State Of Kitchen/Bath Industry Is Excellent: Ferguson COO Ferguson Enterprises COO Kevin Murphy declared the state of the kitchen-and-bath industry is excellent, citing a projected 3.25% growth in gross domestic product, falling unemployment and an upward trend in consumer confidence in his speech Jan. 21 during Design & Construction week in Las Vegas. In giving the National Kitchen & Bath Association State of the Industry address, Murphy followed in the footsteps of plumbing company executives such as David Lingafelter, president of Moen, and Michael Werner, CEO of Globe Union Group. Murphy alluded to Werner who said in his 2012 speech: "Our future is starting to look very bright. In fact, I project that your 2015 speaker will say the words: 'The state of our industry is excellent.'" Murphy, whose company ranked No. 1 in Supply House Times' 2014 Premier 150 listing of the nation's largest distributors of plumbing and piping products with 20,000 employees, 1,400 locations nationwide and $11.6 billion in total sales ($2 billion online), also quoted a number of Ferguson's builder and remodeler customers in his speech. They say they are "quite busy" and "growing at an exponential rate." The age of existing homes is helping to drive the remodeling market, he said. The average age of houses was 35 years in 2011 compared with 23 years in 1985. A number of factors are driving home building: demand for second homes; immigration; replacement of existing homes; and household growth. Having sufficient labor to meet accelerating construction activity is an industry wide concern. Murphy said the "heart of the business is people development." "We need to create an environment that creates a career - not just a job," he said. "People development is critical to a company's growth and success." He cited strong employee development programs, a multichannel experience and the need to embrace the changing expectation of customers as today's key opportunities for innovative businesses. He also cautioned audience members that "change is the new normal" and to "fear the status quo." Today's consumers are more empowered and informed - enabled by technology, he said, noting that 36% of projected e-commerce sales will come via mobile devices. Consumer expectations are changing as well. He said the factors driving this change include the availability of information on-demand and the desire for a personalized experience. "Smartphone's [which enjoy a 103% market penetration] are controlling our lives. They're enabling the consumer," he said. "The consumer is absolutely engaged with information on demand. The personalized experience is here to stay. Consumers demand transparency because of their access to information on demand. You've got to be ready to explain the value of purchasing your product." Murphy said personalized, multichannel experiences will continue to be an important part of the sales equation moving forward. He said the "Internet of everything," the online dimensions of people, process and data coming together in cyberspace to provide the modern purchasing experience, will generate some $14.4 trillion in value over the next decade. "We have to approach our business to use technology to drive productivity to take care of our customers," Murphy said. - Jack Sweet Videos feature products shown at 2015 AHR Expo Supply House Times columnist, author and educator Dan Holohan talked on camera with exhibitors about their products on display at the AHR Expo Jan. 26-28 in Chicago. Visit www.SupplyHT.com or www.RadiantandHydronics.com to view the videos. The videos also are available at www.PMMag.com, www.ReevesJournal.com and www.PMEngineer.com. No registration or fee is required for viewing. Featured in the videos are products from the following companies: Armstrong Fluid Technology, ECR International, REHAU, Navien and Uponor. General Pipe Cleaners celebrates 85th anniversary General Pipe Cleaners is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year. The thirdgeneration, family-owned company features a full line of advanced drain-cleaning products, including sewer and drain cleaners, water and trailer jets, video inspection systems, water leak locators, pipe freeze kits, pipe thawing machines, as well as copper and plastic tubing cutters. Pictured, from left, are: Mike Silverman, Jeff Silverman, Steve Glick, Steve Silverman, Art Silverman, Marty Silverman, Bob Silverman, Lee Silverman and David Silverman. WinWholesale announces robust 2014 performance WinWholesale, which has 560 locations in 45 states, announced it registered low-teens growth during fiscal 2014. It also opened eight new companies and acquired Wyatt Irrigation and Carr Supply during the fiscal year. "We had a fantastic year," WinWholesale Vice President of Marketing Steve Edwards told Supply House Times. "It all starts with the people we have in the organization. They are hard-working. We also recruited a lot of good young people. We opened new locations and our recent acquisitions performed real well. To use the old cliché, we had all cylinders firing." Edwards said the company will keep an eye out for possible acquisitions going forward, but is focusing on making 2015 an equally stellar year. "We will continue to stay exactly to our core philosophy