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As the official publication of the PVF Roundtable, The Wholesaler aims to highlight the great work each board member implements. They work to make a difference through education and experience, not only in their respective organizations, but in the PVF industry as a whole. This is the story of Ginger Restovic, a titan of industry in her own right. Here, she speaks about the importance of staying informed and constantly networking to achieve greater heights in one’s own career.
Danielle Galian: Please share your history/involvement with the PVF industry. How did you get started?
Ginger Restovic: Right before starting in the industry, I was a professional headhunter. I had a job order for a company that was very intriguing to say the least. I was sending all of my best candidates, but the owner found something wrong with each one. So, I decided I needed to meet the owner face-to-face, and see what he really wanted and why he was rejecting all of my suggested candidates. After hearing his story of why each one was not suited, I told him I thought I knew why he could not find the right person. I said that no one could do the job but me. I was dissatisfied with the professional placement industry at that time as Houston was experiencing such explosive demand that jobs were so plentiful. People tended NOT to stay where you placed them, and it was a continual revolving door.
He thought I was brash, which I was, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I left his office, went back to mine, turned in my resignation, and decided I needed a trip to clear my mind for the next phase of my life plan. So, I went to the Bahamas. When I returned a few days later, a message was blinking on my answering machine. It was the owner, wondering why I was not at work –— at his office! I said I did not know he had hired me. Well, he had, and said I needed to be at work in the morning. It was a late Thursday night, and I said I would like to start on Monday as I needed to get ready to start. He insisted I begin the next day, so I did. That was in 1980. I have been in the business ever since. That company was International Manufacturing. We manufactured valves for others and eventually our own line as well. Our own line was OIC Valves. Amazingly, I learned that we also made valves for Cooper Valves. You know, when I went in that first day, I knew nothing about valves. I pretty much thought that they were all plumbing size valves. I had no idea what an extensive industry it is — especially here in Houston, Texas.
DG: Did you have a mentor?
GR: Yes, my first boss, Ed Wayne Jr. That wonderfully crazy man who gave me my start was my mentor. I used to tell everybody that he gave me a better understanding of business and human nature than I would have probably gotten at Wharton School of Business. He was, and still is, tough, fair, firm and takes no prisoners. It is a great life lesson for anyone. He always taught me, as well as the other staff members to, “Not Be A Victim.”
We are great friends still and keep in touch. He is now running his own NGO, and doing good helping others — especially children worldwide.
DG: You started your business career in Buffalo, New York. What prompted your move to Houston?
GR: In the late 1970s, I was living in Buffalo — snow capital of North America. It was also part of the Rust Belt. Not only was it bone-chilling cold, it was in a huge economic downturn. My husband (at that time) was a police officer and a young man. Layoffs were happening everywhere, and he was in danger of losing his new job as he was the last hired and youngest on the force. So, I did a lot of research and discovered that there were three good options for us: Move to Los Angeles, Miami, or Houston. I already knew that L.A. and Miami were not for us. Been there, did not like either.
That left Houston, which is geographically and culturally closer to what I grew up with. I was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and somewhat of a military style brat as my father was an electronics technical writer for the Air Force for radar and guidance systems. Houston would be a much easier commute than from Buffalo to see my friends and family still living there. So, sight unseen, we sold our home in New York, called the commercial movers and headed for Texas. Neither of us had a job, but we were young and ready to take on the world.
DG: What is your history with Cooper Valves?
GR: As explained, it was one of the companies we at that small International Manufacturing were making valves for. My boss at IM was on the board of Fluidics and Fluidics Corp. — run by his brother Bill Wayne, who was the owner of Cooper Valves. So, very early in my valve career, I was making valves for Cooper Valves at our manufacturing site that we owned in Monterrey Mexico. Little did I know at the time that one day I would be president of that company.
DG: In your time as president of Cooper Valves, what have you seen as a significant change (for better or worse) in the industry?
GR: I have witnessed three major downturns over my career, and the last one — that began in the end of 2015 — has been the longest. Secondly, I have seen at least two to three times during my career that the industry has gone through such contractions that a lot of the experienced and knowledgeable persons in the industry, from end user to EPC to distributor, have been faced with a lack of experienced personnel to take up the slack. That is one of the reasons we at the PVF Roundtable are interested in trying to help save our collective industry by reaching out to the next generation to get them interested — and the reason we work so hard to collect/raise money for the scholarships we fund. All of the industry suffers when the ones left to pick up the pieces are ill-equipped and lack the knowledge or experience to do so — through no fault of their own except for their youth.
DG: In your opinion, what does the future of the overall PVF market look like? (with regard to recent legislations and bylaws).
