- Written by: Matt Dodge
- Produced by: Lance Pelletier
- Est. reading time: 5 mins
Busch USA is a worldwide leader in vacuum technology and a leading manufacturer of vacuum pumps, blowers and compressors with the largest product range in the industry.
Busch USA, the U.S. subsidiary of the Busch worldwide group, is headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia. While the company serves Busch’s U.S.-based customers, it often performs work at the offshore facilities of many American companies, including in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Central and South America.
Founded in 1963 by Karl and Ayhan Busch in Schopfheim, Germany, Busch got its start when Karl first developed a rotary vane vacuum pump for food packaging. By 1971, Busch had expanded into the U.K. and U.S. markets and the company kept growing from there. Today, 60 wholly-owned subsidiaries of Busch can be found in 42 countries around the world and the USA operation alone boasts some 400 employees.
Busch’s extensive portfolio of products include the original rotary vane vacuum pump, claw vacuum pumps, screw vacuum pumps, side channel blowers, liquid ring vacuum pumps, scroll vacuum pumps and vacuum boosters. “We not only manufacture vacuum pumps, but the complete systems around pumps that deal with all the controls and mitigation strategies,” says Charlie Kane, president of Busch USA.
These products are used across a wide range of industries and are perfect for any delicate manufacturing process that requires a pristine atmosphere. “They’re great for customers who are doing somewhat extreme things in the manufacturing processes that require things to be extremely small, fast and pure,” Kane says.
“There is lot of variety of applications; with every new technology that comes out, there’s a good chance that vacuum technology is playing a role at some point in that process,” he says.
Busch products are used in packaging, food processing, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, solar technology, the semiconductor industry, wood processing, plastics processing, medical technology, surface coating and environmental engineering, among others. This range of applications allows Busch to diversify its business and prevents it from becoming too reliant on one specific sector. “We benefit from having the broadest industry reach of any of our competitors,” says Kane.
In laboratory applications such as lasers and nuclear accelerators, Busch’s line of vacuum products help to ensure a neutral environment that will lead to more accurate results. In automated manufacturing facilities, the vacuums vacuum pumps can be used for picking and conveying items within a facility. On environmental rehabilitation efforts, the products enable easier cleanup of contaminated water, air and soil. No matter the use, Busch is committed to helping every customer develop a custom solution.
“We have to understand the pressure and flow requirements that each customer has. Every customer has something different going on in their process and we’re basically drawing that into our equipment,” Kane says.
Once a product has been installed by a customer, Busch offers full life cycle support, including field service engineers and technicians who are on-call to address any issues. “We have on-site teams that are at customer’s facility on a regular basis to maintain, operate and optimize their equipment,” says Kane.
As a leader in the industry, Kane says its Busch’s tried-and-true products that set the company apart. The reliable nature of Busch’s vacuum technology is particularly vital to the semiconductor manufacturing industry where immaculate production facilities are a necessity. “In all applications, if a vacuum pump fails, it is a problem, but with semiconductors if the equipment fails and they waste a batch it can cost millions,” he says.
While reliability is a major factor for most of Busch’s customers, the increased focus on energy efficiency throughout myriad industries has led the company to develop a new add-on product that reduces energy consumption by 40 percent. “We’ve taken a proven line of pumps operating for more than 10 years and created an adaptation that runs in parallel of the pump and adds significant energy savings without the reliability trade-off that you normally have in energy-saving alternatives,” says Kane.
Consistent leadership spurs growth
Having spent a career working for some of the country’s largest corporations like General Electric, Kane says it’s Busch’s family ownership that really sets the company apart and allows it to excel. “Of the six largest vacuum pump companies in the world, we’re the only ones not going through some integration or management shake-up, so we’re able to develop a plan and stick to that plan,” he says.
“We are more invested in the U.S. and have a larger U.S. dollar-based cost structure than anybody.”
In large, top-heavy corporations, decisions are often made very slowly, which impacts a company’s ability to quickly react to industry trends. “Because we’ve got family ownership that’s intimately involved in the business, we’re able to make investments, changes and plans much quicker than some others might be able to,” says Kane.
Busch has made a concerted effort to ensure that the management of each subsidiary understands the needs of the country where the company is based, which Kane says is a rarity in the industry. “It’s unique that most companies are run by local nationals, and in the cases where they are not, it is rarely an expat German,” says Kane.
The Virginia Beach area has become a hotbed for German companies expanding into the U.S. market, but Busch stands apart from the crowd in one noticeable way. “I went to a meeting that had six principals from some of these companies and I was the only one who wasn’t born in Germany,” he says.
While Busch remains a leader in the industry, Kane is keeping a close eye on a strong U.S. dollar and its effect on international sales. “Compared to the competition, we are more invested in the U.S. and have a larger U.S. dollar-based cost structure than anybody,” he says. “Our concern is with our U.S. manufacturing customer base. U.S. manufacturing costs compared to foreign competition have gone up 20 percent.”
Still, with market-leading technology, a new foray into the energy efficiency market and a strong presence around the world, Busch USA will continue to produce the vacuum pumps, blowers and compression systems that are vital to some of the world’s most delicate manufacturing processes.
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