ProMinent position: how the company’s transformation focus is driving enhanced effectiveness and efficiency 

Since its inception in 1960, the ProMinent Group (ProMinent) has grown into a global manufacturer, delivering solutions for water treatment through metering, disinfection, measuring and control, as well as digital fluid management. Headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, it employs more than 2800 staff across the world, with 11 production sites serving customers in approximately 100 countries. 

Nick Dorsch, Managing Director at ProMinent Fluid Controls, Inc
Nick Dorsch, Managing Director at ProMinent Fluid Controls, Inc

Discussing US operations is Nick Dorsch, Managing Director at ProMinent Fluid Controls, Inc. based in Pennsylvania. Nick’s location is the second largest ProMinent subsidiary outside of Germany, with significant capacity and reach. “We manufacture more than 40,000 pumps a year, as well as engineer, design, and manufacture chemical feed skids, and related equipment. We do a lot of pre-engineered solutions, but we also work on custom applications, and design skids specifically for clients’ needs,” he begins. 

“Our difference is that we not only manufacture the pumps, but we design, engineer, and build the skids in-house as well. We fully factory test the skids, the products, which includes our own technology, along with controllers and analyzers programmed specifically for applications.” Nick’s operation also works closely with ProMinent Canada, gaining synergies between the locations for products and services offered across North America. 

Clearly a significant contributor to the overall success of the group, what really makes the Pittsburgh operation stand out is its journey of transformation over the past four years. Nick joined the business in 2020, and he admits at the time it was facing some challenges particularly around on-time delivery of skid systems, including managing through Covid. 

Drawing on his background in operations and lean manufacturing, Nick dove in to identify the issues. Getting staff onboard was a pivotal part of the project’s success. “I needed unfiltered information. 

“So, with the support from the Sr. Director of HR in Pittsburgh, we created 23 different groups, and had discussions with each one in a safe environment, where, importantly, there were no repercussions to what was said. I am a visual person, so we printed out all the feedback and stuck it on the walls in both buildings for all to see – it was about seven-feet long! As we solved one issue, we added another, and we made someone an owner to report on the status. Over a period of around six months many of the frustrations and rumblings disappeared. People felt empowered to speak up and be heard with confidence that we’d find a solution. 

Enhanced efficiency 

“To give them more purpose and to see a future with the company, we then got staff from multiple levels of the business to create the company vision and values. The values on our website are exactly as presented to us by the employees. 

“Finally, we looked at career progression and succession planning, as we want our staff to know they have a future with the company. We analyzed where there are gaps, what training is needed, and who could be developed to address that space. This creates a sustainable, stable business – staff feel that they belong and know where they are going. When you start changing the culture and giving people purpose, it’s easier to recruit new, good staff. Some people who’ve left even came back! 

“Our people are our best asset and our success is due to their dedication, hard work and desire to drive improvements. This, along with a leadership team that does a phenomenal job fully focusing on our employees and customers, is what keeps us driving the momentum forward. 

“The staff did a phenomenal job overall,” he states, proudly. “We are handling challenges much faster, which is driving up on-time performance, as well as margin and customer satisfaction. Our people are our best asset and our success is due to their dedication, hard work and desire to drive improvements.” 

It is worth highlighting that during this three-year growth period, ProMinent didn’t add any people. “It was really fixing the processes that were in place, building operational efficiencies and being able to execute the jobs that were coming in as we were growing,” Nick clarifies. 

Another remarkable aspect of this period is that while dealing with the additional challenges wrought by Covid, ProMinent managed to keep its pump manufacturing output consistent. Thanks to a combination of foresight and global intel from its overseas operations, the business began having weekly discussions with all its top suppliers in April 2020.  

“As a result, for the most part, our pumps remained at a one-to-two-week lead time throughout Covid whereas a lot of our competitors were up to 100 days! That enabled us to capture some good market share and growth. From 2020 to the end of 2023, having grown our people’s skills, and worked on increasing our efficiency and effectiveness, we nearly doubled the bookings in our business.”

