In February, it was announced that United Pipe & Steel (UPS) and Merifish Pipe & Supply (MPS) are combining under Merfish Pipe Holdings (MPH), an entity with majority ownership by One Equity Partners (OEP).
UPS CEO Greg Leidner will assume the role of CEO of MPH. Current MPS CEO Gerald Merfish was named as the chairman of MPH. Merfish remains an investor in MPH and Leidner also has invested in MPH with OEP.
In a release sent out on the partnership, Merifish was excited by the opportunity of the merger of the companies as they will compliment inventories. MPS is a master distributor of carbon-steel welded and seamless pipe; UPS a master distributor of carbon-steel standard pipe, copper tube and more. The news release appears in the PVF News section of this magazine, and as Merfish explained, “Our new partnership with UPS is synergistic and will create the largest master distributor of standard pipe products in the United States.”
We wanted to hear more about the combining of forces and spoke with Leidner on the venture.
Ruth Mitchell: When did the idea come about to combine the two companies and how long has this been planned?
Greg Leidner: Gerald Merfish and I have been in discussions about bringing our two organizations together for years. They share a similar culture and core values, and bring complementary capabilities to the wholesale master distribution customer base. The Merfish organization brings deep experience in distributing a broad array of welded and seamless carbon-steel pipe from mills around the world and has cemented its position as the leading master distributor of standard pipe in the United States. It has cultivated an extremely loyal set of customer relationships in the nearly 100 years it has been in business.
United Pipe & Steel’s capabilities are grounded in domestically sourced products and the notion that wholesalers can combine multiple pipe product categories (copper tube, steel pipe, PVC pipe, strut, threaded rod and conduit) in one purchase order and quickly receive material on more than 250-per-week dedicated delivery routes. Both organizations offer a “just-in-time” replenishment model which adds value to wholesalers by improving their cash flow, maintaining high fill rates and minimizing their exposure to commodity swings.
RM: How do the benefits and services of UPS and MPS companies complement one another?
GL: The merger makes sense for both companies quite simply because it makes sense for the three constituents that matter. First and foremost are the wholesale customers, who will be able to access a considerably broader array of pipe products from one supplier with deep inventory levels. Secondly are the employees of the company, who will have more professional growth opportunities as they are now part of a much larger and more complex organization.
Finally, this will have meaningfully positive implications for the company’s suppliers, who will be able to reach an even larger portion of wholesalers through the combined entity’s larger footprint, bigger fleet and stronger capabilities to distribute pipe and related products.
RM: Will the companies now operate under the name of Merfish Pipe Holdings?
GL: There won’t be a name change at this time. Merfish Pipe Holdings own both United Pipe & Steel and Merfish Pipe & Supply and we will work closely together. However, for now, we will go to market separately. We will be utilizing the best practices from both organizations as we look for ways to enhance value for customers, employees and suppliers.
RM: Please share with our readers the most important reasons for the merger.
GL: Both Merfish and United Pipe share a common set of core values, including high integrity, quality customer service, commitment to the wholesale channel, strong relationships with vendors and customers and positive work environments. Combining these values and our complementary product portfolio makes sense to further cement our customer relationships and increase our presence in the market.
RM: What are the major benefits the merger will bring to the supply chain?
GL: We believe this merger will have a meaningfully positive impact for customers, enhancing the basket of products they can secure today from either company.
RM: How does the merger answer and fulfill market needs?
GL: Wholesalers are drawn to the extraordinary financial benefits that master distribution provides. The ability to simplify purchasing, reduce risk and improve working capital are extremely compelling reasons wholesalers are sourcing more and more material through master distributors.
RM: What is the strategic plan moving forward?
GL: With 17 locations around the country and a fleet of 65 vehicles, we touch nearly every geographic region in the United States at least once per week and the major metro areas (Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, etc.) at least twice per week. We assembled a top-notch group of employees across every aspect of the organization — whether they are dealing with our drivers, our forklift operators, our credit department or our salespeople, customers will find our employees to be knowledgeable, professional and service-oriented.
We are focused on utilizing technology to create an efficient operation and to enhance our touchpoints with customers but not to the point that it takes away from human interaction. After all, this has always been and will always be a relationship business. Stay tuned as we add products to our already-broad portfolio.