Podcast | November 18, 2013

How One Company Delivers Piping Hot Results

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Brian LaBelle, Director of Business Development for Georg Fischer Piping Systems, discusses building customer loyalty through an emphasis on product quality and systems integration.

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The following is an excerpt from a Q&A with Water Online Radio. Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.

Water Online Radio: Give us a 10,000-foot view of Georg Fischer Piping Systems. What do you do and how do you serve your market?

Brian: GF Piping Systems has pipe fittings and valves in many different sizes and materials. We offer sensors and instruments that do things from flow PH, ORP, conductivity, pressure, temperature, and level to free chlorine, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen.

Water Online Radio: What's new from GF Piping Systems?

Brian: My mind goes immediately to the integration of some of our latest acquisitions. I continue to be impressed with how Georg Fischer is integrating the acquisitions of companies like Central Plastics (now Georg Fischer Central Plastics) out of Shawnee, OK, Independent Pipe Products out of Dallas, TX, and Connectra, which actually was a former acquisition by Central Plastics, prior to GF picking them up.

The reason I mention that is because the emphasis in the future will be on systems. When it comes to systems, what GF Piping Systems means is pipe and fittings and the means to join them together, whether it's a solvent cement or a mechanical joint or heat fusion.

GF Central Plastics now is doing a fantastic job. They started out as a huge fittings company. We've got over 10,000 different electro fusion type fittings and polyethylene, and now pipe, all the way through 65 inches in diameter, and high quality means and techniques for putting the pipe and the fittings together. It’s a true system.

We're going to see more of that. The integration of GF Central Plastics and Harvell, on the vinyl side, PVC, CPVC pipe, a fantastic addition to the industrial portfolio, and the successful integration of that company into the Georg Fischer family are important.

On the product side, we've got a nice, new optical dissolved oxygen sensor and a very convenient mounting mechanism. You can mount it to a rail and float the sensor with a float down into your aeration base.

There's a variety of installation configurations that we offer as a complete system for measuring dissolved oxygen in that important application. There’s also many other things such as free chlorine sensors, insertion mags, and an ever broadening array of pH and ORP sensors.

Water Online Radio: How would you explain the company values at Georg Fischer?

Brian: We put customers first, we act fast, we do what we say, we reward performance and we respect people. There are principles of simplicity, reliability, and economy. We build those things into the products and the way we conduct business with our customers. Every single employee knows the values of the company. We actually embrace it and we hold one another accountable. It's empowering.

Water Online Radio:  I've heard you talk about the law of expectations. What do you mean by that?

Brian: I think there's a gimmick notion out there that you really need to exceed your customer's expectations. If you exceed your customer's expectations, they'll have a delightful experience in doing business with you, but in the long run, that will fail, and it is a diversion of where I think your attention really ought to be. If you dedicate your attention and energy toward always exceeding that customer's expectation, you're going to be trying to focus on things that are maybe not core to the business, and at some point, you're maybe not going to be able to deliver on that exceeding expectation. But if you stay focused on what you do and the customer's immediate need, that you can legitimately address that consistently, time and time again. That will build loyalty, and that meeting of expectations on a continual basis will delight the customer and exceed their expectations, just based on their experience with other suppliers.

Water Online Radio: What's next for GF in terms of innovation and new technologies?

Brian: We will surely continue to see development on the instrumentation platform. We've got a beautiful single channel, multi-parameter controller out there that is the most versatile thing on the market in terms of how you connect a flow sensor to it, and it is a flow transmitter. You connect a pH sensor, a conductivity sensor, a temperature, a pressure or a level, and it becomes that thing.

We use a chameleon to convey just how versatile this piece of equipment is, this Model 9900 single channel, multi-parameter SmartPro transmitter from GF Signet. This is something that has proven to be very successful in the market, and we will continue to innovate on that platform. We can do this by adding channels and parameters, and building additional functionality into the platform to make it even more useful. It'll be a tiered approach. If you want this additional functionality, these additional channels, then you'll buy this instrument. If you want the basic functionality of the adaptable 9900 as it is, then of course that will continue to remain.

On the automation side of our business, product development will continue to accelerate and Georg Fischer will have an increasing emphasis on systems. I talked about it earlier-about pipe and fittings and the means to join those two things together as a basic piping system. From an automations standpoint, you'll see our actuated valve portfolio and our sensor and instrumentation portfolio come together in ways that haven’t been seen before for application-specific functions in the marketplace. I think the emphasis will be on systems in the future...

Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.