Robert Scott Rowe has been CEO of Flowserve Corporation since April 2017. The company is a listed pump, valve, seal and related services provider, based in Irving, Texas. The Group employs approx. 17,500 people in more than 50 countries worldwide. Rowe has worked in the industry since 2002 and began his career with Cameron International (Schlumberger Group). Before that, he held a military position in the US Army. He holds a degree in engineering from the United States Military Academy (West Point) and an MBA from Harvard University.
Flowserve can look back on over 200 years of corporate history. How have you managed to be successful in the market for so long?
The technical expertise of our employees is second to none, as is the top market position of our pumps, valves and mechanical seals. Thanks to this competence and our broad product range, we have always been able to win over customers from a wide variety of industrial sectors.
We live in a time of enormous technological changes. How does Flowserve succeed in reinventing itself over and over again?
In early 2018, we launched a major transformation initiative called Flowserve 2.0. After an internal review, we found that our company was lagging behind in a number of key areas. We therefore developed a comprehensive corporate change initiative. We know exactly why we need to change and have a clear idea of how we want to position ourselves in the future.
How important are intelligent and digital processes as well as new business models for your company?
Digital processes, new manufacturing technologies and material advances, as well as the industrial Internet of Things are rapidly evolving areas. Although much is being discussed in our industry, we still have no really good solution to offer our customers. However, in recent years we have made vast strides and spent a great deal of time collecting data and developing “intelligent” solutions for our customers. I believe that our business models need to change as technology evolves. Flowserve will ultimately have to commit to performance-based contracts that combine availability, reliability, system optimization services and solutions. We are not there yet, but we are on the right path.
What do you see as the greatest threat to your industry within the next five or ten years?
Our industry is always under pressure. Geopolitical risks and the introduction of disruptive technologies over the next five years will pose the greatest risk to our industry. The world is in a dynamic state, and global companies must be able to master the various challenges that are occurring at a rapid pace around the world. In ten years’ time, our industry will face the challenge of changing energy production. In response, our industry must adapt to other markets and focus more on renewable energy sources and new segments requiring flow control.
How do American companies deal with the topic of change in general? How open are employees and executives to change?
I believe that most American companies accept change. There is a deep-rooted entrepreneurial spirit in America, and good companies are finding ways to leverage that and bring about positive change. It is important that executives and managers create a corporate culture that rewards innovation. Creative thinking must not be punished!
Viewed from a distance: In your opinion, how versatile are German companies? Where do you see its strengths and weaknesses?
Similar to the United States, some German companies are open to change, while others are trapped in traditional ways of thinking. For the past twelve years, I have had the privilege of working with German industrial production. During this time, I have seen some companies that have fully embraced change and transformed. But I have also seen companies in Germany that were more than 20 years behind and facing insurmountable investment hurdles in order to catch up. The main difference between these companies was clearly the corporate culture and the quality of local leadership.