Ruhrpumpen: A Family-Owned Company with a Wealth of Experience
Ruhrpumpen has a long history in the pump industry. As the company approaches its 70th anniversary, it is more focused than ever on its quality standards, reliability, efficiency, and ability to provide custom solutions to its global customers.
By Brittani Schroeder and Angelica Pajkovic
A Ruhrpumpen History
Ruhrpumpen opened its doors in Witten, Germany, following the end of the Second World War. In 1950, the company took over the former Annen steel factory and began its operations. “It started as a service and pump repair facility,” said Cesar. “The objective was to repair and service all of the pumps that were damaged during the war. After some time however, the company started manufacturing pumps as well, and that soon became its focus. It obtained a license to manufacture API pumps from Pacific Pumps.”
The company changed hands once or twice before the Elizondo Garza family acquired it in 1997 under the holding company Corporación EG. “We had been in the business of making pumps since 1986, and were very excited to take on this new opportunity. We put in a bid on Ruhrpumpen and soon it was ours,” relayed Cesar. With the purchase of Ruhrpumpen, the Elizondo Garza family became the first Mexican entrepreneurs to invest in a German industrial company. “We started with 120 employees, and in the first year we made over USD $15 million in sales.”
Over the last 23 years the company has grown from 120 employees to over 2,500. “We have owned the company for roughly 1/3 of its full history and I would like to think that those years have been its most exciting,” Cesar mentioned. “Today we have manufacturing facilities in 10 countries.”
Although there have been a number of memorable moments throughout the company’s history, one of its most significant milestones occurred in the first year of ownership. “In 1997, the company landed a USD $14 million contract to manufacture 20+ pumps for the great man-made river project in Libya,” stated Cesar. “The sheer size and scope of the project kick started the work at our manufacturing facility and got us off on the right foot,” he continued.
Three years later, the Elizondo Garza family gave the green light to one of their engineering managers to start a decoking business unit. This decision ultimately set Ruhrpumpen on its path to achieve its second significant milestone. “In 2000, a prominent company placed an order with us for a decoking system for the Hamaca Venezuela project; this helped us achieve a greater global scope,” explained Cesar.
“In 2000, the family also acquired the Flowserve (Byron Jackson) Tulsa Factory, that included eight product lines for the oil and gas and power market, which gave Ruhrpumpen the opportunity to fully participate in the US market — the biggest pump market in the world.”
In 2007, the company also launched a fire pumps business unit, to meet the needs of its expanding clientele.
“Over the last two decades we have been very lucky to be able to secure such high profile projects. A more recent project in 2013, a contract in the Middle East which involved 14 20-megawatt oil pumps, has had a huge impact on our company. I cannot commend our team enough for all their hard work acquiring and completing these projects,” he related.
The Principle Values
Ruhrpumpen’s executives and employees are driven by five core values. “Our values are simple,” explained Cesar, “but we strive to instill them in everything we do. Our people are the most important asset. We want to be a local company, a process-oriented company, and a customer-focused company. We are a global team, who believe that the team is more important than an individual.”
In order to ensure that each customer receives the highest quality products and services, Ruhrpumpen focuses on implementing the same processes and standards in each of its facilities. “We strive to employ the same processes, from design and purchasing to manufacturing and testing, in each facility,” explained Cesar. “To achieve this, governance teams from each plant develop and implement ways to improve, document, train and deploy the same process in every facility. These groups are formed by the best and most talented personnel in every process around the globe. This best describes our Ruhrpumpen Way philosophy and ensures that the most efficient and effective methods are used.”
“If someone has an idea on how to improve a process, they will send their proposal to the governance team to be discussed, and if it makes sense it will be implemented.”
Although Ruhrpumpen’s main industry is oil and gas, the company has a wide range of high-quality products for a variety of applications. “Ruhrpumpen has as a strategy to increase our presence in power generation, mining, water transportation industries, and also the manufacturing of industrial pumps,” stated Cesar.
The company began to increase its product portfolio for the power generation industry in the 2000s and now have a dynamic line of boiler feed condensate pumps and water circulation pumps to have a competitive product offering. “The availability of these products showcases our drive to become a competitive supplier in the power industry and brings us closer to our goal of broadening our product offerings and appealing to a wider client base,” said Cesar.
For the industrial industry, Ruhrpumpen has set up new plants designed to focus solely on industrial pumps. “We started working on general industrial pumps very early on and have established a reputation for designing and manufacturing quality industrial pumps,” Cesar explained.
Ruhrpumpen has also taken steps to enter another new market: manufacturing of API plunger pumps. “In 2015, we decided to set up a manufacturing system for API plunger pumps in the UK—a dedicated facility to focus on this product line. We are excited to move into the market with these,” said Cesar.
Working with 3D Printing Technology
Along with new industries and markets, the company is embracing new technologies. Since its foundation, one of the main characteristics that has set Ruhrpumpen apart from other manufacturers was its insistence that it will always have the latest state-of-the-art manufacturing technology available. To that end, Ruhrpumpen incorporated 3D printing technology into its casting processes approximately seven years ago. “Before this technology, we would use the standard wood or aluminum patterns to produce the pump components. By creating a 3D print, we are able to manufacture more closely to our design, which allows us to design impellers for the specific service it is intended for. Instead of selecting impeller A, B, or C, we can offer A.3 or B.2. Now more than ever, we can offer the best pump possible to our customers and guarantee that the geometry is going to be perfect.”
After Service Care & Emerging Trends
To Cesar and his team, Ruhrpumpen stands for flexibility, commitment, open doors, reliability and effectiveness. “The company has been in business for 70 years; we have a well-established strategy for moving forward and we really know what we are doing. If a customer orders a pump from us, it is likely that the pump is going to be operating for 40, 50, or 60 years – depending on the refinery it is in,” Cesar said. “We want to have satisfied customers with a long term strategic relationship; it’s not in Ruhrpumpen interest just to sell a pump; we have to be a valued partner for our customers, a good close presence with aftermarket services is also key, as well as long term support.”
Based on its continuous improvement culture, quality is also a primary focus for Ruhrpumpen. “We are on the Approved Vendors List of most of the major EPC and oil companies. 100% of our pump systems are factory tested regardless if it’s a contractual requirement or not, we serve very critical services, and the reliability of our pumps is of the most importance,” explained Cesar. “Our units pump hydrocarbons at high pressures and high temperatures. If anything fails with the pump, it may stop the whole re¬finery, or worst, could lead to a fire or explosion. That is the reason quality cannot even be a question; the product has to be right going out of our doors.”