News / Product Releases
Grundfos Centralizes North American Municipal Waste Water Business Near Chicago
World’s largest pump producer enhances its national manufacturing presence in Illinois, launching new “competency center” focused solely on waste water market.
AURORA, ILLINOIS (April 24, 2012) — Grundfos today celebrated the official launch of a new business-development “competency center,” serving all of North America and devoted exclusively to the municipal waste water market. Located approximately 40 miles west of Chicago, the center is housed in the 105,000-square-foot, pump-manufacturing facility of the former Yeomans Chicago Corporation (YCC), which Grundfos acquired in December 2008.
Since that acquisition, the global pump manufacturer has invested several million dollars in new equipment and systems to upgrade the Aurora facility and ready the operation to begin production of Grundfos-brand waste water pump systems, previously made by the company in Europe and Asia. The first such product, the Grundfos S-Line of energy-efficient waste water pumps, commenced production in Aurora in February of this year.
One of numerous such “competency centers” operated by Grundfos worldwide, the North American Water Utility Center brings together a fully integrated team of professional experts in the municipal waste water industry. Their specialized skills include engineering, manufacturing, product sales and service, distribution, regulatory issues and equipment testing. The Aurora facility currently employs 93 full-time personnel, including 31 machinists working two shifts five days per week.
Nearly 100 guests joined Grundfos personnel for a ribbon-cutting ceremony inaugurating the new Water Utility Center, led by Denmark’s Minister for Trade and Investment, Pia Olsen Dyhr and Dan Seals, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Speaking at today’s ceremony, Grundfos North America CEO and president Jes Munk Hansen said: “This center is pivotal to Grundfos becoming a leader in the North American municipal waste water business. We have big ambitions for the next five years, as we strive to double—if not triple—our sales in that key segment, with commensurate growth in our product offering.”
Grundfos has invested more than $50 million in municipal water-related activities in the United States during the past few years, including acquisitions, increased production and infrastructure, information systems, product launches and the hiring of key people. Over the next half-decade, the company expects to invest an equal amount in its North American operations. “These investments are part of a global strategy that aim to capture 10 percent of the worldwide municipal market and generate roughly $1.3 billion in export sales,” according to Hansen.
Minister Dyhr praised Grundfos as an example of a Danish company successfully meeting the global mandate to counter climate change by reducing water and energy consumption.
“One of the most pressing challenges facing the world today and over the next decades will be identifying and implementing technologies that mitigate climate change through the conservation of water and energy,” said Dyhr, noting that Grundfos has gained a global competitive advantage by embracing Denmark’s energy-efficient and resource-conservation public policies. “Just as clean technology is now the fastest growing part of Danish exports, we are positioning ourselves to also lead in water and climate solutions.”
“Electrical consumption represents a large operational cost for municipalities and public utilities,” explained Hansen, who noted that America is about 10 or 15 years behind its European and Asian counterparts with regard to integrating this type of energy efficiency into its waste water operations. “Because energy represents upwards of 85 percent of a pump’s lifecycle cost, switching to high-efficiency motor technology can cut operational costs in half, with a corresponding reduction in power plant emissions.”
Note: Water-related electricity use accounted for approximately 13 percent of the United States’ total electricity consumption in 2008, emitting the equivalent of 62 coal-fired power plants.1
Warrington noted that the Chicago location was important to Grundfos both for its ample engineering labor force and centralized geographic location.
“Our new Midwest presence is an ideal marriage of expert product knowledge and advanced technology, located near a major international transportation hub that allows us to work with North American consulting engineers as they pursue projects worldwide,” said Warrington, who also noted that Aurora has furnished waste water projects as far away as Egypt and Russia.
“The Midwest is also a good place to live,” adds Hansen, noting that its culture and the prevalence of “highly loyal, reliable employees” reminds him very much of Scandinavia. “As a result, we expect to be able to attract additional engineering talent to Aurora—professionals who readily understand our mission of energy and water efficiency.”
“In the short run, water is a tough market because the mayors and the city councils simply lack the funds to invest in new plant and equipment,” he comments. “Plus, the impact of that delay in spending is not evident until there is a local water crisis. But that growing funding gap will soon become an enormous and highly visible issue in this country, especially with the advanced age of the equipment in many parts of the nation, particularly the Northeast.”
As Hansen also notes, not only is much of this older equipment at risk to breaking down soon, but in the meantime it is increasingly expensive to operate because of the relentlessly rising cost of energy. In time, the economic argument for replacing aging, inefficient infrastructure will only grow stronger.
“That is why our focus at Grundfos is on developing more energy-efficient pumping products, and why we look at the market in terms of the next two decades, instead of the next two quarters,” says Hansen. “As a privately held organization, we can afford to have a long-term perspective with regard to our investments and business strategy. Our dedication to the municipal water market in North America is a long-term strategy.”
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1 Bevan Griffiths-Sattenspiel and Wendy Wilson, “The Carbon Footprint of Water”, River Network, May, 2009 http://www.rivernetwork.org/sites/default/files/The Carbon Footprint of Water-River Network-2009.pdf
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Photo credits: Tori Soper
Photos by Tori Soper