Interview: Lowell Sloan on the History of Defense Products

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In July 2019 the Defense Products Team at Crane Pumps & Systems was given the opportunity to speak with CP&S retiree Lowell Sloan regarding his career and experience within the business and military markets.

Lowell Sloan was a member of the last graduating class at Johnson-St. Paris High School in the rural town of St. Paris, Ohio in 1957. After course work through multiple universities including Texas Western and the University of Dayton, and two years of service with the United States Army, Mr. Sloan worked full time for French Oil Machinery in Piqua, Ohio. In 1977, Mr. Sloan replied to a job posting on an Edison State College bulletin board that would serve as the starting point for a 28-year career. At that time the company was owned by Roper Industries with a trade name of Enpo-Cornell Pump Company.

After completing a job interview at the usual location during the 70’s, a local sports bar in Piqua, OH, Mr. Sloan was hired on full time as a member of the Engineering department working under the guidance of Larry Dunn, Chief Engineer. Mr. Sloan joined Roper as the company was completing the acquisition of Crown Pumps from Waterloo, Iowa, a line of self-priming centrifugal pumps.

When Mr. Dunn became the Factory Manager in 1980, Mr. Sloan was promoted as Chief Engineer. Mr. Sloan explained that during these years, Enpo-Cornell employed several generations of the same family, a practice that has continued today. In fact, Larry Dunn’s daughter celebrated a 40-year employment anniversary with Crane Pumps in 2019.

In 1981, the business name was changed to ENPO Pump Company and shortly after in 1986, the Piqua division of Roper was sold to the Harbour Group out of St. Louis. With a new location specializing in pump manufacturing, Harbour consolidated their Prosser product line, a portfolio including heavy duty industrial and military products, from California into the Piqua facility. In 1987, the business was renamed Prosser-Enpo Pump Company.

In the late 80’s, the products manufactured in Piqua included centrifugal pumps, fire pumps, battle override valves, flow dividers, and torque meters, each used in industrial or military markets both on land and water. The addition of the Prosser products brought about several changes in the Piqua facility in order to adhere with necessary testing and production standards for specialized high-end products. Mr. Sloan recalls that before the addition of Prosser, the Piqua plant did not have a clean room space available for the production and certification of these types of products. As demand increased, Enpo-Prosser operations expanded into an additional facility on Covington Avenue in Piqua, OH where a clean room and test stand were built. Mr. Sloan was involved in the design and development of these areas.

During the late 80’s and 90’s, the majority of the products manufactured by Prosser-Enpo were for use on the F-111 Aardvark attack aircraft manufactured by General Dynamics. In addition to the F-111 aircraft platform, Prosser-Enpo manufactured a Bilge pump, first designed in 1950 and used on the original M4 Sherman Tank but later revitalized for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) manufacturer by BAE for the U.S. Army.

In 2001, Mr. Sloan became Vice President of Specialty Products & Engineering, running lead on projects like the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and others in the quickly growing military business and serving as the starting point of contact for many of the relationships Crane Pumps holds in this market today.

Lowell Sloan retired from Crane Pumps & Systems in 2005 after 28 years of service in various engineering management roles. He was integral in the design of the Brushless Bilge product line and was thrilled to learn Crane Pumps had launched the product after his retirement. He described his proudest accomplishments in the business to be his design and installation of the test lab and clean room. Mr. Sloan jokingly added his satisfaction with being labelled the unofficial “maintenance man” for the facility due to his tenure at the plant.

He lives locally in Piqua, OH and has grandchildren he enjoys spending time with who are enrolled in both Wright State and Bowling Green Universities. Mr. Sloan still meets CP&S employee Doug Shaver, Engineering Manager of Defense Products, for lunch on a monthly basis. When asked about his overall experience working for Crane in Piqua, he replied, “Crane was always good to us.”

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