Kevin Kampe

“We All Must Meet Customers Where They Are”

Feb. 9, 2021
FPDA president Kevin Kampe talks about the lessons of 2020 and the outlook for 2021.

After a year of turmoil and transition in 2020, the fluid power industry faces new challenges—and opportunities—in the new calendar year. A new federal administration is touting both a rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine and a bipartisan effort to pass a large infrastructure bill.

How those events and other might affect the fluid power industry were part of a Hydraulics & Pneumatics discussion with Kevin Kampe, president of Womack Machine Supply Co., in Dallas and current president of the Fluid Power Distributors Association (FPDA).

H&P: Coming off a year no one really wants to look back on, what are your members looking forward to in 2021?

Kampe: I think most are looking forward to a year of growth. Most members have been significantly impacted by the pandemic and are looking forward to bookings growth in Q1.

H&P: Among the first things the new Congress and administration will take up is a long-discussed infrastructure bill. Talk about the impact this bill will have on your industry. What are the benefits and potential challenges in such an effort?

Kampe: I think it largely depends on your customer base. Those that have OEMs of heavy equipment will certainly benefit from market demands. Contractor and other partners will need additional repairs and services to keep fleets up and running. Depending on the timing of the bill, many customers and suppliers may struggle to meet lead time and delivery demands.

H&P: At a time when unemployment is still impacted by the pandemic, there still is a need for skilled workers in the fluid power industry. What steps has the industry already taken to address the worker shortage? How do we effectively recruit more people to the industry?

Kampe: The biggest impact that industry has had comes from providing education—both on the technology of the industry as well as the roles and jobs available. Industry must continue to invest in high school, vocational and higher education programs to inspire students to pursue opportunities in fluid power and industrial automation. 

H&P: Many companies had to adopt new technology and work practices on the fly in 2020. What are some of the lessons from 2020 that you think will carry forward after the pandemic is over?

Kampe: The ability to work from home is by far the biggest lesson learned in 2020. Companies have deployed remote technology that have enabled their employees to be as efficient—and in many cases, more efficient—than they were in the office. I believe all our members have learned how valuable virtual selling is in this new reality. We all must meet customers where they are and continue to drive business forward.

H&P: What technology advanced should we look for in 2021? What will the next generation of tools and systems include?

Kampe: I think everyone should be on the lookout for new virtual reality and augmented reality tools. These tools can create unique virtual environments to engage with customers. The speed of communication will also increase at a rapid rate in 2021. Making sure that you are ready to consume and communicate rapidly with your customer

This article appeared in Hydraulics & Pneumatics and has been published with permission.

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