waterHQ conducted an interview with Warwick R. Lorenz, Managing Director at Aussie Pumps. The company, popularly known throughout Australia and South Pacific as Aussie Pumps, began trading in 1993 with a clear mission to provide first class water pumps and cleaning equipment to Australian and international consumers. Challenges presented by climate change and the succession of severe droughts generated a product development program designed to provide real solutions for Australia's harsh conditions. That program resulted in the introduction of the Aussie Fire Chief, now regarded as the world's finest lightweight portable fire pump. A range of efficient water transfer pumps followed along with the development of a comprehensive range of high pressure water blasting and cleaning equipment. Australian Pump products deliver better outcomes for users in terms of reliability, water efficiency, fuel efficiency and product longevity. Products are built better, to last longer.
waterHQ: How did Aussie Fire Chief revolutionize the pump industry?
Warwick R. Lorenz: When Aussie Fire Chief was originally conceived, it was based on experiences of fighting horrific bushfires in both the country and urban areas of Australia. Most Australians have experienced bushfires in some form. Farmers are the worst affected, where livestock, crop, machinery and even human lives can be lost. In urban bushfires, sometimes whole villages or even major city suburbs can be wiped out. That drove us to develop a product that was more capable than any other, more reliable, and with superior operating features!
waterHQ: What inspired you to start Aussie Pumps?
Lorenz: We saw a growing trend for products in the water pump business to be produced by large multi-national corporations. Those companies tend to grow by acquisition. Thus major decisions are based on return on funds to shareholders in the form of dividends, rather than thinking about the application of the products and the consumers that buy them. Our basic philosophy is to produce for customers what we would want if we were the consumers. In simple terms, it is “products that work, delivered by people who can be relied on to support what they sell”. We boil that down to our slogan, which is “RELIABLE PRODUCTS ……. RELIABLE PEOPLE”. We simply wanted to provide customers, whether they are farmers, construction companies or miners, with the best products in the world, at reasonable prices and with great aftermarket support.
waterHQ: What are the major factors that make you so confident in your company’s performance?
Lorenz: Australian Pump is a major success story. Starting out with virtually no business at all, we built a company which now trades all over the world and operates from a 2 ½ acre factory site in Sydney’s Norwest business district. The company is “tribal” in its approach, with all staff having both the right and the responsibility to provide comment, ideas, and positive suggestions on how the products and the business can serve our customers better. We have excellent staff retention based on the ethics of the business and a very discerning recruitment program. That gives us the confidence to tackle markets, not just in Australia, but globally. Our products include features and benefits to consumers that our competitors don’t design. Our new product development program works with consumer groups to develop the best products that provide safer, more efficient and cost effective outcomes for a wide range of products. Communicating these benefits to consumers is difficult as their products are technical and the details of the differentiation advantages can be complex. We solve that problem by simply giving longer warranties on our products than any of our competitors. For example, our big pressure cleaners and hydrostatic testers all come with a 4-year pump guarantee. Our self-priming centrifugal Aussie QP pumps come with a 5-year warranty. That 5-year warranty program started 14 years ago and astonished our competitors. Frankly, we expected them to follow us, but here we are, 14 years later, and we are still the only company offering that level of confidence to consumers, starting with day that the user takes delivery of the product.
waterHQ: Did export activity encourage or inspire any expansion in MENA region or new projects for a more competitive edge in global markets?
Lorenz: We realize that reinvesting in the business for its growth was essential. We all inhabit a “global village” these days, so to grow we need to be export orientated as well as geared to the domestic market. Fortunately, Australia has such a wide range of conditions, that we’re able to deal with the development of products that can be applied virtually anywhere in the world, no matter what extreme the circumstances. For example, we have pumps working in the Antarctic delivering diesel fuel, hydrostatic testers working in the extreme desert circumstances in the Middle East, portable fire pumps on patrol boats owned by many navies of the world, as well as in fishing boats, trawlers and work boats, plus many other great success stories. Our products are used in the Andes in copper mines, in New York City in the construction market, and even in Japan where our pressure cleaners are applied in the construction and agricultural markets. As our global presence grows and volumes go up, it allows us to get economies for scale that make us even more competitive. We never expect to produce products that are designed purely from the point of view of driving costs down. Our products are designed to perform, year in, year out, and are specified by mining companies, construction businesses and even for agricultural duties in countries in virtually every corner of the globe.
waterHQ: What element do you consider is key to the success of your products?
Lorenz: All of the above gives a clearer idea of why we are successful. It’s not about producing a low cost product. If we’re going to compete with third world country production pumps, we would never be competitive. On the contrary, we build through life cost reductions into our product from the beginning. That may mean more weight of material used and therefore more cost, but it can lead to substantially longer life and overall lower cost to the consumer. The real challenge is expressing that advantage to the consumer who is thinking about the cost today, rather than the cost over the next 5 or 10 years. It’s not uncommon to find products of ours that have been in continuous service for 18 years. Part of that is to do with the fact that we only use top quality brand, first world engines like Honda, Yanmar or Kubota! We only partner with engine suppliers who can support our products for their section of the equipment on an international basis. The company’s success is based on the consumers who we depend on to communicate with us on their requirements in terms of performance and reliability. Our greatest pleasure is to be able to provide the market with products that exceed the customers’ expectation! That’s our reward.