those type of guys you want and need on your team. He always cared, had the customer’s needs at the forefront, was detailed, thorough, and was always willing to do whatever was best for the team. He instilled those types of values in all who worked with him. No matter how many times I asked him for help on a pump, or just advice about life he always took the time to teach me. I’m very thankful.
I spent most of my career working with John either during our time at Process Systems, or our time at here at Great Lakes Pump & Supply. John was the consummate professional, very detailed, always polite, and a pleasure to have worked with over our 30+ years of knowing each other. His knowledge and professionalism will be sorely missed in the workplace. For sure out team at Great Lakes Pump is a little less strong with him gone.
It’s plain from the sentiments above that John will be greatly missed. His fond coworkers gave him a proper sendoff in December, pictures from the celebration are below.