At Work With Water: Keno Cox – XPV Water PartnersAt Work With Water is a new series focusing on the incredible people who are making a differe...At Work With Water: Keno Cox – XPV Water Partners
At Work With Water is a new series focusing on the incredible people who are making a difference for water. In each edition of XPV Water Partners’ newsletter, we’ll speak with a person from one of our portfolio companies who is doing things differently – ensuring that the water sector continues to evolve, thrive, and meet global challenges with innovative solutions.
For this edition of At Work With Water, we spoke with Keno Cox, Chief Financial Officer at Holland Pump, a leader in the manufacture, sale, distribution, rental, and service of specialty pumps and dewatering solutions for more than 40 years. We asked Keno about what brought him to Holland, growing the company, and the recipe for sector leadership.
Like many professionals who now work in water, you didn’t start here. Tell us a bit about your professional background.
I was born and raised in South Florida with a natural penchant for water and outdoor activities; spending tons of my childhood time at parks, pools, beaches, waterparks, you name it. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree at the Fox School of Business at Temple University and wrapping up an auditing role with a regional firm in PA, I longed for the warm year-round weather of South Florida.
I packed my bags and headed home one summer, worked in a couple of great accounting roles before landing in lead roles in FP&A and Yield Management with a major cruise line in Miami, and followed up with a senior finance role at a major rental equipment company in Miami, which was subsequently acquired by the largest equipment rental company in North America.
Throughout these roles, I was responsible for the preparation of the annual operating plan, involved in leading the company’s forecast and budgeting process, assisted with analysis of new business opportunities, managed strategic pricing within multiple cruise markets, and implemented accounting policies and controls.
What attracted you to this sector?
I’d be lying if said that I was thinking about the water sector when I started working in the cruise industry, because all that I really wanted were my cruise perks while engaging with my peers to build a better company and developing strategies to expand profits. However, after a few wonderful cruises, the company held more attractive appeal. It was their commitment to protect the environment by saving the waves; being good community partners by respecting the oceans.
When the opportunity presented itself to return to the rental equipment industry, I didn’t hesitate to jump back in because I had previous success in the space. The true appeal, though, was having an opportunity to work within the water industry with leadership committed to making a positive impact on water resources and its surrounding environment.
What are the things that interest you most about the work at Holland Pump?
Holland has been around since 1978 and has built a solid reputation in the dewatering industry throughout Florida and South Carolina, with recent expansion by way of M&A in Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The company has a strong bench of leadership talent that has worked together in the dewatering industry for decades. It has also augmented the leadership team by recruiting talent with national and international expertise in strategic planning, M&A development, and enterprise accounting.
Our entire team aligns around a core purpose of “We exist to Finish Faster!” This mantra is understood by all functional levels of the business, which allows Holland to provide successful dewatering solutions and right-sized pumping equipment for the job at hand, to deliver unrivalled back-office engagement with its customers, and to equally focus on the internal growth and education of its employees. I’m proud to work with a company that is considered a leader in the dewatering industry, one that strives to “Be Better” and always “Solve the Problem!”
What have you learned about the pump industry?
Dewatering is essential for ensuring a safe environment when building in a wet area. It is often the first and most important stage of construction. Too much water on a job site might compromise the structure under construction and could place workers in harms way. Most builders use dewatering pumps to remove water or other liquid contaminates from construction sites to allow them to construct stable foundations, prevent soil erosion and damage to the landscape, and to provide safe working environments for their workers in trenches.
As one of the company’s leaders, can you speak about how the team approaches building the company?
Holland seeks individuals with a drive to succeed and a commitment to providing unrivaled effort. As leaders, we educate and then empower our team to identify problems, create solutions, bring forth recommendations for improvement and to seek growth.
No one at Holland has just one job, it’s always a team effort and there is usually cross-fertilization of talent across the company’s functional areas. Our employees must be aligned with our core purpose and values to lend to a successful outcome which is to provide exceptional dewatering equipment and maintenance service to our customers, upholding positive customer engagement, ensuring profitability, while fostering safe growth environment for our employees.
We all have personal performance goals, which are not just tied to doing one’s job, but established around making the company better by streamlining business processes, expanding profit margins through cost containment or increased revenue generation, etc. Every action that is taken must include a thought of “is this making Holland better or solving the problem?,” which are two of our core values. We’re heading in the right direction in terms of establishing a solid team with recent additions to our legacy team and are positioned to serve the needs of a growing company.
Is there any advice you’d give to other water sector companies about developing winning strategies?
Seek continual improvement of processes, engage frequently with your customers to understand how to best serve their needs and mitigate breakdowns, educate and train your employees so they understand expectations, and ensure that the company’s vision in incorporated in each functional level/role.