Podcast | December 15, 2011

Smith & Loveless Preaches Quality In Manufacturing

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Frank Rebori, president of Smith & Loveless, sat down with Water Online Radio for this live interview from the show floor at WEFTEC 2011 in Los Angeles. Rebori discussed the company's 65-year history, its current successes, and the main products it sells: wastewater pumping and treatment equipment, as well as headworks (grit removal) equipment. Listen or read on to learn more.

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Todd Schnick: We’re back, broadcasting live from the Los Angeles Convention Center and the tradeshow floor of WEFTEC. I am Todd Schnick, joined by my co-host, Todd Youngblood. Todd, I continue to have a great time today. What do you think?

Todd Youngblood: Oh man, I think it’s great too, and the crowd just keeps building and building. I mean, it was filled up an hour and a half ago and there’s not going to be anything but standing room pretty soon.

Todd Schnick: Just wait till day two. This place is going to be nuts in day two.

Todd Youngblood: Very cool.

Todd Schnick: All right. Well, continuing with our second hour, we are excited to welcome the president of Smith & Loveless. Welcome to Water Online Radio, Frank Rebori.

Frank Rebori: Thank you, glad to be here.

Todd Schnick: It’s good to have you. Thanks for joining us on Water Online Radio. Before we get into our conversation, take a few minutes and tell us a little bit about yourself and about Smith & Loveless.

Frank Rebori: Sure, without a doubt. I am president of Smith & Loveless. Smith & Loveless is a manufacturing company in the water and wastewater field. We’ve been around for 65 years.

We have basically three divisions, or marketplaces, we sell our products to: transfer — pumping stations; treatment, of course — packaged wastewater treatment plants; and headworks — grit removal. Those are our three lines, and we’re industry leaders in all three.

Todd Schnick: Do me favor, Frank, if you don’t mind, go into a little bit more depth on those three, those three product segments. We want to hear more about the three. We have some time to get a little more detail.

Frank Rebori: Sure, without a doubt. As I said, Smith & Loveless was founded about 1960 — 65 years ago — with the main thought process of packaging, and that’s been our mainstay. And it’s interesting because packaging over the last 2, 3, 4, 5 years seems to be a new concept with lot of the manufacturers in industry, but Smith & Loveless has been doing that since the get-go, and the first thing we started off doing was packaged pump stations and below-grade and above-grade lift stations.

Our pump stations are solids-handling sewage pumps, and the best in the industry, from our point of view, at least...and a lot of our customers’ point of view. What they’re known for is robustness and – especially in this economy where end-users are really starting to question how much money they’re spending, you know, everything from pumping and treatment — our products really speak to that. So we make a great line of solids-handling sewage pump stations, both above-grade and below-grade.

Our second line of business is the grit-handling side of our business, and we manufacture the PISTA product, which is the industry leader in grit handling. That’s a fantastic method with high removal efficiencies, known throughout the world, really. It’s not just North America; we sell that throughout the world.

And our third area, of course, is treatment. We make both aerobic treatment, anaerobic treatment, and fixed film as well as membranes. And that’s, again, all towards the packaged concept, both factory-built and field-directed.

Todd Youngblood: Frank, when I hear a company that’s been around for 65 years, that tells me something. What’s the secret to that longevity?

Frank Rebori: Well, it starts out with the people, that’s for sure. Smith & Loveless, it’s a little bit unique in our industry because a lot of, you know, a lot of companies have people who come and go.

We’re quite the contrary. We have people that have been with our company for, believe it or not, almost 40 years. And so longevity speaks to that. And anybody we bring into the company, we look to a long-term future with, and I’m proud to say that all of our new people — and we do have a lot of new people too; that is, we’re going through a lot of change, as a lot of the companies are — but longevity and people, that’s the main thing. Our people start, of course, at the factory, and then it spreads out to our reps and distributors, and from there it’s the consultants and users.

And Smith & Loveless has always been known as a premium product, and with a premium product, you really have to make sure relationships and, you know...being there, quite frankly. That’s what we’re known for, and that’s why we’ve been around for 65-plus years.

