Earlier this year, Leonard Valve announced David Brakenwagen as its new chief executive officer. PM Chief Editor Nicole Krawcke had a chance to chat with the new CEO and discuss his priorities and goals in his new role, as well as the future of the PVF market.
PM: Tell me a little about your background and how you got your start in the industry?
DB: I am new to the specific plumbing industry, but I have worked many years in the industrial/industrial automation market. There are many synergies across these markets and intersecting technologies applicable to the plumbing industry. My career started as an electrical engineer for ABB Industrial Systems. My career path has taken me through various functional leadership roles within many industrial and medical focused companies. My background is diverse; leading organizations of large public companies and small privately held companies, and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities within this industry.
PM: When and why did you join Leonard Valve?
DB: My role at Leonard Valve started at the end of 2020. The company presented a terrific opportunity for me to join an industry leader that pioneered solutions to provide safe and environmentally friendly water temperature control solutions. I learned that Leonard continues to work progressively in new product solutions and am privileged to continue that journey to lead a terrific company within a dynamic industry.
PM: What has been your largest professional achievement to date?
DB: I’ve led many businesses through transformations and during these tenures have had the ability to work with many accomplished professionals. While there are many professional successes, the greatest achievements for me are the ones where we have built winning teams that collectively accomplished great things. Many leaders on my teams have moved into CEO and senior executive positions in various industries and feel these are high on my list of achievements.
PM: What is the No. 1 thing you hope to accomplish as Leonard Valve’s CEO?
DB: I believe Leonard Valve has the opportunity to continue being an innovative leader and hope to accomplish improving the safety and well-being for all people in our society. We can accomplish this with our myriad of thermostatic mixing valve solutions and integrating these products across many applications.
PM: Why does Leonard Valve continue to succeed and thrive as a company?
DB: Leonard has a unique ability to provide differentiated solutions for various market applications and dynamics. As a pioneer in mixing valve technology, Leonard continues to be empathetic to the various market and compliance needs as it is our responsibility to advance our product offerings and solutions that allow for safer and healthier environments within our lives.
PM: What would you point to as the biggest change or shift in the company that has been made in the last year to further grow its business and best serve customers?
DB: Leonard, like many companies, has pivoted in many areas throughout the business climate due to the macro issues associated with the pandemic. We have adopted various creative ways to keep connected with our customers. Also, the adoption of electronic mixing valve technology has increased. As a result, we have added additional features to these products which allow our customers improved benefits in working with various building management systems. We have also upgraded our informational tools that afford customers additional access to product design, specifications and technical data.
PM: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the company, and what has Leonard Valve done to minimize its impact?
DB: Leonard responded early to the pandemic to ensure the safety and health of our workforce, suppliers and customers. While doing so, we made adjustments within our factories to ensure compliance and modified our workforce and operating shifts accordingly. We did see some market demand softening in some areas but we also saw some increase demand in some product categories as a result of more hands free requirements due to COVID-19.
PM: Where do you see the market heading over the next five years, and how is the company preparing for it?
DB: There are many market dynamics in play and I see the continuation of health and safety being at the forefront. This theme will be an underlying factor as products such as the mixing valve will be part of an electronic ecosystem that will be integrated in the industry for improved performance and safety within building designs. We continue to look at technologies that will support these shifts.
PM: What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?
DB: When I was young, I always wanted to be a construction worker as I was always intrigued watching houses and buildings being built. I’ve always liked building things whether it was a Lego set as a kid or furniture from Ikea.