It’s more than sales
Willis has seen countless examples of how GIW’s over-the-top, hands-on customer service model has saved customers time, money, and headaches.
One customer in the phosphate industry was breaking pumps on startup on a long-distance pumping system with multiple pumps in a series. After a site visit, GIW employees realized the customer’s system startup procedures — which consisted of starting the system in the correct sequence but too fast — was creating excessive pressure on the last pump in the line. Instead of just trying to sell more pumps or parts, GIW employees convinced them to slow down the startup procedure to reduce the pressure in the pipeline and eliminate the pump failures.
“We’re in the business to sell pumps and parts, but, really, we’re in business to help the customer make money,” Willis says. “One way to do that is properly teaching them how to operate the pumps to make them last longer so the customer doesn’t have to spend as much money for downtime and repairing the pumps.”
When bigger is better
That’s what customer service means to Willis: It’s an ongoing relationship that requires education, continual improvement, and innovative research to stay ahead in a field that is always changing.
Take wear life, for example: Wear is a constant problem for most customers in extreme conditions. In oil sands, one customer had an application where average wear life for pump wear parts was about 1,500 hours. But Willis recalls this particular oil sands customer issued a challenge to GIW: This client wanted a minimum of 4,000 hours — with an ultimate goal of 6,000!
“We put together a proposal that guaranteed 4,000 hours and promised that we’d shoot for 6,000,” Willis says. “We designed, built, and tested the pumps, and when we got them in the field, the pumps actually achieved the 6,000-hour mark.”
GIW employees designed, manufactured, and performance tested the company’s largest Hydro Transport pump in its Grovetown facility for this customer — a TBC84 pump that houses a massive 84-inch impeller, which is significantly larger than the customer’s original TBC 57 pump. This bigger pump is able to run at slower speeds and gets the same or better throughput, but with a great reduction in wear.
“The pumps lasted the full 6,000 hours with no downtime to replace wear parts,” says Willis. “The customer is extremely happy because it has eliminated two costly maintenance cycles.”
At GIW, we don’t see our customers as just customers; instead, we view them as partners. That means we’re here to continually help them explore and realize their long- and short-term returns by using our products, which, in turn, helps our business as well.
“When we deal with a customer, we like it to be a partnership,” Willis says. “We like to work closely with our customers and help them improve their business. And sometimes they make suggestions to us to help us improve our offerings as well. We help them make money, and they help us make money also.”
This commitment to the customer isn’t going to change anytime soon. And with any luck, it’ll help ensure our mutual success long into the future.
“GIW has been around for 125 years, and we intend to be around that much longer in the future,” Willis says. “We want to work with people who will be long-term partners with us.”