1660338733915 070911 Berra

John Berra Celebrates a ‘Moment of Joy’

Sept. 10, 2007
Learn how Emerson Electric is making the right investments

John Berra’s boss, David Farr, CEO of Emerson Electric, talked about Berra’s habit of reminding him to step back and relish successes once in a while. “That’s a Berra Moment of Joy,” Farr said, “and then we go back to figuring out how to do it better.”

So when it became John Berra’s turn to address the Emerson Exchange kickoff session, he paused for a Moment of Joy. “I don’t know about you, but I think I have my boss right where I want him,” he crowed, “because he understands process automation.”

Then he stretched the moment to thank all the attendees for their support of Emerson Process Management. “Thanks to you, we’ve been clipping along at a growth rate of about 15% since 2003, and we’re going to do it again in our fiscal year that ends this month. Thanks to our users, we aren’t just doing this in the project business, but in the daily ‘I-need-a-valve-and-three-transmitters’ business.” Berra noted, “We’ve grown $2 billion in sales just since 2003.”

“We are about making the right investments so we can do a better job for you,” says Emerson Process Management President John Berra on the company’s continued investments in people, acquisitions and technology.
“We have used that growth to invest,” he added. “We’ve hired 1,300 new employees all over the world in the past year. We’ve invested in people, and we’ve invested in growth by acquisitions. Just since I spoke to you here last year, we’ve acquired Bristol. Bristol is one of the oldest names in automation, dating from when one member of the Bristol family started Foxboro and the other started Bristol. We acquired them for their expertise in pipeline and water and wastewater treatment systems, and we’re proud to have one of the oldest names in automation in our family.

“We also acquired Damcos. Many of you may not know of Damcos, but if you do any work in LPG in the marine environment, you surely do. Damcos gives us the ability to provide valves and actuators in that environment. We also acquired DMI, whose expertise in the biopharma and batch industries will grow our domain expertise greatly.”

“Next,” Berra went on to say, “we’ve invested in technology at double-digit rates. This is our lifeblood. And it is here, at Emerson Exchange, where we get all the great ideas and input to make our roadmaps work. I’ve said this before, you are the rudder we use to steer the ship.

“We invest in technology across the board, too,” Berra said. “Unlike some of our competitors, we have invested heavily in control valves—because if you have bad valves, all your wonderful control systems won’t work. Good control depends on good control valves. We invest in a balanced way across all our businesses.”

Berra went on, “I am proud to show you seven real applications that have been done since we announced Smart Wireless last year. These are working installations.”

He went on to describe wireless applications at PPG in Lake Charles, La., and at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, an innovative mobile tank car application at CRODA, a wireless freeze-protection system at Milford Power, and three others at unidentified facilities—a refinery, a paper mill and a biotech facility.

“We have to create business results,” he said, “and wireless can do that, especially since last Friday, when the WirelessHART specification was approved and released. Now these applications can be seen to be part of an open standard, the first open wireless standard for process control. WirelessHART is backward-compatible with all the installed HART devices in your plants, and now we can unlock all the trapped diagnostics in your installed base. But more than that, we are about making wireless simple, reliable and secure.”

Changing pace, Berra closed with a discussion of the automation professional, of whom he said, “I was one, and I still am.”

“I used to say that the automation professional was the unsung hero of manufacturing. I detect some changes in that attitude, at least in some smarter companies.” He went on to paraphrase a line from country singer, Barbara Mandrell: “We were engineers before engineers were cool.”

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