There have been many changes at Reliance Worldwide Corp. (RWC). From the acquisitions of HOLDRITE and John Guest, RWC provides a variety of innovation in the industry. We sat down with Sean McClenaghan, president and CEO of RWC Americas, to discuss his focus, the enhancement of RWC through acquisitions and its key issues to tackle.
The Wholesaler: Tell me about the RWC — how many locations and employees does it have?
Sean McClenaghan: RWC has more than 2,300 employees globally, operates 15 manufacturing facilities, 24 distribution centers and five research and development locations. In the Americas, we have more than 600 team members that operate in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Our factories are located in La Vergne, Tenn., and Cullman, Ala. We also have distribution capability in Las Vegas, Parsippany, N.J., and Vaughan, Ontario, Canada.
Our innovation and sales centers are located in San Diego and Atlanta. Our field-based manufacturer representatives, factory sales team and training personnel are located across the Americas to support the needs of our wholesalers and end users.
TW: What product areas do you carry?
SM: In the Americas, we carry a broad and robust breadth of products and solutions designed to serve the needs of plumbers and mechanical contractors. From the meter on the street to the finished plumbing, we provide a differentiated offering. And, in many instances, we have created or commercialized categories of products in our sector.
Our offering includes: our core potable water fitting lines consisting of SharkBite, JG ProLock, EvoPEX and SpeedFit push-to-connect fittings; HOLDRITE HydroFlame Pro firestop solutions, acoustical isolation, pipe supports and water heater accessories; Cash Acme thermostatic mixing valves, pressure relief valves, and temperature and pressure relief valves; Streamlabs smart home leak detection devices; and TESTRITE drain, waste and vent solutions.
TW: Please give us a snapshot of your history with RWC.
SM: I joined RWC four years ago and have held the same role since then. Over that period, we have more than doubled the size of the Americas business. We have driven this growth by continuing our history and track record of innovation, investing in brands that are in-demand by plumbers and mechanical contractors, building out the manufacturing and distribution infrastructure to service the needs of our customers and, most importantly, developing a phenomenal team.
TW: What are your initiatives, both short term and long term?
SM: RWC plans to continue capitalizing on its leadership position in push-to-connect (PTC) fittings and associated accessories. Our core SharkBite brass PTC fittings business is expected to continue to grow at low double digits driven by steady demand among professional plumbers, contractors and other end users. Demand for RWC PTC solutions will be further advanced by the EvoPEX end-to-end rough plumbing systems into new residential wood frame construction. With the acquisition of John Guest, we will extend our leadership position in the PTC category to include additional plastic PTC fittings and accessories.
With the addition of HOLDRITE and its culture of innovation and wide range of true-and-tested original products, we will facilitate growth and expansion into new construction and commercial markets. These areas include large multifamily developments, as well as office, retail, education, hospitality and health care.
RWC will also continue to invest in developing products and technologies that will enable growth beyond traditional plumbing products and systems. These types of solutions combine traditional plumbing and modern technologies to create smart plumbing systems, falling within the smart home automation, remote water monitoring and leak detection areas. These smart plumbing products marketing under Streamlabs in the United States and Canada continue RWC’s mission to positively disrupt the industry by providing the plumbing trade and end users with efficiency, reliability and convenience.
TW: What milestones do you want to hit?
SM: For the Americas, we expect ongoing growth in our core repair and maintenance market, as well as the remodel, commercial and residential new construction segments. As part of our plan, we expect to have the John Guest acquisition fully integrated into our Americas business within the next few months.
TW: Tell me about the RWC’s relationship with wholesale distributors.
SM: A critical part of our strategy is to deliver significant value to our wholesale distribution partners. This is accomplished by innovating and manufacturing branded products that are in demand by end users. Additionally, we foster new growth by creating new categories of products that flow through the wholesale distribution channel. This is supported by our customer service and support that we provide to the channel.
TW: In your LinkedIn profile, you mention that you have a ‘passion for building and transforming businesses through strategy, innovation, operational execution and talent management.’ Describe how you are implementing these touchpoints at RWC.
SM: While I have worked in a number of industries, the one common theme throughout my 30-plus-year career is working with great teams in high-growth, mid-market manufacturing businesses. I have always been drawn to manufacturing businesses that are unique in their industry with the opportunity to do something special.
RWC’s vision and strategy, focus on innovation, the ability to meet the needs of our customers and the quality of the team appealed to me. We also continue to work and improve in these areas every day. By keeping focused on these touchpoints, we will be able to meet the needs of our customers, end users and shareholders.
TW: What changes has RWC gone through in the past year?
SM: Our fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2018, was an extremely busy and successful year for RWC. Year-over-year, we grew 32 percent in the Americas through strong double-digit organic growth and targeted acquisitions. RWC introduced more than 100 new multi-category products this past year, finished our first full year with HOLDRITE as part of our RWC family of brands, and we closed on the John Guest acquisition in June.
TW: How does the acquisition of HOLDRITE add to the RWC brand?
SM: HOLDRITE is an innovator in our industry. Its product range includes engineered pipe support, fire stops and water heater accessories, all of which are well-accepted in the commercial and residential new construction segmentsUnderstanding the plumber’s perspective has always been in its DNA and a key part of its strategic competitive advantage.
This strategy and operating mentality matched perfectly with RWC’s and our 70 years of innovation across the globe. By combining the strengths of RWC and HOLDRITE, we now offer a broader solution to the plumber and mechanical contractor.
TW: How does the John Guest acquisition enhance the company portfolio?
SM: This is a transformational acquisition, which is consistent with our strategy to strengthen RWC’s global presence. One way we continue to increase our global reach is by acquiring businesses that add clever, high-quality engineered products to the existing range and expand our distribution capabilities.
TW: What are some of your key issues to tackle?
SM: Rising input costs have been a meaningful headwind for everyone in the building products industry, and this is something RWC continues to work toward mitigating. Metals, resins, labor, transportation, packaging costs, etc., have been increasing materially over the past 18 months. Tariffs also have been a challenge. But this has impacted only a limited set of our products, as the majority of what we sell is manufactured in-house at RWC factories located in the United States, Australia, the U.K. or Spain.
TW: What innovations in technology do you see on the horizon, and what excites you about this possibility?
SM: Several key trends are shaping and impacting our industry, and we are incorporating these into our growth strategy and solution offering. These trends include the shortage of skilled labor in the plumbing trade, the scarcity and quality of potable water around the world, the need for more information about water usage, the increasing comfort of the plumbing trade with plastic solutions, and the desire to specify and install a complete engineered solution.
We can continue to provide solutions and brands that are in demand by listening to and observing the needs of our customers and end user plumbers and engineers.