Grundfos looks to pump up education about water, energy efficiency
As Grundfos Pumps Corp. prepared to relocate its corporate headquarters from Kansas City, Kan., to the Chicago area, company executives toured more than a dozen business suites with the latest in design, lighting, and Internet technology. Company executives wanted a more in-depth look at their new home.
“We wanted to see the machine room,” said Soren Sorensen, group executive vice president for Grundfos. “They thought we were kidding. But we went to the basement, and we saw all of these old-fashioned pumps, and we saw a great opportunity.”
Grundfos expects to double its U.S. sales by 2017 to $1 billion. To do that, the company hopes to convince building owners, manufacturers, and consulting engineers that the time is right to retrofit existing pump systems to deliver energy and operational efficiency.
“There’s not going to be a lot of new building, but we see good potential in energy renovation,” said Sorensen. “If you make an evaluation over the lifetime of the product, we can show savings. We need to educate people, especially on the water infrastructure. We need to educate on how to treat wastewater and stormwater.
“We need to have strong cooperation between the public and private sector,” Sorensen added. “They need to understand the value of such infrastructure investments. If infrastructure investments are paying off, even bankers will see them as good investments.”
Part of that, said Sorensen, is changing the way building owners and operators, and local governments, view the issue of retrofitting pump systems. “They should see it as a benefit rather than a cost,” he said. “Cost savings and reduction in usage can be capitalized. If you can show that you can save 20% in energy costs, all you need is financing.”
Grundfos executives announced the opening of their new corporate headquarters in the Chicago area, and one of the drivers behind the location was the support for water and wastewater management from state government. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was on hand at the announcement of the new headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, and praised company officials for their efforts on energy management.
“We’ve got to have 21st century technology,” Quinn told about 100 local business and municipal leaders and company officials at the April 16 dedication. “I think the reason Grundfos had interest in Illinois was because we do have a commitment to the environment. We are going to be a water hub for the nation.”
“Chicago is a global thought leader on water,” said Grundfos president Jes Munk Hansen. “This office will not only be a regional center, but a competency center.”
Sorensen said the issue of water and pump efficiency in the U.S. is gaining attention. “The American market is still the largest pump market in the world,” Sorensen said. “It’s a $7 billion market. Being a global company, we’re not allowed to overlook a market of that size. But it’s not only the size that matters. We think it is even more attractive in the future. We feel we will be able to sell up to the market and bring in the newest technologies.”
The global markets, especially in northern Europe and Russia, also hold promise. “In normalized Europe, there is a transformation away from nuclear to renewable and energy efficiency. We’re seeing about 4% to 5% growth in Europe.
“In Russia, the market is booming,” he added. “There is great wealth from natural gas, but they also want to save energy so that they have more to export. Here the water agenda is also important. Their water canals need to be upgraded.”
Grundfos sees its role as consultant as well as supplier as the company plans to grow. “We see the glass as half-full,” Sorensen said. “We’ve been listening to our customers about what needs to be done. We want to keep strengthening the education about the value of upgrading through the value chain, from the manufacturing level to the install level.”