of offering hard-working people the ability to own a piece of their own business," he said. "We'l l provide back-office support and consulting services and allow the distributor to focus on customers and support the message of creating loyal and profitable customer relationships." In other company news, WinWholesale named Rick McCann vice president, supply chain and logistics, Sourcing Services and Matt Newcomer director of talent acquisition and succession planning. McCann previously worked at Exel, a global logistics division of Deutsche Post DHL. Newcomer most recently was at Dubois Chemicals in Cincinnati. Ferguson announces fishing sponsorships Ferguson recently announced two key partnerships for 2015 with Major League Fishing. Ferguson is a 2015 sponsor of Major League Fishing, a popular bass fishing tournament series that takes place throughout the country. Ferguson also is partnering with Scott Ashmore, Bassmaster Elite Series contender and 2014 Major League Fishing Selects Survival Round winner, continuing its long-standing relationship with the professional angler. As part of the partnership, Ashmore attends several Ferguson Rewards bass fishing events at Bienville Bass Plantation in White Springs, Fla. Ferguson customers, associates and vendors have the opportunity to fish alongside Ashmore during the event, which takes place six times each year. Ferguson said it chose to sponsor Major League Fishing and Ashmore because they align with its trade customer base. This is the company's first year sponsoring MLF and its fourth year partnering with Ashmore. AD members pass $30 billion mark Affiliated Distributors reported record sales in 2014. Sales for all AD members across all divisions and countries grew by 9% to $31.2 billion. "AD members achieved above-market growth in 2014, opened 83 locations, made 23 acquisitions and hired 2,180 new employees," AD Chairman and CEO Bill Weisberg said. "On top of that, we added 30 new members, 40 new suppliers, expanded into Mexico, introduced new programs, expanded our service set and upgraded our systems and reporting. 2014 was a record year." By division, AD member 2014 same-store sales grew as follows: U.S. Electrical up 8%; Canadian Electrical up 9%; Industrial up 5%; Plumbing and PVF up 8%; HVAC up 9%; and Building Materials up 16%. APR Supply announces Westinghouse addition Lebanon, Pa.-based APR Supply announced it will migrate from the Tappan HVAC to the Westinghouse HVAC product line in 2015. The Westinghouse brand, which has a 125-yearplus history in the Northeast region, has roots specifically in Pennsylvania, making it an ideal fit for APR customers, the distributor said. Besides a complete line of residential HVAC equipment, the Westinghouse brand is active in the consumer and industrial markets from television to large industrial motors. APR offers the Westinghouse brand throughout all of its 32 branch locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Westinghouse equipment will be on display April 9 at the annual APR Dealer Meeting and Product Show at the Hollywood Casino/Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa. Embassy buying group welcomes new member As part of an ongoing effort to expand its Waterworks Division, Embassy Group recently announced it has added Michigan Pipe & Valve of Jackson, Mich., to its member roster. Michigan Pipe & Valve has five locations in Michigan and will be adding a new branch in 2015. "We are excited to have added this fine organization to the group as we continue to enhance our newly formed Waterworks Division with industry-leading distributors and vendors," Embassy President Mike Lepley said. Embassy launched its Waterworks Division in 2014 and has been deliberate in its approach to the new division, the buying group added. "We recognize we are in the infancy of this new division, but we see only great opportunities for our members and vendor partners," Lepley said. American Standard names new COO American Standard Brands recently announced the appointment of Michael Marchi to the newly created role of chief operating officer, effective March 2. Marchi brings more than 30 years of experience to the position with the majority of it in the building products industry. Prior to joining American Standard, he served as president and CEO of Amerock Hardware. Marchi will be directly responsible for all American Standard Brands customer markets in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, including retail and wholesale. He also will support supply chain and manufacturing operations for the plumbing products manufacturer. "With his expertise in the building products and plumbing industry, along with his Grohe experience, Mike will be an incredible asset to our company," American Standard Brands Acting CEO Steve Delarge said. Uponor expands Minnesota facility Beginning in late spring 2015, Uponor North America is expanding its manufacturing facility in Apple Valley, Minn., with completion expected by Dec. 1. The $18 million investment will be used toward the renovation and expansion of an additional 88,000 sq. ft. To accommodate lean manufacturing and office space, as well as additional manufacturing equipment that is required.
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