PM Profile: HOLDRITE's Tim McConnell
As market conditions change, business leaders should look for strategic competitive advantages
Plumbing & Mechanical last month interviewed HOLDRITE President and CEO Tim McConnell. He has worked at HOLDRITE in various roles since joining the company 19 years ago. HOLDRITE designs, manufactures and sells rough-in plumbing products installed by mechanical and plumbing contractors, specified by engineers and sold through distribution channels for use in residential and commercial construction. Products include pipe and equipment support systems, acoustical plumbing solutions, water heater accessories, drain, waste and vent solutions and firestop-sleeving systems.
PM: In what U.S. market sectors do you see opportunities for plumbing and mechanical contractors in the next 12 months?
TM: Geographically, we’re seeing double-digit growth in residential building construction and steady single-digit growth in commercial building construction. We use two types of data to track building construction activity: our in-house job-tracking team’s research and third-party industry reports and data. Both sources continue to suggest strong growth in multifamily housing, hotel and education construction.
The greater variety of materials used in piping systems — especially a marked increase in plastic piping — means contractors and engineers who can develop the skill sets needed to install and specify these systems in different building construction sectors will be highly sought after.
PM: Are you seeing geographic areas around the country where construction is particularly strong?
TM: Nationally, we’re seeing more tail winds than head winds in the U.S. building construction market. Coastal areas, such as California, Texas and Florida, are particular hot spots.
PM: How will HOLDRITE help contractors take advantage of market opportunities?
TM: As contractors and engineers change piping materials in projects, they will experience pain points as they figure out the best ways to support and align these piping systems. These pain points are opportunities for HOLDRITE to provide our expertise on how best to support systems like PEX, CPVC and copper. For example, a contractor converting from a copper piping system to a PEX tubing system on a hotel project can ask HOLDRITE how to support PEX tubing when running through concrete slabs, or the ideal approach to support PEX tubing during a shower installation. Our team is always excited to provide solutions to these types of challenges.
Furthermore, we provide a no-charge VIP Services program that provides product recommendations, take-offs, and assistance with estimating and specifications within 10 day days based on actual construction plans. We also offer a detailed BIM information library on our website to assist on projects.
PM: What trends are you seeing in the plumbing and mechanical industry?
TM: Along with the increased market share of plastic tubing, such as PVC, ABS, PEX and CPVC, how the industry uses technology is changing. Contractors and engineers are integrating mobile devices and software into their working processes more and more. This includes tablets and smartphones, and innovative software such as building information modeling.
As a manufacturer, technology offers us an interconnected marketing approach, which coordinates digital, online, print and website resources, and, ultimately, helps us communicate with our customers more effectively. By embracing these advances in technology, we provide a more targeted approach on the precise products and services our customers require. For example, the HOLDRITE product installation animations on www.holdrite.com and the HOLDRITE BIM library make it easier for contractors, distributors and engineers to understand our product solution in minutes.
PM: What innovations can contractors expect to see from HOLDRITE in the next 12 months?
TM: Over the next 12 months, HOLDRITE will be launching more innovative product categories than ever before in the company’s history. These products are game changers, poised to transform plumbing methodology in North America. We recently launched several new product categories aimed at giving contractors maximum flexibility. These new products do not depend on the material type of the pipe being used, and, because most of the products are universal, their use is not limited by the building construction sector.
One such product category, the HOLDRITE ProGuard system, a pipe support platform that can be used with PEX, copper, or CPVC tubing, gives contractors a shop standard for both residential and commercial projects. Our recently released TESTRITE product category provides DWV testing with a safe, dry and fast solution, whether the system is PVC, ABS or cast iron. These solutions provide contractors much needed versatility in tackling the difficulties of new plumbing trends.
PM: What factors led HOLDRITE to move to larger offices in California and expand your facilities in Tennessee?
TM: HOLDRITE’s geographic footprint is rapidly expanding because of our commitment to developing innovative new products. In order to better execute our growth strategies, we recently moved into a new location in San Diego County, Calif. This new space fosters “design thinking” and facilitates a collaborative environment among our engineering, product development, finance and marketing groups. This approach lets our team integrate customers’ needs, the possibilities of technology and our business requirements with a laser focus on innovative, solutions-based products.
Our factory expansion project will be completed in 2015 Q4, allowing our HOLDRITE operations group to expand production capabilities and improve efficiencies with new technologies.
PM: Why is it important for HOLDRITE to get involved in industry organizations such as Mechanical Contractors Association of America and American Society of Plumbing Engineers?
TM: MCAA and ASPE are great opportunities for HOLDRITE associates to obtain greater insight and understanding of the contracting and engineering community. These organizations help us gain insight into our customers’ perspective, develop long-term relationships, anticipate industry trends and understand regional differences. In short, our membership in organizations like MCAA and ASPE helps us provide better products and services that solve real problems.
PM: In what new ways is HOLDRITE connecting with contractors and engineers?
TM: To complement our VIP Services, we created four new courses that offer ASPE continuing education credits. Topics for these webinars include “Firestopping Systems,” “Pipe Support and Restraints,” “Pipe Hangers and Supports” and “Plumbing Acoustic Isolation.”
PM: What do you see as HOLDRITE’s most distinguishing feature?
TM: Our defining strategy is “converting makeshift methods into engineered solutions.” That means our primary competition is a block of wood. We, on the other hand, have a dynamic team of associates constantly designing, developing and manufacturing novel products. Our team strives to create more value for the plumbing industry than we capture. We want to create professional, easy-to-install products to make contractors’ lives easier.
For engineers, we create higher-quality products without increasing costs. For distributors, we want to create innovative products with new revenue streams. We benefit by developing products that make other manufacturers’ products perform better. Ultimately, we create value for the plumbing industry by producing unique HOLDRITE products and services.
PM: If you had one piece of business advice to give to contractors, what would it be?
TM: Technology and disruptive innovation are transforming industries and creating global economies. Companies that want to grow faster than the market must not only rely on driving down costs, but must view change as an opportunity to innovate.