Developing a System for Dispensing SuccessBy Graeme Golucki | April 22, 2019 << Back to Articles
Hydro Systems Company may have taken home its first Innovation of the Year Award last year at ISSA Show North America in Dallas, but the company has been pushing the envelope for quite some time.
Headquartered in Cincinnati, this manufacturer of dosing and dispensing equipment maintains a presence across the world, with operations in Europe, the Middle East, North and South America, and all across the Asia-Pacific region.
Hydro Systems started out in 1963 primarily focusing on designing and manufacturing pressure washers. After a change in ownership in the early 1980s, the company pivoted from the competitive pressure washer market to chemical dispensing systems, which share some of the same critical components. Then in 1997, Hydro Systems was acquired by Dover Corp., which owns several specialty manufacturing firms across the globe.
Mixing up the market
“Once we were acquired by Dover, we really received the funding and resources we needed to take off,” said Matt Hayas, a global product manager for Hydro Systems. “Dover helps us do a lot by supporting our innovations. Essentially, as a company, we’re keyed in on developing methods for mixing or delivering chemical solutions. In addition to our heritage in the commercial cleaning industry, we also focus on agriculture, car wash, food processing, and other industrial applications.”
For more than two decades, Hydro Systems has been able to stand out from its competition by striving to deliver something more to its customers. “Our strategy has never been to be the lowest, cheapest option in the market,” said John Goetz, Hydro Systems global product manager. “We really pride ourselves on delivering products and services above and beyond what our competitors provide. And that goes beyond even the product itself and extends to the technical and customer support services we provide.”
According to Goetz, one of the biggest motivators for Hydro Systems when it comes to product design is the company’s customers. “We try to draw inspiration from our customers and the end-users of our products,” he said. “Our designers are constantly asking themselves ‘What are the pain points the clients might run into? And how do we eliminate these trouble areas for them?’ Then we try to tackle anything that is causing a business to run inefficiently or impact a hospitality establishment’s guest satisfaction or a health care facility’s patient experience.”
User feedback is obviously key to Hydro Systems’ product design, but the company also draws upon the experience and insight of its internal team. “While we have a dedicated product management team, we always work closely with our engineering, technical support, and sales departments,” Hayas said. “These folks have their fingers on the pulse of our industry. As a company, we have a responsibility to stay on top of not just our customers’ needs, but the latest trends in the cleaning industry and even adjacent industries.”
As a global company with customers on almost every continent, Hydro Systems always has to be aware of the latest local laws and regulations as well as regional preferences. “Every day seems like an adventure with us being international,” Hayas said. “Our goal is to try to make a product that can be globalized but also address the nuances of regional differences. For example, water pressure varies across the world, so our products have different functionality requirements depending on the company we’re designing and marketing them for.”
Goetz also sees international demands impacting Hydro Systems’ product design. “As global product managers, it’s our goal to get our company’s products in the hands of as many people as possible,” he said. “Part of our job is to be well versed in what those regional differences are and to accommodate them while keeping the product as standard as possible. We always need to take into consideration things like power and voltage requirements electrical safety approvals, or water and plumbing approvals. Operators in North America may prefer a different controller interface than those in Asia, so we need to accommodate these requests while still enforcing our own standards.”
Assisting Hydro Systems with navigating these industry trends and regional regulations is ISSA. The company has been a member of the association since 1980. “When we first joined ISSA, we were transitioning from pressure washers into dispensing equipment,” Hayas said. “Filling up of spray bottles and mop buckets is what we do, so being a member of ISSA made perfect sense to us. Through the years, our membership with ISSA has been a great way to stay in touch with the industry and discover the newest trends. Plus, ISSA helps us keep abreast of the latest governmental rules and regulations. Being a part of an international association has definitely influenced our product development in numerous ways.”
“Hydro Systems’ mission is ‘Enriching lives through a cleaner world’,” Goetz said. “Our company’s mission is very much aligned with ISSA’s vision of advancing clean and driving innovation. We’re all about enhancing and improving the cleaning and sanitation world, and designing products that really have an impact on our customers’ daily lives.”
Hydro Systems is also an active participant in ISSA initiatives, showcasing its product innovations at the association’s annual North American trade show. “From our standpoint, exhibiting at the ISSA show is all about showing off our latest developments,” Hayas said. “We manufacture hundreds of products, but at the ISSA Show we always want to spotlight our latest developments and explain to attendees why these new products are important. The show gives us the chance to meet with our customers in one area, and not only discuss our current offerings, but find out their needs for future equipment while sharing some details of our potential new products. It’s a great opportunity to discuss with our clients what the future may hold.”
Changing the game
In 2018, Hydro Systems went from being an exhibitor to entering the annual ISSA Innovation Award Program. And not only did the company enter, Hydro Systems took home the prestigious ISSA Innovation of the Year Award for having the top product—EvoClean. A panel of judges selected EvoClean, a venturi-based, water-powered laundry chemical dispenser for on-premise laundry applications, as the top submission from a field of dozens of entrants.
“We entered EvoClean into the Innovation Awards Program because we felt it truly was a game-changing product that deserved recognition,” Goetz said. “Over the course of a year, we develop a lot of products, some with minor revisions some with major modifications, but we wanted to enter something we believed was truly new and fresh to the industry. We were fairly confident of EvoClean’s impact, having received positive feedback from an earlier European launch. That direct customer feedback gave us the confidence to enter the Innovation Awards Program.”
Winning the program’s utmost honor not only heightened the exposure of EvoClean, it provided the Hydro Systems team with an immense sense of validation. “As product managers, often times we personally feel we’re on the right path with an idea or strategy,” Goetz said. “It’s one thing to claim innovation is one of our core values, but to be called out and recognized by our peers and our customers in a competition not based on just a popular vote but an objective measure was a real boost for our internal teams. Winning the award has provided a huge morale boost for our internal teams, but it has also led us to push ourselves and driven us to ask ‘What’s next?’”
As long as Hydro Systems keeps asking that question, striving to be innovative while adhering to the company’s vision, the answer will be nothing but a successful and profitable future.
About the Author.
Graeme Golucki is ISSA's digital strategy editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; phone, 800-225-4772 (North America) and 847-982-0800.