Aroddy Morejon has quite the memory. He also makes quite the first impression.
As a 16-year-old working in a Hialeah, Fla., hardware store, Morejon just happened to mix the paint for Mario Amador, who was painting a door for his mother. On the spot, Amador offered Morejon a job with Miami-based A&B Pipe and Supply. At that moment, the stars weren’t aligned. Morejon couldn’t commit to travel the long distance to A&B headquarters on his bike.
Three years later, Morejon had some wheels and was ready for a new opportunity. He opened the Yellow Pages and called A&B Pipe wondering if there were any job openings. Later that week, he was in the office for an interview with the purchasing manager.
During his interview, Morejon was asked how he heard of the company. He recited his chance encounter with the guy buying the paint.
The interviewer then pointed out the window to a man sitting in the bullpen of desks.
“Could it be him?” Morejon’s interviewer asked.
There was Amador. Morejon was hired for a counter job and was on his way at A&B; with a mentor to boot.
Six months later, Morejon was promoted to inside salesman. By 2006, he was sales manager. And the work he and A&B Pipe have created made him the perfect face for Supply House Times’ Young Execs 20 list. Supply House Times reached out to its industry partners to find 20 of the top young PHCP and PVF professionals. Read here for brief profiles on those 20 industry up-and-comers.
When Morejon was promoted to sales manager he pushed all his chips into the middle in support of A&B Pipe. “I realized they trusted me and I went all in for them,” he says.
His commitment coincided with President Enrique Collazo’s push for a strong presence in various international markets. A&B Pipe put in a couple years’ worth of research before the team got its passports ready.
When it was prepared to move forward on the international front, A&B Pipe teamed with pipe manufacturer Victaulic (which provided the leads) on a joint venture to make inroads in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Haiti, Colombia, Panama, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.
Today, A&B Pipe is on the verge of having its own separate company just for international business. Morejon reports A&B Pipe is doing major volume sales in Haiti, and has a string of orders in Puerto Rico totaling seven figures. The remaining countries provide a steady stream of sales orders.
“On a more consistent basis sales have been in the Dominican Republic, Panama and Costa Rica,” Morejon says.
Conducting business internationally is not as simple as just showing up and proving you have the right product. The A&B Pipe team had to make the right connections. Collazo, who worked extensively in the international market before he purchased A&B Pipe in 1995, made sure from the outset that the company was put in contact with the right people.
During one of the trips, Collazo recalls, Morejon went “the extra mile” in search of finding the right customer. “One of the critical things when going overseas is identifying the good creditors,” Collazo says. “Aroddy took it upon himself in Costa Rica, on his own initiative, to talk with the local vendors and see if these specific guys would pay their bills.”
Morejon felt they were strong candidates and gave them open account lines. “Had it not been for Aroddy and that type of attitude, we wouldn’t have made those sales,” Collazo says.
The trust factor goes both ways. Potential customers need to feel a sense of security with A&B Pipe. “You have to go out and meet the people. In the states it’s a handshake. Overseas it’s a hug,” Morejon says. “If you get a hug, you’re in. If they find trust in you, it’s great. Overseas, you can take it to a more personal level.”
In terms of international trends, Morejon notes overseas contractors can’t buy enough Victaulic grooved products because of the time saved during installation.
“People are used to the welding method of joining pipes together down there,” Morejon states. “The grooved products are taking off because they save time. When these guys order, they order. Here in the states people order 50 couplings; down there they order 500.”
On the homefront
With its burgeoning business overseas, the recent recession didn’t sting A&B Pipe as much as it could have. Collazo reports no employees were laid off and no salaries were cut (overtime was kept to a minimum).
Today, commercial business is starting to return in South Florida, including the recently opened Marlins Park — home of Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins. A portion of the construction had to go through registered small businesses such as A&B Pipe, which supplied the plumbing, waterworks, fire-protection and air-conditioning products for the ballpark.
In turn, the ballpark delivered for A&B Pipe. “That project gave us the opportunity to work with companies we’d never dealt with, but had been looking to work with for some time,” Morejon says. “That was a big help for us; to show other companies what we could do. Now they have another source when before they were saying ‘I didn’t know A&B existed.’”
The Marlins project helped lead A&B Pipe to the Port of Miami tunnel project, which included supplying plumbing, waterworks and mechanical materials. A&B Pipe’s business breaks around 70% domestic and 30% international. Its scope of projects ranges from as far south as Key West to as far east as Port St. Lucie and north to Orlando.
Collazo says it’s difficult to find good employees no matter their age, but that doesn’t mean he won’t make efforts to find and grow young talent.
“You interview people whether you need someone or not,” he says. “You don’t know when you might find someone or when you might need someone.”
Collazo believes in key principles such as intense training, adapting A&B Pipe’s culture, the promotion of new ideas and allowing young employees the chance to fall, get up and dust themselves off.
“You have to allow people to make mistakes, just hopefully not big mistakes,” he says. “Eventually you’re going to make a mistake.”
Collazo is proud of how Morejon has evolved and grown with A&B Pipe. He’s especially impressed with how Morejon leads by example.
“He’s a good motivator and he goes to bat for his people,” Collazo states. “One of the key traits for a person with potential is when they are getting results from others instead of just themselves.”
Morejon’s youth and desire have come in handy at odd times. He’s the off-hours emergency on-call contact for companies needing product in a pinch.
“I’ve been out there for guys at 3 a.m., and those guys don’t forget that,” Morejon says. “If I screw up an order they’ll pat me on the back and say don’t worry about it, you were here at 3 a.m. last weekend. It’s always about doing more for them than they do for you.”
Supply House Times' Young Execs 20
Young talents are making impressions in every avenue of our industry. From counter sales to marketing to management, up-and-coming leaders are growing by the day. Supply House Times asked our industry partners to identify some of these rising stars. The result is the Supply House Times Young Execs 20. Check out our slideshow at the top of the page to see Supply House Times' Top 20 Young Execs.