Tim Lai – Pumped for his new business

Tim Lai, had worked two decades in leadership roles at one of the largest and most respected multinationals in the world, yet he had found himself frustrated he had unfulfilled entrepreneurial urges which needed attention.
Tim is an expert in Sino-Foreign partnership integration, having developed and managed multiple cross-cultural and bilingual Joint Ventures for 25 years.
Then through LinkedIn Tim connected with Aquatica co-founder Mark Thomas and a new enterprise was underway. With a clear product positioning ticked off in his mind, Mark resolved to move up the value chain and operate as an Importer and Value-Added Reseller in Australia.  His research identified the bulk of water pumps sold in Australia are indeed manufactured overseas, predominantly in China.  Sourcing and supply chain management, hence, is a critical success factor, but Mark needed skillsets for this and that’s where Tim came to the fore.

This unique partnership is best witnessed on how its products are developed – which commences when Mark identifies that gap in the market (i.e. between premium pumps priced at the higher end of the market, and a range of lower-priced products with limited quality and performance), then decides how to improve performance and hardware specifications to kickstart the procurement process.  Tim then taps his network of suppliers in China whom he has cultivated for the past few years with his experience and ability to communicate “beyond the rhetoric”, with a strong emphasis on quality control, on-time delivery and competitive prices.

In fact, Tim jokes that he is, indeed, quality control for Aquatica – and always insists all Aquatica pumps undergo thousands of hours of testing, have their base models already sold into other global markets, and he must have a relationship with the owner or Chairman of each supplier to have personal leverage if required.

The company’s imprimatur on its supply chain management and quality control is evidenced by its standard three-year warranty, although enhanced specifications against its competition will mean Aquatica pumps will last a long time beyond what the market is supplying – hence a lower total asset life-cycle cost to the end consumer.

 Tim’s own above ground Aquatic pump

Aquatica’s brand positioning will mean each pump in its range will carry upgraded specifications, be it German-made ball bearings, upgraded impeller material, Italian design and made seals, plus other quality extras.

The company services “resellers”, may they be Merchants or Trades, and is confident there is sufficient margin for all players in the value chain – benefits of Mark and Tim’s low margin need, fair pricing and large margin spreads across its product range.  It is not atypical for Merchants to sell to Trades as well, and the company is comfortable there is an incentive for all players.

Currently, Aquatica carry two product lines which are steadily gaining traction in the marketplace, especially in Sydney.  They are the Surface-Mounted Intelligent Automatic Self Priming Jet Pump and the Clean Water Submersible Pump, both pumps with Built-In Automatic Pressure Controller and offer high-pressure high flow performance.  In development are a surface pump targeted specifically for the builder’s market and a dirty water sump pump.

(These Aquatica pumps are listed below. Click on them to access a PDF brochure)

So whilst it’s frustration that conceived Aquatica, it is opportunity and a relentless drive for value which fuels this new venture for its two co-owners who are certainly not lacking in motivation to make the brand work.  As both shareholders state, “we’ll never be a large player due to our product positioning, but as we strive to get a small slice of any customer’s sales spread, we are confident we’ll deliver value and quality and a significantly larger margin spread for them”.

For more information on Aquatica pumps CLICK HERE.