When the founders of Design Outreach began the process of looking for just the right piece of equipment to deliver clean water in underdeveloped countries, they thought they would have to look at corporations on different continents. However, a chance exchange between a former Peace Corp volunteer and a member of Design Outreach led the Columbus-based non-profit organization to develop a productive and essentially life-changing relationship with the seepex, Inc. company by manufacturing and installing hand-operated water pumps in remote parts of the world.

Abe Wright, Co-Founder of Design Outreach, said when he and Greg Bixler formed the organization, they put a picture of a prototype pump on their Facebook page. The design of the prototype had been discontinued, but Wright and Bixler were going to use it as a point of reference in designing a type of pump that could effectively deliver water to those in need. Told that the capability for manufacturing such pumps would likely only be found in Germany or even farther, Wright was shocked yet relieved when he discovered that the solution existed only 60 minutes away.

“We put that picture on Facebook, and a random guy in California saw it,” Wright said. “He had been a member of the Peace Corp back in the 80s, and somehow knew exactly what we were talking about, and told us that we needed to get ahold of Mike Dillon at seepex right here in our own back yard, essentially,” said Wright. “We had been looking all over the world, and here it was.”

seepex, Inc. of Enon manufactures the pumps needed, and sells them to Design Outreach at cost. “We’re not really interested in profit here,” said Kamran Mirza of seepex, Inc. “We’re more interested in becoming citizens of the global world by participating in such a program.”

Greg Bixler of Design Outreach said his organization started unofficially in 2008, when he partnered with the Central African Republic. He said the demand for his project became so important and so needed amongst many African countries, that it exceeded the scope of his capabilities. Bixler also said the effects of many civil wars on the African continent also forced him home to regroup. He said that World Vision, the other charity group responsible for the clean water project, has lost many vehicles and members of their personnel to the constant conflicts gripping the majority of Africa.

Bixler said Design Outreach officially began three years ago, and is funded primarily through donations. “We get a lot of ‘gifts-in-kind,’” Bixler said. “Johnson and Johnson recently gave us a couple of large grants as well,” said Bixler, adding that the organization is looking into kicking-off “crowd funding,” or asking large businesses or churches to essentially “adopt” a village in need of clean drinking water in a third world country.

Clark County Commissioner John Detrick said Enon was very fortunate to have such a globally-responsible corporation in the area. “150 people work here, and they’re growing,” said Detrick. “The work they do is phenomenal, and they’ve nearly tripled in size since they started,” he said, gesturing around the huge building that was once a fraction of its current size. “We’re looking at 175 to 200 jobs in the next few years, it is truly a first-class operation here under Mike and Kamran,” said Detrick.

Richard Hooper, a seepex, Inc. employee, explained the process of creating such water pumps from start to finish. Hooper said the company manufactures two types of components for the pumps—carbon steel and brass. “The brass can go a little deeper, and it works more efficiently and stays cooler than the carbon steel,” said Hooper.

Mike Dillon, President of seepex, Inc. said he takes great pride in the wetter aspect of his business, as water comprises nearly half of his enterprise, be it water pumps, waste-water, and water used in sanitization. “We are really careful about how we treat our water here,” said Dillon. “We moved here from Dayton, and we’re in a well-field here, just like we were in Dayton…we’re very careful not to put anything dangerous into the sewer,” Dillon said. San Francisco, California even uses a seepex, Inc. product in sanitizing the city’s waste-water supply.

Enon Mayor Tim Howard attended seepex, Inc.’s presentation of their life-changing water pumps last Thursday evening, saying the company’s collaboration on such a project was something to be proud of. “I’m really excited about this. How meaningful it is that this is happening in Enon—the land of plentiful springs,” Howard said. “I’m taken away by all of these efforts…it fits like a glove into the Enon community.”