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A tough market, according to GEA experts Martin Zickler and Dave Medlar, where it is better to start planning from the back in order to make everything right from the beginning. That’s why they first built up the service network and a local assembly and then made a promise: GEA pumps will bring a new level of quality, efficiency and hygiene to the US dairy, pharmaceutical, food and beverage markets.

GEA acquired Hilge, a leading German pump manufacturer, in June 2015. Since then the company has been integrated into GEA and has benefitted from its engineering experience and global network of customers, suppliers and agents. Now that the pumps have received 3-A certification, the time is right to meet the US market head on.

Martin Zickler is the product manager for hygienic pumps, based in Germany. He worked with Hilge before the GEA acquisition. “The old company had no footprint in the USA,” he said. “But now that we have the backing of GEA and a comprehensive service and distribution network in the country, we are ready to take on the challenge.”

Michael Brandt is the business development manager charged with the job of making the US launch a success. He said that he had never had any doubts about the quality of the pumps and the opportunities for them in the US, but he had to make sure that the service and support structure was up to American standards before introducing them to the market.

Get ahead by looking back

“GEA pumps are strong, reliable workhorses but, for the American market, service is critical,” he explained. “We need to be able to respond quickly to our customers and provide a fast spares service. We also needed a reliable distribution network as customers need to know that if they require assistance, they can get the relevant expertise quickly.”

Dave Medlar, head of sales valves & pumps USA and his team have been working hard to get the support network in place before the product launch. “Of course, providing excellent service is always work in progress but I am now confident that we are ready,” he said. “We have a global reputation to maintain; when people buy a GEA product, they know it’s going to be supported well, also during the entire service life of a pump.”

Hygienic approach becomes a must-have

The GEA centrifugal pumps have a unique impeller design that sets them apart from normal centrifugal pumps. “We have pushed the impeller towards the front making it more efficient and the mechanical seal easier to cool. It mimics a closed impeller but can still be used in the pharmaceutical industry and wherever sanitary conditions are required,” said Martin. “This means the pump is easier to clean and can handle a much wider range of liquids.”

In addition, GEA pump housings are manufactured by deep drawing, not casting. This provides a much higher quality surface finish without blow holes in which bacteria can collect. Although this has been a feature demanded largely by the pharmaceutical industry in the past, the food and beverage market is increasingly requiring a more hygienic approach throughout all aspects of its production.

Engineering excellence that allows customization

Although the product’s unique features are impressive, and it has a great reputation for reliability, Michael sees an even stronger sales proposition in the engineering experience of the GEA group. “It’s like an engineer’s toolbox,” he said. “We know that all applications are different and it’s flexibility that our customers need. Because we are engineers, not just suppliers of components, we can adapt the pumps to fit virtually any application. This might include, for example, different fittings or mountings, a more robust design or even providing the pump on a trolley. We look at the application, then work out what the customer needs are.”

The American Beverage Association (ABA) announced that Katherine Lugar, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), will join ABA as its new president and CEO later this year. Lugar will succeed Susan K. Neely, who successfully led ABA for 13 years. Neely was named president and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) in May 2018.

Lugar will leverage deep public policy and advocacy experience on behalf of ABA and its member companies, which make and sell some of the world’s most popular and innovative non-alcoholic beverages. As president and CEO of AHLA, Lugar transformed the lodging industry’s largest association in her five-year tenure, tripling revenue and membership, strengthening the association’s core mission on advocacy, championing the industry’s voice with policymakers and achieving historic highs for the industry political action committee (PAC) placing it in the top two percent of all association PACs.

Lugar previously served as the Retail Industry Leaders Association’s (RILA) executive vice president of public affairs, where she ran a number of successful, high-profile issue campaigns. Prior to RILA, Lugar led government relations for Travelers Insurance, served as vice president of legislative and political affairs at the National Retail Federation (NRF) and worked on Capitol Hill. She currently is chair-elect of the board of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for pediatric cancer, a member of the executive committee of the Bryce Harlow Foundation and a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100.

The non-alcoholic beverage industry employs more than 250,000 people with a direct economic impact of more than $182.6 billion. The industry manufactures a variety of beverage choices in a wide range of calories and package sizes, including bottled water, 100 percent juice, juice drinks, sports drinks, soft drinks, ready-to-drink teas and energy drinks.