Sean McClenaghan took over as president and CEO of Reliance Worldwide Corp., parent company of the SharkBite, HOLDRITE and Cash Acme brands, in 2014. In this month’s Q&A, McClenaghan discusses the company’s growth, industry and product trends, and company goals for 2019.
PM: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got into the industry?
SM: I have always been drawn to manufacturing businesses that are unique in their industry with the opportunity to do something special. This is what attracted me to RWC. Through a former colleague, I was fortunate enough to meet and work with RWC’s senior management, including our current Group CEO, Heath Sharp. It was this interaction and Heath’s vision and passion that drew me to RWC and the fantastic team that comprises our business.
PM: How has the company changed in the past four years?
SM: From the time that RWC entered the North American market in 2002, nothing has stood still for long. The Americas business has enjoyed significant annual growth over this 16-year period. While the majority of this growth has been organic, we have also been more acquisitive in recent years investing in key areas strategically. Over the last four years, the company has continued to evolve by extending its innovative product offering in our primary R&M end-use market, introducing products specifically designed for other end-use markets, investing in additional manufacturing and distribution capabilities in the Americas, and building the leading team in the industry.
PM: What are some of the latest trends in push-to-connect fittings and PEX products, and how is RWC staying on top of these trends?
SM: There are several key trends that 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 use plumbers and engineers.
PM: How does RWC work with its customers when designing its products, and how do things like efficiency and ergonomics play into product design?
SM: Your question hits at the heart of what we do. Spending time with the plumber and mechanical contractor and partnering with them on methods and solutions that help them run better businesses is what we are about. Look no further than our HOLDRITE tagline, “Converting makeshift methods into engineered solutions.” Understanding the plumber’s perspective is in our DNA, and retaining a plumber’s perspective has remained our strategic competitive advantage. RWC understands the value of our product offering comes from constantly providing innovative product solutions to the plumbing industry.
PM: SharkBite and RWC recently sponsored a PHCC plumbing apprentice contestant during the CONNECT conference — why make that investment?
SM: It’s important that manufacturers like ourselves invest in the next generation of skilled craftsmen because it’s an investment in the future of our industry. We supply materials for the apprentice contest, and we send one of our on-staff master plumbers to judge the contest and provide feedback and guidance to contestants. Beyond the PHCC National Plumbing Apprentice Contest, we sponsor numerous state and regional apprenticeship contests around the country every year.
PM: What are some things we can expect to see from RWC in the near future, and what are your longer-term goals?
SM: RWC looks to provide smart plumbing and heating solutions that enhance end-user productivity and efficiency. Core to what we do is listening to our customers and end users in the markets in which we operate.