Todd Youngblood: Well, kudos you for having that kind of a corporate culture, because I know from a customer standpoint that’s really important, that consistency and continuity over time. So I applaud you for that. Is that something that your customers expect from you, look to you to get?

Frank Rebori: I think so. That’s a mantra from myself on down. And I always say to everybody in our R&D department and our manufacturing department and sales department that quality is never going to be good enough, and I personally believe that.

And why we have that mantra at Smith & Loveless is because even though we think it’s the best product it can be today, it can always be better, and it’ll never be perfect. And we want to strive for that because as long as we have a desire to improve our products, which we have — we’re coming out with a lot of new and exciting products that you can see at our booth at 2225. I’ll throw that little plug out there. But that’s the main thing, to always improve. And that’s my personal philosophy: to always hit a moving target as to being better. That’s the mindset we’re trying to bring with our company.

Todd Schnick: I understand that you are a market leader with headworks. I’m quite sure that Youngblood has no idea what that is. Please share with the audience a little bit more about that.

Frank Rebori: Sure, sure. Well, with any wastewater treatment plant, the primary thing you want to do is remove the large screenings and things like that. And so a lot of bar screens come into play there. And then, as the solids get smaller and smaller, you get to grit. And at the grit handling side, that’s where Smith & Loveless comes into play, and we are branching out into screens.

But, really on the grit side, that’s where we jump in and we remove the grit from the wastewater screen. And, of course, why do you want to remove the grit from the wastewater screen? Because that way it doesn’t hurt any downstream pumps or processes or clarification, things like that. So that’s what we do and we do it very, very well.

Todd Schnick: We understand that you are exhibiting here at WEFTEC. What are your goals at the event? Is it about lead generation? Are you launching new products? Is it about market education, identifying new partners? What are your goals here at WEFTEC?

Frank Rebori: Well, all of the above, of course, but it really gets back to our cornerstone philosophy about people. And so our representatives are here; we had a nice cocktail reception for them with some key customers last night. Todd Schnick: We weren’t invited.

Frank Rebori: That’s an oversight. I gotta talk to Darby about that.

Todd Youngblood: Make sure, I wrote that down for you.

Frank Rebori: It’s not a party without the two Todds.

Todd Schnick: That’s right.

Frank Rebori: But, really it’s about making contact. Even if that’s one person to a hundred people, it all gets down to a good personal relationship.

Todd Youngblood: Frank, I understand you’re on the board of WWEMA. How on Earth does the leader of a company like yours find the time, and what’s the value in it for you for serving there?

Frank Rebori: Sure, without a doubt. Well, WWEMA is the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association, and Smith & Loveless actually has a long association with WWEMA.

Our past presidents of Smith & Loveless, in fact, have been past presidents of WWEMA. And our association with WWEMA brings us, again, a lot of innovative thinking, a lot of innovative products. Most of the manufacturers who are industry leaders, in fact, are members of WWEMA — really all of the key outward-thinking manufacturers. And so we’re known for, just like Smith & Loveless, a lot of our members are known for quality and innovation. And so we bring those ideas and share those ideas. From Smith & Loveless’ perspective, again, we challenge our fellow WWEMA members to go above and beyond.

Todd Schnick: Frank, we’re out of time. Before we let you go, share with the audience again how they can get in touch with your organization, learn more about your work, and where they can find the booth again.

Frank Rebori: Sure, without a doubt. We are here at the show, of course, at booth 2225, Smith & Loveless. Look for the large, overhanging banner.

And, of course, our website: www.smithandloveless.com. Without a doubt, there is tons of information there. By all means look for our local reps or any salesperson — we’re represented in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, around the world, China, India. You’ll find us and we’re there.

Todd Schnick: Outstanding. It was a pleasuring having you, Frank. Thanks for joining us.

Frank Rebori: Thank you for having me.

Todd Youngblood: Thanks, Frank.

Todd Schnick: All right, that wraps the segment. On behalf of Todd Youngblood, I’m Todd Schnick. Water Online Radio will be right back.