Quality and delivery 

Nick and his team continue with regular supplier meetings, now every two weeks, to maintain ProMinent’s excellent delivery schedules, as well as continue to monitor areas such as quality, price, and on-time performance. “We manage our supply chain tightly and value working with the right partners. If someone stumbles, we investigate the root cause. We must understand what is driving their issues, as we might be able to help fix them. 

“That’s being a strategic partner, not just a customer, and we extend that approach to our own customers as well. We want to know how to become a strategic supplier and help them meet their goals and objectives.” 

Another central part of this growth journey has been creating a strategic plan and sticking to it. “We stay consistent and build upon the plan. We’re now looking at the next three years, while reviewing the last three – did we do what we said we would? Did the market or technology change? Is that still a good initiative or shall we not waste time on it? We have business analysts diving into market trends, looking at what competitors are doing and customer needs– all this helps drive us forward. 

“Our strength is we don’t wildly change our strategic plans year on year. They are directionally sound. While we may need to adapt along the way, and will look at opportunities as they arise, we make quick decisions and either act or move on. That flexibility and speed is what makes a difference to our success.” 

Nick keeps the team heavily involved in this planning process, which he admits took some initial encouragement. “I explained the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. We will work on it and improve as we go. Now the individual teams ask to build their part of the strategic plan and bring it to me! That’s how I knew we were on the right path and that’s what is going to enable this company to continue to grow.” 

It can be demonstrated that the new approach has directly contributed to new business, as Nick reveals: “We quoted a job with an engineering company on a US computer chip manufacturing facility, but we lost out on price. However, our Regional Sales Manager continuously followed up with the engineering company, and after some time the cheaper supplier had gone way off on delivery times. The client asked if we could deliver sooner and what would be the cost? We negotiated and ended up winning a piece of the contract on quality and delivery – not on price. 

Customer satisfaction 

“Ultimately, we won the rest of the job, and that turned into an enormous opportunity. This was all down to our attention to detail, and our determination to deliver on our promises – if we say it, we do it. We set up and held weekly meetings. We made sure that we were constantly in touch, and we were giving good, concise answers, the right documentation, along with site visits to our facility and to the construction site. 

“That’s what we bring to the table, and thanks to this, we now have these phenomenal enclosures and skid systems going through our business. The engineering company is extremely happy and satisfied. It has also opened other opportunities with this client. Improving customer satisfaction is something we’ve achieved alongside our new efficiencies and continuous process improvements.” 

Driving R&D 

Nick then moves onto sustainability and the green side of the business. “We’re always looking to decrease our impact on the environment, reduce waste and emissions, increase efficiency and so on. There are several regulations surrounding our products, given their use with water, and we pay a lot of attention to that. For example, PFAS, chemicals that can linger in water, are a major topic, and globally as a business ProMinent is working on solutions that will be PFAS free.”  

One of the reasons this kind of forward-thinking investment is possible is that ProMinent is a privately held company. “We are open very open to product development opportunities, partnerships and acquisitions,” notes Nick, “providing a solid plan is laid out based on sound data.” 

This approach means that new technology is continuously being adopted too – having brought computers to all the manufacturing workstations during Covid, ProMinent then introduced Teams, so that engineers can talk through problems with colleagues on the shop floor and anywhere in the world. “We took it to a step further with a phone app for people in the field to communicate with our technical field support to solve issues in real time. We’re constantly developing and evolving.” 

After the amazing journey that ProMinent has been on in the US, it’s no surprise that the team has been chosen to work on some specific new product development, a task that has previously only been done in Germany. Nick can’t reveal details but acknowledges the significance. “We have people from different locations around the world involved but we are a key part of driving that R&D on this product and the result will be a global offering.” 

Looking to the future, Nick will continue to strive for enhanced efficiency and effectiveness, with the ambition of more than doubling the business’ current size. “This is not necessarily growing our physical location, as we can still do a lot with what we have, as well as do more with other locations. If we continue to grow and develop our people, build operational efficiencies, resource the business correctly, and move quickly in response to where the market is going, then we’re going to continue to see growth and profitability. Continuous improvement is always our priority – it doesn’t matter if it’s sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, or people – we’re always looking at how we take our resources and continue to grow to the next level.”