Supply House Times Profile: Sioux Chief’s Rex Baer
Baer says product innovation and listening to the customer are key company staples.
|Sioux Chief Vice President Rex Baer|
Ed Ismert, Jr., started plumbing product manufacturer Sioux Chief in 1957 as a way to smooth the boom-bust housing cycle his plumbing wholesale supply company experienced. Nearly six decades later, Sioux Chief, still run by the Ismert family, continues to thrive as an American manufacturer of a wide variety of plumbing installation products. Sioux Chief now operates out of a 140-acre, nearly 400,000-sq.-ft. plant-warehouse south of Peculiar, Mo.
Sioux Chief sponsored the 2013 ASA Spring Forum in Kansas City, Mo., in May and hosted a plant tour for the nearly 100 young executives in attendance. Sioux Chief Vice President Rex Baer recently took time to chat with Supply House Times on a variety of subjects.
Supply House Times: How important is Sioux Chief’s relationship with the wholesale channel?
Rex Baer: Without the wholesaler reaching out to the local contractors, we wouldn’t have the success we’ve had. These partners provide many valuable services that keep our inventory stocked locally and our products out in front of the customer. Sioux Chief and our manufacturers reps are quite fortunate to enjoy many strong relationships with our wholesale partners, which in our business is everything.
Supply House Times: What allows Sioux Chief to develop the breadth of products it does?
RB: Innovation. That’s what makes Sioux Chief special. We’re able to innovate because of our ability to be good listeners and to pay attention to the wants and needs of contractors and our wholesale partners. When you do that, the ideas come. We’ll take those problems and create solutions. Those solutions create new products for our industry. We’re creating products the wholesale customer never sold before. That creates new sources of revenues not only for us, but for our wholesale customers.
Supply House Times: How much of an advantage does Sioux Chief have in being an American manufacturer?
RB: Being an American manufacturer is who we are. We are a true American manufacturer. We take great pride in that. Not only are we capable of manufacturing our current offering, but we’re able to innovate and provide new solutions for our markets and our wholesale partners. Being a true American manufacturer, we’re in control of all facets of the manufacturing process. In our opinion, that is what makes a quality product. We have the ability to quickly respond to opportunities or fix problems in a fraction of the time it usually takes. Our ability to be completely vertically integrated in design, building and machining and testing is what makes Sioux Chief special and unique. It’s how we choose to invest our talents and that allows us to sleep a little better at night knowing we are in control of that quality.
Supply House Times: Sioux Chief sponsored the Spring Forum in Kansas City. How critical is it to get the younger generation involved in the industry?
RB: As one of the veterans here, I see a younger generation that is hungry for change and sees the need to adapt to new markets and new opportunities. I attended the Spring Forum and it was very encouraging to hear their new ideas and see the ambition and energy they have to take advantage of those ideas. When I came into the industry, our goal was to make it better than the generation before us. When I visit with these future leaders, they are ready and willing to take it to the next level. For Sioux Chief to understand their ideas and be involved in their process is very exciting.
Supply House Times: What are you most proud of about Sioux Chief over the last five years?
RB: We were able to grow our market share in a down time. We put ourselves in a position to invest and develop new products. Over the last five years, we’ve probably developed and introduced close to 40 new products. We knew the market was going to come back, so we took the opportunity to come up with product ideas. The market is back and now we’re reaping the rewards.