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Small, but mighty is an apt description of the Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturers Association. Formed in 1956, the group includes 10 manufacturers, (not including its OEM “associate members”), but that tally still means the group represents almost all of the US companies making sump, effluent and sewage pumps along with related components and accessory supplies.
For much of its history, the primary goal of the SSPMA was to share information about the market through confidential and independently tabulated quarterly sales statistics as well as a yearend report, and provide the manufacturers with a common voice to raise over code and engineering developments that would affect them all.
That work continues, but in more recent years the SSPMA has broadened its scope to include an array of educational opportunities for the contractor, engineer and even end-user. Prior to this year with concerns over public gatherings due to the pandemic, the SSPMA offered live training in conjunction with the popular WWETT and WEFTEC shows.
And there is also plenty of free material that can be directly downloaded from the organization’s website. The group also has an active LinkedIn page and a YouTube channel, which includes one video watched more than 85,000 times.
In addition, around a decade ago, the SSPMA began its own certification program for sump and effluent pumps conforming to standards developed by the group.
Engineers, specifiers, contractors and end-users expect a pump that arrives on the job to meet certain reliable design criteria. Pumps bearing the “SSPMA-Certified” seal have been tested by the manufacturer members, and rated in accordance with stringent SSPMA industry standards to verify that they will perform as stated.
“The standards are designed to supply the specifier, purchaser and end-user of sump, effluent and sewage pumping equipment with accurate performance data, and to assist in the determination of proper application and selection of this equipment,” says Jeffrey Goodenbery, the president of the SSPMA and customer service manager at Liberty Pumps, the upstate New York manufacturer where he has spent the past 16 years.
We talked to Goodenbery to find out more about the SSPMA, and how the certification program and the association’s other activities can help the plumbing industry.
PHC News: What are the big issues right now for the association?
Goodenbery: I think every president of the SSPMA looks for ways to get the association’s name out there. I want the SSPMA to be the first resource people look to for information on pumps. Hand in hand with that, is increasing our value to our members. The more we can put our name out there, naturally, the more we can increase the value to our members.
And the fact is we have plenty to offer the industry. We can talk more about our certification process, which I think is of great importance, but our education program has been a foundation of the SSPMA over the years. And by “education,” I can include a variety of individual programs that can fit under that heading.
For example, we gather a collection of statistics designed to describe market size and activity. That’s great education for our members, but we offer more knowledge to others, too. In addition to our own standards that we have set for our own certification process, we’ve also always advocated for improved provisions in building and onsite wastewater treatment codes on the use of sump, effluent and sewage pumps. Finally, educational materials are designed to encourage proper and safe sizing, installation, maintenance and use of sump, effluent and sewage pumps.
PHC News: Tell us more about the pump certification process and why you think it is so important.
Goodenbery: You can easily buy anything you want in the world these days. But it’s tough to find items that are backed up from a quality perspective – that, in other words, perform as expected.
Contractors, engineers and end-users expect a pump that works – that performs as it is supposed to do. And do it time and time again.
Third-party certifications, such as UL and CSA, have standards for the electrical components. While certainly important, the organizations do not ensure other key performance criteria. Generally speaking, third-party certifying organizations are concerned with safety more than performance. That’s where our certification comes in.
Pumps bearing the “SSPMA-Certified” seal have been tested, by the member manufacturer, and rated in accordance with stringent SSPMA standards to verify they will perform as stated by the manufacturer of the particular equipment involved. The process the certified pumps go through ensure that they will perform as they are indicated to perform. I think it’s important that our certification is recognized because while our organization includes individual manufacturers that produce a lot of different makes and models of equipment, there is one certification process to back it all up.
I think when you step back and then also consider everything else that we do – many things that we’ve done for years before the certification process began – we should be recognized as experts on behalf of the industry.
PHC News: Once a pump is certified, then what?
Goodenbery: Manufacturers of sump, effluent and sewage pumping equipment may indicate adherence to these standards by stating in specifications and product description: “Tested and rated in accordance with SSPMA Standards.”
Manufacturers that are licensed through the association may also affix the “SSPMA Certified” seal to products bearing their name or brand name, or incorporate the seal design in the description of any product to indicate adherence to these standards and procedures.
The certification is good for one year and then every year, manufacturers renew the certification.
PHC News: Let’s switch gears and talk about training opportunities. We know a lot was different in 2020 with many trade shows cancelled. And there aren’t too many to count on at the moment for 2021. But tell us what you all have done.
Goodenbery: We had a big presence at the WWETT Show, and, typically, held sessions that were very well attended during that show. A lot of our classroom training sessions started out as white papers that our technical committee developed over the years; I say that because the training is not focused on any one individual company so, it’s good neutral information about the pump market.
A few of the most popular topics have included the following:
Now, I certainly miss trade events and look forward to their return. That said, I guess we’ve offered “social distanced training” without knowing it since a few years ago our board decided to offer plenty of free education and downloads available right on our site.
There are a number of useful materials for contractors on sizing guidelines, as well as installation and troubleshooting tips. And there is plenty of material geared for the residential owner who, for example, wants to understand the use of grinder pumps or how to treat sewage in challenging locations where they may have their septic systems.
PHC News: How else are you trying to meet during pandemic?
Goodenbery: We'll do a Zoom meeting just to keep things moving along. It's tough. We only met formally twice a year to begin with; we were able to get together face-to-face last spring in early March before travel become difficult and working remotely became common for all of us.
Much of the work we do is broken down into a technical committee and a marketing committee. And, of course, we have a board meeting to decide what are agenda should be. It’s not the same with everyone remote and joining in online, but we do our best to keep moving this way until we can get together in one room again.
PHC News: I think there’s an interesting story to tell about your YouTube channel, isn’t there?
Goodenbery: We have about a half-hour video on our YouTube channel on effluent pumps for onsite wastewater treatment plants that’s been viewed more than 85,000 times. If I remember right, this is basically a converted CD-ROM presentation from the 1990s so this has been around awhile. It may look old, but the information is still actually very good.
PHC News: Let’s end the interview with we guess is an old topic, which is the sales reports the group has long compiled. What do you as a manufacturer learn from these exactly?
Goodenbery: Well, it’s just solid market information. The sales numbers are confidential, but companies certainly know their own numbers. So, companies can see where they stand and where they might need to improve.
The numbers are broken out, for example, by state and general product type so it might show that a company is doing well in a region or a product line, but maybe not so well elsewhere.
In other words, the report helps spot trends – good or bad – and point out where to focus.
PHC News: Any other particular membership benefit you’d like to end our discussion with?
Goodenbery: I think a huge benefit of membership with the SSPMA is that you have a voice, and maybe some added clout, when we come together as one group.
The original purpose that started this organization more than 60 years ago was
to make sure that the pump industry had a forum to determine the code terminology and engineering requirements that would affect all pump manufacturers.
Take for example, when changes are made to codes. Whether we are for or against the code changes that are being discussed, I think it helps matters immensely when we have the collective voice of a trade association making the case instead of individual companies attempting to do the same. All those separate companies probably want the same end result anyway. So, it’s much better to make it a group effort.