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One hundred and fifty years is a long time to make connections, but Anvil International is proof that they can last. The company has made a tremendous amount of strides since Frederick Grinnell’s purchase of Grinnell Supply in 1909. It wasn’t until 2000 that Grinnell would become Anvil International. Since the 1800s, though it has undergone many changes, the company has snowballed into an industry giant, providing expertise and product solutions for a wide range of applications, from plumbing and mechanical, HVAC, industrial and fire protection to mining, and oil and gas.
Dean Taylor, vice president, has been with Anvil and its predecessors for 30+ years. His past responsibilities have included sales, running operations, plants, international business and fire protection business. Currently, he oversees all divisions of sales and marketing, worldwide. We discussed with him some of the recent acquisitions and exciting transitions the company has experienced.
Sarah Cimarusti (SC): Anvil is on quite the roll with its recent acquisitions over the last year. Please discuss your recent transaction with One Equity. What have been some of the most crucial additions and functions of this relationship?
Dean Taylor (DT): One Equity Partners, a capital investment group, purchased Anvil in January 2017. The One Equity team and the Anvil management team have the same vision, to grow the company by acquisition and by developing new product. One Equity has supported and approved use of capital required to make the first two acquisitions — AFCON in March, and Grinnell Mechanical Products in August.
SC: You said, “Our new ownership, One Equity Partners, asked us for meaningful acquisitions and AFCON was first on our list.” What is an example of a “meaningful acquisition,” and why was AFCON first on the list?
DT: We look to grow and strengthen Anvil by providing products and engineering services that are needed by the contracting and engineering community. AFCON, a pioneer in manufacturing fire protection seismic pipe hanger and bracing, has been on our list of attractive companies for quite some time. Seismic restraints have been required on piping systems on the West Coast for a number of years; more recently, seismic bracing requirements have rolled out throughout the rest of North America. Anvil’s goal is to provide education and product solutions to our customers in order to help meet their seismic requirements. This acquisition will help us meet the emerging market demands.
SC: How did Grinnell Grooved Mechanical Products add to your product portfolio?
DT: Anvil wants to expand its alternative joining portfolio. Grooved systems in mechanical and industrial applications pose a great growth opportunity in lieu of welded or flanged systems. The Grinnell grooved product line broadens our Gruvlok offering with the addition of press stainless steel, unique mining valves and the opportunity to identify standard product with the best features for the industry.
SC: What have these recent transactions done to ensure the longevity of the Anvil model?
DT: First, Anvil’s largest strength is its people, I believe we have the best people in the industry, and with these acquisitions come some great additions to the Anvil family. Second, we have a unique offering of both traditional and alternative joining piping components and piping hangers. This wide-range offering separates our package of products from any other manufacturer or mass distribution sourcer in the industry. It allows our customers’ wholesale distributors access to this broad array of products from one of Anvil’s full service distribution centers.
SC: What new software, technology and people are aiding in the delivery of some of your recent changes?
DT: From a technology perspective, we have newly combined software for the Anvil/AFCON seismic brace product, slated to be released November 2017. This new iteration of the Seis Brace software will be available on our website, free of charge, and is a hybrid of both Anvil’s seismic calculator software and the AFCON ZOI software.
As part of the Grinnell Mechanical Product acquisition, we plan to combine Anvil’s Gruvlok and Grinnell mechanical design services groups resulting in an even stronger ability to meet contractor demands for engineering services. We also continue to add to our BIM and Revit family portfolios to ensure we are giving the engineering and contracting community what they need to successfully win more projects. Anvil also continues to expand our partnerships with leading industry construction software providers allowing them use of our in-house Revit family content.
SC: What have been some of the most positive changes in becoming a privately-owned company as opposed to a public one? What does it look like internally? What has been some of the employee and management feedback?
DT: I have been with Anvil for more than 30 years, and in my tenure, we have been public, private and owned by equity partnerships. They are all different, and like most things, there are positives with each. With our current partner, we find they are focused on our business, quick to analyze a good fit, and trust in our ability to integrate these acquisitions. Our management team is really excited about where we are headed, as is the rest of our team.
SC: This must be an exciting time but also a challenging one. What are some challenges and setbacks you’re encountering with the recent transitions? How will these encounters ultimately prepare you for the future?
DT: Challenges are present with any acquisition, and solving or mitigating these challenges is a core competency at Anvil. I have been fortunate to see people I work with grow with our company. They are the best problem-solvers in the industry. At Anvil, we are a group of doers where everyone has input and then get things done.
SC: What are some opportunities and areas of growth that Anvil will be focused on over the next few years? Are there any other “meaningful” relationships Anvil has its sights set on?
DT: We have our sights on several more “meaningful” acquisitions and will be introducing some great “new” products and services to continue to grow our product package. We will
have to surprise the industry on the exact details.
SC: Anvil has been a trusted leader for more than 150 years. How does this present moment reflect some of the priorities and relationships over the years?
DT: Anvil’s history dates back to around 1850 with Frederick Grinnell, one of the pioneers in the fire protection and piping business. In reflecting, I would say this; we are proud of our long-term relationships with our distributor partners; many date back over 50 years. We will continue to evolve along with our distributor partners; together we will meet market challenges and give the construction industry what it needs — superior product and “Building Connections That Last.”
SC: What are some of the struggles and opportunities you’ve witnessed in the industry as a whole? How will you align yourself to them?
DT: One of the largest industry challenges, as I see it, is attracting the younger generation. Construction is not considered a sexy business, and our industry needs to figure out a way to recruit top talent. As a parent of college age children, it nice to see the younger generation visit your company website and review the content. Anvil is presently building a new website that is more interactive and user-friendly. Enhancing the website improves our communication with market users and especially the younger generation.
Addressing challenges, the industry continues to move towards alternative joining rather than welding, soldering, flanging and threading. The contractor owners are telling us the labor base does not have enough technical training to be proficient at these traditional methods, and the ease and use of alternative joining continues to grow. We will expand our product line and align ourselves with these forward trends as exemplified with the recent Grinnell mechanical acquisition.