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Rochester Top 100: International sales pump up manufacturer

A focus on innovation has helped Liberty Pumps Inc. succeed.

Charles Cook, president and CEO, said the company pays attention to what is in the market and what is needed.

“Innovation sets us apart from the competition,” Cook said.

Once Liberty Pumps completes an initial transaction with a new customer, its product strength and customer support leads to additional business with them, he added.

“We have a strong brand and a good presence in the market,” Cook said. “It has solidified business with a lot of companies.”

Liberty Pumps, located in Bergen, Genesee County, manufactures sump, sewage and effluent pumps for the professional trade.

The firm was founded by Fred Cook in 1965. Charles Cook initially went to work for his uncle’s business as an engineer. He took ownership of the business in the 1970s.

Liberty Pumps has been growing its sales and staff over the past several years. This year, Cook expects sales of $100.2 million, up from $94.6 million in 2015 and $86.2 million in 2014.

The company has 190 employees, up from 177 workers last year and 156 staffers in 2014.

The company’s physical space also has expanded. Last year Liberty Pumps underwent a multimillion-dollar expansion project, roughly doubling the size of its facility to more than 245,000 square feet.

Cook expects growth domestically and internationally. While international business is relatively new to Liberty Pumps, it has been a growth driver.

The company has been exporting to Canada since the 1990s, but over the past five years it has grown that side of the business. It now exports to more than 30 countries.

Its international efforts were recognized last month when it was one of 123 companies and organizations that received the President’s “E” Award for exporting excellence during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Cook received the award from Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

The award is the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

While current global economic conditions are making international business challenging, Cook believes there is more room for growth. Liberty Pumps recently attended a trade show in Munich to increase its presence in the international arena.

“We’re only getting started,” he said of the opportunities in the international market.

On the domestic side, he expects the business to grow due, in part, to its continued research and development efforts.

A focus remains on new product development, Cook said. Some 15 percent of Liberty Pumps’ workforce consists of engineers who work in design, manufacturing and quality.

Northwest Pipe Fittings Inc., based in Montana, has done business with Liberty Pumps since 2008. 

Scott Bond, pump/industrial sales manager at Northwest Pipe Fittings, said the customer service at Liberty Pumps is unbeatable.

He praised the sales department that ships orders in a timely manner and offers a range of products that are price competitive. He also spoke of the experience of the engineering department and its ability to provide design assistance and troubleshooting support.

“Liberty Pumps is a class act and a valuable vendor,” Bond said.

An industry challenge for small to midsize businesses, including Liberty Pumps, remains government regulations that can make it hard to compete in a global marketplace, Cook said.

To help, he works with federal, state and local agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Commerce, Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. and local industrial development agencies that can help with programs that offset those challenges.

Cook credits Liberty Pumps’ workforce as a driving factor for the success of the firm, which has an employee stock ownership program.

“We have a team that’s really good at what they do,” Cook said.

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2016 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 3. For more information, go to greaterrochesterchamber.com.

Liberty Pumps Inc.
Manufacturer of sump, sewage and effluent pumps and systems
Year founded: 1965
Top executive: Charles Cook, president and CEO
2015 ranking: 24
Current employment: 190
Headquarters: Bergen, Genesee County
Website: libertypumps.com

6/10/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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