This week’s Industry Person of the Week is RJ Russell, President of Russell Industrial Group.
Q: How did you get started working in your field?
RJ: I got my start in the pump business via a summer internship with a local pump distributor. At the time I was desperate for something to put on my resume and doubt I could’ve even told you what a pump looked like! I spent the entire summer in the repair shop watching equipment come in, be disassembled and inspected, and then later rebuilt and shipped back to the customer. It was a tremendous learning experience and a great way to really get my hands dirty in learning the ins and outs of the equipment. I believe working in a shop for at least a few weeks prior to an office-based position is incredibly valuable in giving you foundational pump knowledge. The following summers I spent in inside sales learning the pump business. After graduating from college, I joined a pump manufacturer and touched all aspects of the business: engineering and manufacturing to sales and distribution. After nearly 9 years I decided to branch out and start Russell Industrial Group (RIG) with a focus on manufacturing severe duty submersible pumps for abrasive and corrosive applications.
Q: What do you love the most about your job? What are you most proud of?
RJ: I’ve got a two-part answer:
The people in this business. Both the vendor and customer sides are filled with wonderful and knowledgeable people that I enjoy working with. You can always meet someone new and learn something from them.
The challenge of solving a customer’s problem and the satisfaction in hopefully giving them one less thing to worry about.
I’m most proud about the impacts I made while working at a pump manufacturer. I was instrumental in bringing the manufacturing back to the United States and developing new key vendor relationships. I also gave the company some renewed focus by expanding our product customization to serve a wider range of industries and applications.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work or new to the field?
RJ: Be a sponge and get your hands dirty! Too many engineers are graduating with a lack of any real world/hands on experience. You can learn so much by touching the equipment and seeing signs of failures etc. Work alongside a skilled mechanic and take as many field or plant visits as possible to see the equipment in action. There is so much invaluable knowledge held in this industry by long time professionals and there is no replacement for this type of experience.
Q: Can you talk about a project you recently worked on?
RJ: We had a large project for a power generation plant that involved some high-grade super duplex stainless material requirements and with continuous run dry motors. It was a great opportunity to showcase our expertise and product. We were able to meet all their requirements and even accommodate their request to deliver a few units ahead of schedule. I enjoy the challenges these type projects bring and think they often present the best opportunity to show what we do best and separate us from the competition.
Q: Anything Else you would like to add?
RJ: My goal with RIG is to be the premier manufacturer of heavy-duty submersible slurry pumps for abrasive and corrosive applications. We proudly manufacture here in the United States and can tailor the R-Series pump to tackle the most demanding services.
THANK YOU, RJ! WE LOOK FORWARD TO KEEPING UP WITH YOU THROUGH THE #PUMPTALK COMMUNITY!
KNOW AN AMAZING PERSON WHO IS MAKING VALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS WITHIN INDUSTRY? NOMINATE THEM TO BE AN “INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE WEEK”!