Prior to going to college, Ryan Abbott worked side by side with his father, Bill, in the family business - Abbott's Pump Co. in Granby, Colorado. Abbott, 18, says he might take over the business from his dad someday. In fact, the courses he's taking at the University of Northern Colorado are designed to do just that. “I once wanted to have a successful desk job,” he says. “But after working with my dad, I have seen the benefits and satisfaction that comes with owning your own small business, being your own boss, doing something with your hands and seeing the immediate results of your efforts.”
Abbott is one of thousands of young people being brought up in the well drilling and pump installation business. The National Ground Water Association says a vast majority of the more than 9,500 pump companies in North America are family-run operations. Now at a crossroads in their lives, these young men and women must decide whether to enter the family business or break the chain that often began generations ago - some as far back as the early 1900s. Rather than risk losing them to other careers, some pump manufacturers have begun finding ways to encourage young people to stay in the business - just like their parents and grandparents before them.
“Goulds Pumps and Red Jacket Water Products are doing everything they can to help the next generation of pump professionals,” says Dennis Coggins, vice president of sales for Goulds Pumps and Red Jacket Water Products, subsidiaries of ITT Industries. “With so much riding on the industry's future, it would be foolish to turn our backs on these very bright young folks.” Tuition scholarships, self-study programs, on-line information, pump schools and environmental field studies are just a few of the programs offered under the umbrella of a unique program known as FPDA - for Future Professional Dealers of America. “We have offered all these programs for young people for several years, but we never gave it a name,” Coggins explains. “So we decided to align FPDA with our very successful professional dealer association - the GPDA.”
Goulds Pumps and Red Jacket Water Products kicked off the new program for next generation well drillers at this year's South Atlantic Jubilee in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Everywhere on the exhibit floor, dozens of young people who came with their parents could be seen wearing distinctive FPDA T-shirts and caps. “Our goal is to provide the tools and resources these young people need to consider a career in the pump business,” Coggins says.
Programs available through FPDA include:
- Scholarships - Every year Goulds Pumps offers $1,000 scholarships to 14 sons and daughters of professional drillers and pump installers and their employees.
- Pump Schools - Children of Red Jacket and Goulds Pumps professional dealers 18 years of age or older are eligible to participate in week-long, hands-on pump seminars given throughout the year.
- Environmental Days - Held in conjunction with the Water Systems Council, junior high school students participate in field studies designed to promote the use of wells as a safe, cost-effective source of water to homes, businesses and communities.
- Self Studies - Students also can take advantage of a wealth of technical instructional videos, literature and online information.
Goulds Pumps and Red Jacket Water Products also indirectly support young people in the pump business through various trade associations of which they are members. For a small annual fee, the NGWA, for example, offers student chapters, tuition scholarships, online discussion groups, lectures, literature and other resources for students studying ground water-related programs.
Coggins says he's optimistic that the FPDA will connect with more individuals like Ryan Abbott: “Any time you can help steer a young person toward a career in this business, you are helping the industry thrive.”
For more information about the FPDA, call 315-568-7641. ND