Originally, Bruce Carnevale had no intention of working at Ambler, Pa.-based water-heater manufacturer Bradford White.
“I was guilted into it,” he said with a laugh. “I was working for a big chemical company out of Chicago and my father (A. Robert Carnevale) was looking for someone who could do engineering sales and product development internationally for Bradford White. He asked and I said I really didn’t want to be the boss’ son — I was doing well on my own. He asked a third and fourth time and then asked me what was going to happen with my next promotion at the chemical company. I said I would have to move to Chicago. Being the Italian father he is, he said I was going to break my mother’s heart and send my grandmother to my grave if I moved. That’s why I’m at Bradford White. Outside of my family it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. My dad was right. It was the right thing to do.”
Carnevale, who joined the company in 1996, sat down with Supply House Times at the American Supply Association’s NETWORK2017 in Nashville after being named the recipient of the ASA Plumbing Division’s Award of Excellence. He reflected on his career, Bradford White’s evolution and the importance of volunteer leadership.
“It’s an honor to receive the award,” he said. “I’m humbled to be considered in the company of the past recipients who are industry icons.”
Carnevale, now Bradford White’s president and COO after a recent promotion, has an extensive history of volunteering in a number of capacities within ASA.
“It’s a great industry with a great future, but we don’t necessarily do a good job of promoting it as much as we should,” he said. “We kind of take it for granted that the industry is going to continue as it always has. The pace of change is so fast now that we must get ahead of it. ASA has done a great job providing the tools to help make its members that much better and adaptable to changes. We must get more people involved in the industry at all levels and that’s the challenge right now. How do we get the message out to the people who aren’t at NETWORK, who aren’t actively involved in the industry?”
That extends, he added, to government affairs advocacy. “The message is a lot of people don’t get involved because they think nothing is going to change (at the government level),” Carnevale said. “Being actively involved in government affairs at ASA and also with our business and other groups, we can effect change. We’ve been able to get the government to change their position, modify it or at least talk to us and voice our opinions on how it is going to affect topics such as job creation and growth relating to American manufacturing. The expectation that nothing gets done is not accurate. It does take time and effort, but you can effect change if there is a healthy and constant presence in front of our government.”
Carnevale has seen Bradford White morph from a smaller family-owned business to one that now does business on a world scope. “We are a larger company now but still have that small-company, family feel,” he said. “We care about our customers and employees. We care about the industry and are vested in the success of all our partners. We don’t always do the right thing or make the right decisions, no company does, but they know in their hearts we have their best interests in mind with our actions.”
Carnevale feels the PHCP-PVF industry, for the most part, is in good shape moving forward, but stresses those throughout the supply chain must remain vigilant. “I do have some concerns moving forward because the pace of change is so fast,” he said. “Some could get left behind if we don’t get ahead of the change and do the things we need to in order to compete with new nontraditional competitors. It’s nice to see a lot of people here at NETWORK embracing change.”
This article was originally titled “Giving back to the industry” in the November 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.