Skip Bruce, President/Owner, Catawba Industrial Rubber Company Inc.
NAHAD: How was 2010 for Catawba Industrial Rubber Company, and what is the outlook for the rest of 2011?
Skip Bruce: In 2010, we were up slightly about 7 or 8 percent over 2009. Of course, 2009 was our low point, which was the case for a lot of businesses. As far as 2011, our first quarter was tremendous. We went gangbusters. I am anticipating 2011 will be better than 2010.
NAHAD: Which markets for the company are strong and which are weak? What impact does this have on your business?
Bruce: NASCAR has been very strong. Construction is still slow and has been for two or three years. NASCAR has been a longtime client. We're right in the heart of NASCAR country and a lot of teams are based here. We've been serving that market for many years. Construction is weak, but our MRO business seems to have picked up. That's our main type of business. We do not serve a lot of OEMs.
NAHAD: What benefits does the association offer members? How has membership with the association benefitted Catawba?
Bruce: We've been longtime members of NAHAD. The founder of our company, George W. Carver, was instrumental in the founding of NAHAD. George was the third president of NAHAD. We've been a member since the beginning and watched it grow from that point on. It is a tremendous organization for our industry. It provides education and the meetings are a great way to network with key executives in the industry. Also the programs, such as the Hose Safety Institute, are a big contribution.
NAHAD: You recently became a member of the association's board. Why did you want to join?
Bruce: They've been asking me for some time. The fact that George Carver, founder of our company, had always instilled knowledge in me and would have wanted me to become more involved in the association was the instigation for me to do this. There are a lot of good board members, and I knew quite a few of them ahead of time. I was appointed to the membership committee. We're charged with growing the membership and trying to retain as many members as possible.
NAHAD: What do you hope to accomplish while on the committee?
Bruce: Our strategic plan says we need to grow distributor membership by 11 percent in 2011, but, as a matter of fact, I think that's already been achieved. But we hope to grow it from there and retain as many members as possible. It's difficult in this mergers and acquisition environment that the industry is undergoing. Based on what we saw before the convention, people are interested in membership.
NAHAD: What time commitment is required as a board member?
Bruce: We have two official board meetings. We've got one at the annual convention, which I just attended. We have another NAHAD board meeting mid-year where we meet, normally in the location of the next annual convention. Other business will be handled on conference calls or via e-mail. We've got six official members of the membership committee and, in addition, we have some regional captains from different areas of the country that are NAHAD volunteers.
NAHAD: What are you looking forward to?
Bruce: I'm looking forward to getting to know the other board members more and learning from them. There's a lot of knowledge in the room of the NAHAD board.
NAHAD: What is your background in the industry? How long have you been working in it, and how did you get to where you are now?
Bruce: I've been in the industry more than 27 years. I started working for Catawba Rubber when I was in high school in 1978. I went to work for Carver in the warehouse shop, cutting and coupling hose and shipping and receiving materials. I started right on the shop floor. While studying accounting and finance in college in 1984, Carver asked if I was interested in coming back to work inside sales and work in the accounting department. I completed my degree at night while working here full-time since 1984. In 1999, after a series of events, I was given the opportunity and was able to purchase Catawba from Carver. It's been a great experience.
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