Ken Napolitano is the president of Morton Grove, Ill.-based Xylem Residential & Commercial Water.

Ken Napolitano, president of Xylem Residential & Commercial Water. Photos courtesy of Xylem

Ken Napolitano is the president of Morton Grove, Ill.-based Xylem Residential & Commercial Water. Appointed to the position in 2009, he is responsible for the overall management of RCW, the Xylem business that provides energy-efficient solutions for water systems in the building services and general industrial markets.

Previously, Napolitano served as president of ITT’s Industrial Process value center and earlier held a number of leadership assignments in sales and marketing within the company. Napolitano, who started his career with ITT Goulds Pumps as an intern in 1980, was elected chairman of the board of the Hydraulic Institute in February 2011. Napolitano sat down with pme at the 2012 AHR Expo to discuss a variety of topics.

pme: What prompted the company name change to Xylem?

KN: Xylem was spun off from ITT (Nov. 1, 2011).What we have now is a business strategically focused around water and better concentrated in decision-making. We’re more nimble as a company. Xylem’s investments are focused around water and we’ll continue to be a thought leader in that industry.

pme: Xylem is launching a variety of new products and technologies. What's the impetus behind these rollouts?

KN: Two things are driving this. A lot of energy-efficiency optimization comes from the components themselves, but the big opportunity is understanding how they interface within a system.

Xylem is connecting with a younger generation of engineers through channels such as the company’s new SystemSyzer iPhone and iPad app.

pme: Xylem has extensive involvement with a variety of energy-efficiency organizations. What do you take away from these relationships?

KN: We work with the Department of Energy and we know LEED certification is important. As green products are specified on an increasing basis in new buildings, we have increased our investment in research and development and in new product innovation. We want to help shape solutions that are beneficial to all our customers.

pme: Are government water-conservation regulations too restrictive?

KN: Regulation has to be done the right way. The DOE wants to work with us to drive energy efficiency and attempt to reduce energy consumption. It does not have an expertise in pumps and looks to companies such as ours and the Hydraulic Instititute to help. We are not fans of ineffective regulation. We want to ensure that regulation has the right cost benefit.

pme: How pronounced are water shortages around the world?

KN: Many parts of the world are in the midst of a water crisis. Xylem commissioned a survey that highlights how often water infrastructure breaks in the U.S. Municipalities spend a lot of money handling wastewater and 30% of that seeps back into the ground because of leaky pipes. Those types of figures are staggering. A balance needs to be struck between the cost of water and the demand for it. That is what will drive the right behavior and investment in infrastructure. All we’re doing right now is applying a Band-Aid to keep up. We need to make substantial improvements in the infrastructure.

pme: How are you better connecting with your customers?

KN: One example is our System Syzer iPhone and iPad app. It gives the user individual sizing options and specific calculations for energy consumption. You can compare one design against another. This is how the younger engineers want to work. We’re adding value for that younger generation and giving them the tools to do their jobs. We’re also shifting more of our focus to social media activities -producing YouTube videos,  creating different apps and using Facebook to communicate.

We are better educating our channel partners. One of our strengths is distribution. Many of those companies are second- and third-generation and have been partners with Bell & Gossett for 40 or 50 years. We’re taking these concepts to our channel partners and they are embracing them.