Executive Q&A: Watts’ White Wins ’em Over
By Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor
Watts Water Technologies/Water Filtration Group
1725 W. Williams Dr., #C-20
Phoenix, AZ 85027
Tel: (800) 752-5582 • Fax: (623) 931-0191
Doug White, Group Vice President, Watts Water Technologies
- Watts Premier (www.wattspremier.com)
- Watts Pure Water (www.wattspurewater.com)
- Watts Flowmatic (www.flowmatic.com)
- Others in White’s portfolio: Watts ACV, Watts Radiant and Watts Spacemaker
Stealthily, Watts Industries—renamed Watts Water Technologies Inc. in October—acquired 60 companies since 1987, only catching the point-of-use/point-of-entry industry’s attention when it bought reverse osmosis and filter maker Premier Manufactured Systems, of Phoenix, in June 2001. Premier, founded in 1989, had annual revenues of $8 million at the time.
That same week in 2001, Watts hired Doug White as group vice president to oversee Premier, where he’s based, and three other companies. As of November, add another, Flowmatic Inc., of Dunnellon, Fla. Terms of the sale weren’t disclosed, but White said management likely will remain in place long term, which generally reflects Watts’ acquisition strategy of buying well-managed companies that complement and broaden its existing operations.
“The Watts strategy, in terms of water treatment, is first to grow our core business, which is Premier and now Flowmatic,” White said. “But we’ve known from the beginning that, to have a meaningful strategy in the water treatment business, we needed a connection to the water treatment dealer. And, obviously, Flowmatic gives us that.”
Flowmatic—a maker and distributor of RO and filter housings and components, etc., since 1980—has annual sales of $12 million. For more on its background, see our Executive Q&A interview with Flowmatic president Scott Brane in the May 2001 issue of WC&P.
A 128-year-old company, Watts is based in North Andover, Mass., and got its start producing steam regulator valves for the textile industry. With over 5,000 products, it built a reputation serving all the valve control and backflow prevention needs of the plumbing and heating markets and, more recently, has moved to add water quality to that. Of its $600 million a year in sales, about 19 percent of the volume is in water treatment, White said.
White came to Watts from Honey-well Consumer Products Group in Boston where he was executive vice president of marketing. Before that, he was with Broan/Nutone in Hartford, Wis. He also worked for Northland Aluminum in Minneapolis and spent 14 years with Borden Corp. White has served on the manufacturer’s board of the National Association of Home Builders, on the Home Center Marketing Council, and as president of the Air Force Academy Parent’s Association. A 1966 Texas A&M graduate with a business degree, he’s a native of Dallas.
He didn’t come to Watts without experience in water treatment. When he was at Honeywell, it was in the POU/POE market with simple filtration systems while developing its own RO solution. When P&G bought Pür and Brita geared up its pour-through pitcher advertising budget, however, Honeywell bowed out. While with Northland, he also helped develop the first end-of-faucet filter with lead removal as well as a residential drinking water test kit sold at Target, Wal-Mart and Kmart.
White said Premier was geared similarly toward retail and OEMs in the past, but new products such as the Zero Waste RO introduced last year have more of a dealer focus. The company is very excited about that, Zero Waste conversion kit for retrofitting ROs, and a new RO manifold. It also now produces systems up to 15,000 gallons a day for commercial/light industrial use. Flow-matic brings a reputation among dealers offering advantages for even wider distribution of Watts products.