Supply House Times caught up with executives from RIDGID and Viega at this year’s AHR Expo in Chicago to talk about the companies’ long-standing relationship in the press fitting and tool spaces. RIDGID Vice President and General Manager of Global Press Connection John Ruese and Viega Vice President of Market Innovations Christian Geisthoff spoke on a variety of subjects, including how the companies jointly develop products, their product and tool training and what the future holds for the relationship. Viega debuted new fittings in its MegaPress XL line in Chicago, while RIDGID displayed its new Press Booster for black steel pipe that works in conjunction with its RP 340 press tool.
What makes the RIDGID-Viega relationship unique?
JR: We design our products jointly and in-person collaboration is a big part of this process. Our design engineers work together and our product marketing and senior product management people sit together when we develop new systems and applications and bring them to market. It’s done from the ground up. From design and testing, to bringing these products to market, we work as one team with one goal. The length of our relationship is a testament to how unique our situation is.
CG: We saw an opportunity to really revolutionize the way pipes are connected, but knew we needed a tool partner to make pressing possible. We partnered with RIDGID because they shared this vision: to innovate and make the professional plumber’s life easier. Working together, we’ve replaced something that needed a torch with a tool.
How are both companies getting the word out to contractors about your relationship and the pressing technology?
CG: We have 150-some people in the field talking to contractors and engineers. Viega does a lot of training on the jobsite. We do a lot of material consultation in the field in terms of demoing and testing what materials should be used for different jobs. Our training center in New England (Nashua, New Hampshire) had 4,500 people come through it last year.
JR: Part of bringing new-to-the-world technology to the marketplace is understanding the pain points contractors have. How do we help them be more efficient and profitable in the jobs they do and at the same time assist in the labor shortage with the training programs we have. We’ll invite Viega team members to come in and talk at our training centers and RIDGID and Viega salespeople work together with contractors on explaining the benefits of our products.
CG: With the labor shortage, we explain to people that this pipe-joining method makes installation faster and safer but it doesn’t take away from your competence as an installer. We are making that joint more consistent and safer, plus educating the contractor on labor savings.
What does the addition of black pipe pressing mean to both companies?
JR: I think beyond what it means to us as a company is what it means to the contractor: we’re delivering efficiency in a way that’s never been possible before. Now a contractor can crimp up to 4-in. black pipe, which can take a long time to weld. In another part of our business we do a lot with threading and roll grooving; this doesn’t replace that method, but it does complement it in applications where you have smaller installations.
CG: Black pipe allows us to reach into new markets and new applications.
Where do you see the RIDGID-Viega relationship headed?
JR: We are in constant development globally, looking at new platforms and features for our tools. Adding smart connectivity is a topic that’s on our radar and something we recently integrated within our compact press tools. We want to give professionals the ability to trace how many crimps are made on a job and understand usage patterns in real time. We have a very long road map that outlines our work with Viega and its senior management on how we’ll accomplish these goals. Ultimately, we want to drive value for the professional.
CG: From a new products perspective, we will continue to look for ways to make the professional’s life on the jobsite more efficient and safer. We have done this together with RIDGID and our history together is laying the foundation for what’s next. We constantly are working to improve our fittings and RIDGID is doing the same with its tools. It doesn’t matter if it’s a RIDGID tool or a Viega fitting, the consistency, quality and innovation are there.
This article was originally titled “The perfect partnership” in the May 2018 print edition of Supply House Times.