GR: In my personal opinion, I believe that oil will probably not return to the dizzying heights it was before the fall of 2015. I also believe that oil will NOT go away, but I don’t believe we will see the capital money and efforts for the mega projects that we previously saw just a few years ago. I believe that maintenance will stay strong and will need to keep us all going. The rollback of the EPA rules and the freeing of the coal industry will probably not really do much at this time. The industry had already begun to move into the natural gas market and the majority of new power plants that were on the drawing boards were/are natural gas fired. The biggest boost in our region was/is coming from chemical plants that were designed to run on cheap, easily available shale gas. Even if we all suddenly were to drive electric cars, we still have to produce power to charge them, and we will still need chemicals and plastics for a host of other products and processes. Burning coal to produce that power actually increases our carbon footprint – not decreases it. So, coal is probably not going to again be the product of choice for the power industry. But I think the days of new large refining plants may be behind us. We just may not be building those big behemoths we did in the past. Next to chemicals, I see the brightest spot as LNG. Still a lot of opportunities there – maybe a few years off.
As for the environmental factors, I think we should all be mindful that we only have one planet and nowhere to go if we kill this one. It is incumbent upon us to do our best to balance our current needs with our children’s and grandchildren’s needs and health. We are all in this together. I am hopeful that sane minds with well-thought-out plans will prevail. We cannot collectively say, “Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead!” any more than we can stop all forward progress in our industry and economy and everyone just “go smell the daises.” Somewhere, there must be reason and sane thought.
DG: Let’s talk about Cooper Valve’s involvement with the PVF Roundtable. How has the organization been a resource for you and the business?
GR: It is a great networking organization. It keeps you in touch with the industry as a whole and your peers. We reach out to each other when we need help. Most of us are not shy about asking either.
DG: What aspect of the PVF Roundtable do you find most rewarding?
GR: Making a difference. If you think about it, the PVF Roundtable is one of the largest industry focused, networking face-to-face organizations in this country. Here you make friends for a lifetime. You just need to show up and get involved!
DG: How has networking at the meetings every quarter paid off?
GR: By staying informed and up to date. We have seen a huge shift in employment in this last downturn. People are moving from company to company and to keep up you have to show up!
DG: What are some short and long-term goals of the PVF Roundtable?
GR: Of course, a long-term, long-standing goal is to always raise more industry awareness, increase membership, and make a difference in the future of these young people we are trying to help thru scholarships.
DG: With recent natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, how does the PVF Roundtable provide resources to those affected or who want to help?
GR: Unfortunately, many of our members have had to deal with some personal struggles. However, we have not yet made a formal path forward. I think at our next board meeting, we will discuss various options. Most of us have made personal donations to various organizations such as Red Cross, Houston Food Bank, JJ Watt fund, etc.
DG: What are the core values the PVF Roundtable possesses that align with Cooper Valves?
GR: To always strive to do your best in whatever you are doing. And to not intentionally harm anyone, but rather to try and help and guide others who may not be as fortunate as yourself. What we strived for at Cooper was to have the best valve in the world – to be bullet proof. And not for the sake of the market share, but to know we were making a product that was as safe and reliable as humanly possible. Do no harm.
DG: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out in the industry?
GR: To join the PVF Roundtable, and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for guidance from some of us who are now in the twilight of our careers. We have a lifetime of experience you can learn from. And, in the words of my old boss, “don’t be a victim.” You may not yet have all of the answers, but with perseverance and hard work, you can succeed.
Never stop learning. School is a lifelong process. Just don’t be afraid. You will win some; you will lose some – but you have to be in the game to win the game.
Read, understand your product top to bottom, and talk to others. And for heaven’s sake, know your products industry specifications and stay abreast of all of the changes and/or coming changes. This industry has changed a lot through the years, and it is up to you to know what those changes are and how it will affect your product, your company, your job. So read!
I must say, this industry gets in your blood like a disease, and there is no vaccination – no cure. It grabs you and almost never lets go. It is fast paced, rewarding, interesting and full of interesting people. So, just do It! But try to remember to reach out and help others along your way.
DG: You were one of the first woman to work in the PVF industry and there weren’t many in those years. You must be delighted with the participation of women today and specifically within the Roundtable.
GR: Absolutely, I am! It is great to see so many women now in our industry.
Ever year and every meeting, I see more and more. And most are on a path/trajectory to be the next of our leaders. I am so very proud of them all. A lot of them are already extremely advanced. We are also seeing more women on the PVF Roundtable Board. When I first started, it was mostly a male dominated meeting. Now, I think we may be approaching equilibrium.
I am now spending my time also on the Board of the Advanced Manufacturing for Houston Community College. This new specialty college was designed to assist young men and women seeking a skilled “trades” position in our industry. I am proud to say that the PVF Roundtable has included HCC in the scholarship pool this year.
In conclusion, we try to do good work. We strive to make a difference and make this a better place for all. 2
Please note: Platform Management, LLC, which owned Cooper Valves, LLC, sold Cooper Valves to Forum Energy Technologies in January 2017. Therefore, I am no longer with Cooper Valves. Platform Management (which I am still with) also had other interests including a software company in California that specializes in emergency response to unexpected chemical releases at large plants. That company is Safer Systems. www.safersystem.com.