This year marks 30 years of The Macomb Group doing business under its current majority ownership when two childhood friends who dreamed of owning a business seized the opportunity in 1991.
Originally founded in 1977, The Macomb Group today includes 18 locations across seven states. In Michigan the firm operates eight facilities, including its national headquarters in Sterling Heights. The company also has facilities in North and South Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana.
As a wholesale distributor of pipe, valves, fittings, gauges, and specialty products, The Macomb Group has ranked in the top 10 nationally as a distributor of industrial PVF. The Macomb Group serves a diverse mix of end markets, including automotive, food and beverage, general manufacturing, hospitals, schools, power plants, and general industry.
Recently, CEO Bill McGivern and Executive Vice President Keith Schatko discussed the company’s beginnings, its challenges, and the outlook for the future.
“Bill and I played little league baseball together in our hometown of Harper Woods (Michigan),” Schatko recounted. “We were drafted by the same team by pure coincidence.” Years later, both Schatko and McGivern were working at what was known then as Macomb Pipe & Supply to help pay for college tuition.
“We started in the warehouse sweeping the floors, packing orders, working the sales counter, and at the same time becoming familiar with the products. Keith and I always fancied ourselves as up-and-coming businesspeople, but understood how critical warehouse operations would be in order to grow,” McGivern recalled.
It was in January 1991 that McGivern and Schatko, together with then-partner Doug Howe purchased the company through a leveraged buyout.
Starting out with small customer orders, the young company’s big opportunity came in 1997 as plans were unveiled for the new McNamara Passenger Terminal at Detroit Metro Airport.
“We set ourselves up, determined to bid on and win business for that huge project,” McGivern said. “In 1999 we were awarded a contract for the bulk of the materials. That was the catapult that defied the competition and put us in the big leagues. It eventually worked. Slowly but surely, we kept performing and improving.”
Schatko added that a series of company mergers and acquisitions over the years plus the integration of business processes laid the path to the creation of The Macomb Group.
Looking to the future, McGivern said he’s cautiously opportunistic. “If an opportunity presents itself, we’ll look at it and, if viable, work to make it fit,” he said. "There’s always the potential for future growth, but it has to be based on our ability to continue doing what we do better than anyone else, and that’s customer service," added Schatko.
Schatko said they have been extremely fortunate to be able to hire and retain many skilled and dedicated longtime employees over the years.
“We’re small enough to be nimble, and the teams of highly capable experts at all our locations offer our customers unmatched industry experience and institutional knowledge,” McGivern noted.
Now, looking back on that childhood dream, the company’s partners proudly celebrate 30 years offering the finest products, equipment and services in a highly competitive industry that includes national leaders like The Macomb Group.