Since its origin, Ruhrpumpen has pushed the boundaries of innovation to develop advanced solutions for a wide range of pumping applications serving a vast number of markets. Pump Engineer was pleased to speak with Marcelo Elizondo, President of Global Sales and Marketing for Ruhrpumpen, about the company’s history, customer-driven attitude, extensive product offering, and its plans for the future.
By Angelica Pajkovic and James Kennedy
Officially founded in 1950, Ruhrpumpen (RP) began its operations in the empty halls of the former Annen Steel Factory in Witten, Germany. “After World War II ended, there was a great need to start repairing the vast amount of pumping equipment damaged during the war. There was also a high demand for spare parts, so, initially, manufacturing these parts was the company’s main objective,” explained Marcelo.
Many of the construction projects that arose as a result of the war rebuilding effort generated the need for new pumping equipment. Primary centrifugal and piston pumps were needed for the ship industry, while centrifugal pumps were required for pipelines and refineries. It was only natural that as time progressed Ruhrpumpen began to focus on manufacturing new pumps.
The company changed hands once or twice before the Elizondo Garza family acquired it in 1997 under the holding company Corporación EG; at that point Ruhrpumpen was a part of a huge structured conglomerate that no longer wanted to be in the pump industry. “We had been in the pump business since 1986, but at that time we were looking for new business opportunities,” continued Marcelo. “We wanted to enter new markets, and grow, so when this opportunity presented itself to us, we decided to take it. That is when we decided to make an offer to acquire the company. The Ruhrpumpen acquisition marked our incursion into a more complex market of equipment for the oil refining and petrochemical industries.”
With the purchase of RP, the Elizondo Garza family became the first-ever Mexican entrepreneurs to invest in a German industrial company. “It was a risk we decided to take. We were a moderate-size Mexican company with no experience in international markets or in the oil and gas industry,” Marcelo shared. “We had to earn everyone’s trust. Today we can confirm that the decision we made, brought our company to a very different and greater level of expertise and competency in serving the global pumping equipment market.”
Since 1997, Ruhrpumpen has grown more than 15-fold. Sales offices reside in more than 40 countries, and over 2,500 people are employed in the 10 manufacturing plants located around the world; Mexico, Germany, United States, Brazil, Argentina, India, UK, Egypt, Russia, and China.
“We have gone from a regional pump manufacturer to a global pump technology company. We come from many different cultures and speak many different languages, but one thing remains a constant regardless of how much we grow and change. We are still, and always will be, a family business at heart,” added Marcelo. “It is precisely this characteristic that sets Ruhrpumpen apart from other companies. The difference between us and our competition is that we make decisions in days, while they take months. Our flexibility and the speed in which we work, are truly the distinguishing factors.”
Diversifying the Portfolio
Although Ruhrpumpen’s sales are still largely dependent on the oil and gas market, the company has made significant efforts in recent years to diversify into markets such as power generation, water distribution, mining, and industrial.
“The power generation market, specifically, is very attractive to us,” explained Marcelo. “It is something we have been working on carefully for many years. Since the early 2000’s we have expanded our product offering for this industry and now have a dynamic line of boiler feed condensate pumps and water circulation pumps. This provides Ruhrpumpen with a complete product offering to serve all of the pumping needs of this industry.”
In recent years the company has also made significant efforts to further develop its industrial product range through smart investments in new manufacturing facilities designed exclusively to develop industrial pump lines. Having a product portfolio that focuses on less complex industry pumping has allowed Ruhrpumpen to more quickly and easily penetrate many new markets. Rather than limiting itself to a new market that focuses exclusively on highly engineered pumping solutions, which not every market requires, RP can offer a wide verity of services. “Things are no longer the way they used to be,” stated Marcelo. “In the new business world, the fastest fish eats the rest. And we strive to get faster every day!”
Becoming the Supplier of Choice
Continuously striving to become the supplier of choice for its customers has always been a priority for Ruhrpumpen. Being the largest, or most important pump manufacturer in the world is not something the company see’s value in. Gaining the customer’s trust and become their first choice for pumps, on a worldwide basis, is the constant goal.
“We continually work to strengthen our current operations structure, our manufacturing processes, and our quality assurances; there are always ways to improve and become better at what we do,” stated Marcelo. “Everyone in the company, from each department, works towards ensuring that every customer receives the highest quality products and services. Satisfaction with the status quo is never acceptable.”
Ruhrpumpen prides itself on its dedication to studying the economic/political/societal/regulatory/technological trends that help it to best serve its customers. “Most importantly, we will never walk away from a problem,” stated Marcelo. “When working with project-specific engineered equipment in high profile projects, things can go wrong. When this happens we quickly fix it… we make things right… always.”
Reflections on a Difficult Year
Without a doubt, 2020 was one of the most challenging and strange years of the world’s recent history. The COVID-19 situation has had, and still has, a great impact on the daily work of millions of people, and many industries are still struggling to recover from the crisis the pandemic left behind.
Amid strong market headwinds and the global recession, Ruhrpumpen once again proved to be resilient. Thanks to its rapid response commitment and international production network, delivery obligations were met and orders were filled. Operating under the strictest safety regulations to protect lives, Ruhrpumpen was able to mitigate, to a large extent, the impact of the pandemic on its business.
“As the first wave of the pandemic struck during the early months of 2020, our first priority was to take quick and decisive action to ensure the safety of our employees. In addition, we also had a responsibility to help ensure that essential services could keep running. With stringent health and safety measures in place, our people worked through the lockdowns to maintain vital services in hospitals, power, water distribution, etc. All of these actions contribute to the ongoing recovery of our communities,” stated Marcelo.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, Ruhrpumpen was able to achieve a number of milestones in the last two years. Some of its proudest recent achievements are listed below.
- To better serve and greatly expand its presence in the global civil nuclear power industry, Ruhrpumpen partnered with Hayward Tyler (a global leader in performance-critical pumps and motors for the energy section). Hayward Tyler will exclusively manufacture, sell, and supply safety-related products (pumps, parts and service) designed by Ruhrpumpen.
- During the pandemic many companies shifted to interacting with their customers virtually. Ruhrpumpen realized its customers were missing not only the in-person interaction to grow businesses together, but also the ability to take advantage of the learning opportunities that manufacturers provide. RP has since launched a series of ‘short courses’ that run twice a month. These courses are open to everyone and do not focus on Ruhrpumpen’s ability as a manufacturer. Instead they focus on educating participants on the common topics/issues customers see globally when it comes to pumping equipment. To ensure that a comprehensive course is delivered, a seasoned senior pump expert conducts the dynamic and informative interactive online sessions. Recordings of these sessions are also available online for future reference in a virtual library.
These short courses are the foundation for what is now the ‘Ruhrpumpen University’. Ruhrpumpen strives to ever expand virtual learning opportunities for everyone (both external and internal). The overwhelming positive global response to these short courses made it an obvious choice for Ruhrpumpen to continue offering them indefinitely!
Outlook for 2021
Throughout 2021, Ruhrpumpen has been experiencing a progressive return to pre-pandemic levels of growth. Although the storm is not over yet and the world is still in the midst of a global health crisis, with far-reaching consequences for everyone, the company has good reason to believe that it is in good shape to continue to weather it.
“Over the past 15 months, we have worked closely as a team to change, adapt, and execute quickly. We have seen many encouraging stories of support during this time, and we extend our heartfelt thanks to our employees for their commitment and excellent performance. Thanks also to customers and partners, who share our vision and values, and who continue to support us in turbulent times. We are, as always, here to support them in every way,” concluded Marcelo.