Pentair committed to Delavan operation

New general manager put through the paces

By Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Nov. 14, 2006, 10:38 a.m.)


The Pentair Water pump manufacturing plant in Delavan has a new floor general.

Mary Jo Surges was named general manager for Pentair's pump division, which is headquartered in the plants formerly occupied by Sta-Rite Industries, a company Pentair purchased in July 2004.

"I was excited about the opportunity to come here for two things," the former Eaton corporation general manager said. "One is there is a great vision at Pentair for driving growth in their business. Some of the recent acquisitions we've seen Pentair do, including this one (buying WICOR, Sta-Rite's parent company), reflect Pentair's appetite for growth."
The other reason, she's back in a state where she lived many years.

"My family is excited to be back," she said.

Since arriving in Delavan about three months ago, Surges has been a part of a seasonal slowdown in production, a relocation of production lines and a transformation of the smaller of the two local facilities.

While Pentair's water systems products had a record sales year, the fourth quarter has been tough, particularly to the lack of potent hurricanes that made landfall in the United States this year, she said.

A handful of employees took voluntary leaves and 25 employees - mostly from production lines, but some from office positions - were temporarily laid off, said Steve Duea, pump division vice president of human resources.

"The fourth quarter is typically very slow," Surges said. "During the slow seasons we will make some of those adjustments to accommodate the slowdown. It's not reflective of the business but of the industry."

The Delavan facilities employ about 800 on the average, Duea said. He expects those 25 employees to be rehired as production ramps up in the first quarter next year.

About 90 employees were laid off or transferred over the course of the year as the pool and spa productions lines were relocated to Pentair plants in North Carolina and California, Surges said.

Because Pentair had pool and spa product manufacturing operations in those locations prior to its acquisition of Sta-Rite, it made business sense to incorporate those production lines there, Surges said.
In its place, Pentair hired 35 employees to manage a new distribution center, which moved into the vacated areas left behind by the relocation of the pool/spa group.

Pentair invested about $1 million to renovate a plant that once made pool pumps, pressure tanks and filters.

The building now warehouses its retail line of residential pumps, which are sold under the Sta-Rite, Flotec and Simer brands. It will take the place of a distribution center once located in Union City, Tenn., Surges said.

"We've consolidated that here in Delavan and it has helped us improve our service levels," Surges said.

The company plans to improve its engineering lab and the installer training programs offered at the Delavan location in the upcoming months.

Other than that, there are no further major changes planned for the near or long term, Surges said.

"We are very committed to our residential water systems business headquartered here. We're committed to the Delavan operation," Surges said.

A Closer Look
Mary Jo Surges was named vice president and general manager of the water systems business for Pentair's Pump Division in July 2006. She has led the sales, business development and product marketing functions for a number of global corporations for more than 20 years.

With Pentair, Surges is the senior executive responsible for driving the growth of the company's residential water systems business, headquartered in Delavan.

For nine years prior to joining Pentair, Surges served in a variety of management assignments at Eaton Corporation, an $11 billion diversified industrial manufacturer. With that company, she held general management and business development roles at the business group and corporate levels.

Prior to her career with Eaton, Surges worked in a variety of progressively responsible management positions with Applied Power and General Electric Medical Systems Group, both in Milwaukee.

Surges earned master's degrees in both financial management and operations management from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from Marquette University.

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