Jay D. Gould is ready to go.
As the new president and CEO of American Standard, Gould has been entrusted to lead the company into a growth period. Gould believes his successful tenures with companies such as Coca-Cola, Newell Rubbermaid and The Campbell Soup Co. have groomed him for this new challenge. Being innovative and continuing to evolve are aspects of business Gould finds extremely important. Gould took some time after his recent hiring to talk to Supply House Times about a variety of topics.
Supply House Times: What is the strategic goal for American Standard in 2012?JG: I believe a business has to do three things: deliver our financial commitments, build our competitive advantage in the market and enhance our organization vitality. In 2012, we’ll build the foundation for growth. That starts with renewed customer partnerships in our professional channel and in our retail channel.
Supply House Times: What made you want to be the leader at American Standard?JG: I’ve spent my career creating value by building strong brands and vibrant organizations around the world. American Standard is a truly iconic brand with tremendous potential to re-emerge as the brand of choice for consumers and trade professionals. Over the past four years, the leadership team has done tremendous work integrating several organizations (Eljer, Crane Plumbing, Safety Tubs and Decorative Panels) and improving our supply chain. Now we have the opportunity to drive growth with a more assertive approach to innovation and demand creation.
I also was attracted by Sun Capital Partners’ commitment to American Standard. The economic pressures over the past several years have literally destroyed companies, particularly in the building products industry. American Standard enters 2012 as a significantly stronger company than when it was acquired by Sun Capital in late 2007. Also, I love the building products industry. I still believe that home ownership is part of the all-American dream. I want to be a part of rebuilding this important industry.
Supply House Times: How has your leadership style grown over your career and how will it fit with your new role at American Standard?JG: Over my career I’ve been able to grow world-class brands by leveraging really powerful business models. I would highlight the Coca-Cola system, which uses a highly developed route-to-market model, and Pepperidge Farms, which goes to market with more than 3,000 independently owned distributors. I’m very passionate about igniting the entrepreneurial spirit and providing individuals with tools to build business. American Standard goes to market through a developed network of wholesalers and distributors, but ultimately this system is designed to serve individual specifiers and installers and, of course, the homeowners.
Supply House Times: What is the best advice that you've received during your career?JG: In 1985, Bruce Atwater, who was the CEO of General Mills, told me, “There’s no such thing as tired brands, just tired brand managers.” That advice has led me on a continuous journey of innovation and inspiration. Even great brands like Coca-Cola need to be stoked with innovation and excitement.
Supply House Times: How have your previous positions prepared you for your new position at American Standard?JG: At the risk of sounding trite, I’ve spent my entire career preparing for this role. I have led world-class brands in fast-moving consumer goods and in durable goods. I have worked in highly complex business models. I have lived and worked internationally for over 15 years. And, at one point, I was a pipe-fitter’s apprentice.
Those experiences aside, perhaps my biggest preparation is learning how to listen and to incorporate that into market approaches that create value for everyone.