Mack Valves Managing Director Craig Ehrke is very pleased to announce the company’s latest sales initiative, increased stock, in support of a traditional Mack Valves market segment. In announcing his support Craig said “industrial plumbing and boiler and steam service are a grass roots customer base for Mack, but they require product to be readily available. Stock availability is not something we have focused on in recent times, so we have had to recognise the real needs of our customers and respond appropriately. I was pleased to support the investment in increased stock of products those customers use, and look forward to our sales team making sure that we deliver a market leading standard of customer support.”
I am happy to announce two new management team members who have joined us last month to continue our growth within the local and International Cryogenic, Water and Steam markets.
Spencer JENNER began with Mack on the 1st April as Head of Sales, Australia New Zealand. Prior to joining Mack he worked at GE within their Automation and Controls division where he was responsible for the ANZ business. Before working with GE, he was the ANZ Regional Sales Manager for Emerson Valve Automation business. Spencer has been in and out of the valve industry for all of his career, even visiting Mack Valves in his early years to pick up a purchase that had been made from his employer at the time. His strong industry knowledge along with his depth of experience in channel management and market development, will be valuable for Mack as we continue our growth. Walking into the role, Spencer said “I am really excited to be working in a Company with such a strong history and heritage, and be part of a team defining an exciting vision, with passion to take control of a legacy gone by, taking Mack into an exciting new future.”.
Karin VOSMANSKY also started with Mack in April, on the 7th , as the Head of Finance. Karin spent the early part of her career with one of the world’s largest Food and Beverage services brands, working events in Australia such as the Commonwealth Games and Australian Open. From there, she focused her work on numerous not-for-profit organisations and aiding them in building their ability to support their cause. Karin also ran a successful Hospitality Financial Solutions business. With her experience in supporting many business leaders in running an effective business, she will bring invaluable insight and control to Mack Valves to better run and growth the organisation into the future. Karin said “I can wait to get involved in the next chapter of Mack’s Australian story and be a part of its future success.”.
I look forward to the experience, energy and passion they will both bring to Mack, as we continue our growth to further support our customers’ needs.
An interview with Mack Valves Chairman Ravin Mirchandani published in Gasworld in December 2015.
The full PDF article can be viewed\downloaded HERE
Mack Valves Chairman Ravin MIRCHANDANI recently published a short article detailing the importance in striving for a customer focused innovation process when it comes to product development.
Full article can be viewed\downloaded HERE
This video is the vision of one of our team members Gwen. Gwen has worked with Mack for more than 20 years and when we asked Gwen what Mack does she said “Mack helps save lives and make people’s lives easier”. Gwen continued “whether you are having a shower in the morning, using electricity, eating breakfast, driving to work in your wonderful car, having a beer in the evening or fighting illness in a hospital. Chances are a Mack Valves product has contributed to the value chain that makes that experience an easier one for all of us”.
1st May, 2015
I am happy to announce Chris BROWELL taking on the role of Head of R&D, for Mack Australia.
Chris has been involved in valves and their design ever since finishing his studies, and has a wealth of knowledge in the industry. Having Chris take on this key role, gives Mack Valves an ability to continue to build and strengthen Mack Valves product across its Cryogenic, Water and Gas portfolio. As our brand continues to expand around the world, being able to develop product for the market and our customers is of extreme importance to our business.
We are excited about the direction that Mack will continue to take with our product and having Chris play a key role in this development.
16th February, 2015
We are pleased to announce a new role and incumbent to the position of Head of Major Projects, Cameron MENZIES.
While Cameron was instrumental in giving Mack some valuable knowledge in Defence procurement processes and opportunities, we have been fortunate to employ him into a permanent role for Mack, where he will grow and build our ability to win and execute large projects both here and overseas. Cameron came to Mack from QinetiQ, where he headed up Sales & Business Development. Previous to his time there, Cameron worked with Tenix Defence, Goodrich, and Boeing Defence.
Cameron will give Mack a great strength in identifying and executing projects of major significance as he begins his role with us. “After working with major corporations throughout my career, having the opportunity to bring that experience to a company such as Mack, and help build on its reputation for winning and executing large projects is very exciting”.
Having Cameron on board to build on our large project strengths that have been established in recent years, will provide many lasting benefits for Mack, and we look forward to having him on board.
Mack Valves had a SPECIAL FEATURE published in Gasworld magazine discussing our newly inaugurated Pune facility.
Full article can be viewed\downloaded HERE
Gasworld article referencing the Global interest in India and the strategic investment by Mack Valves to inaugurate a new facility in Pune.
Full PDF download HERE
17th October, 2014
We are pleased to announce the appointment of a new Managing Director, Craig EHRKE.
Craig began his association with Mack Valves back in 2013 during the change of ownership period. From there, he worked with the then established team to bring focus on planning and execution of key targets, before taking on the head role to continue this transformation.
Before working at Mack Valves, Craig was employed with Leica Microsystems (part of the Life Sciences platform for the Danaher Group) for 9 years, working in Germany, Hong Kong and Australia. His focus was spread across building operational performance within the factories and sales functions in Asia Pacific, as well as taking care of global senior management performance development. Prior to Leica, Craig was employed by SOLA International both in Australia and the United States, and then with Tenix Defence.
Talking about his impending move into heading up Mack Valves, Craig said “After working with Mack Valves for the last 12 months as a consultant, I’m very excited to be getting more directly involved with the business and building strengths in people and processes/systems to ensure it can grow to its potential.”
We are looking forward to the growth of depth and sophistication that Craig will bring to the business, as he builds Mack’s structures and competitiveness.
Asialink is Australia’s leading centre for building Asia capability, public understanding of Asia, and appreciation of Australia’s role in the Asian region. Mack Valves were recently fortunate enough to be asked to be part of a AsiaLink Case Study, this Case Study puts Mack in the amazing company of Bundaberg Brewed Drinks; Midway Metals and Infoactiv.
Below is excepts from the Case Study, further video interviews with Ravin MIRCHANDANI, Craig EHRKE and Shaun MILLER (link) or you can download a copy of the PDF:
Mack Valves: key learnings
Establishing a new enterprise in a developing country can be a double-edged sword – fraught yet full of potential. Mack Valves a business that has been providing specialised valves to various industries for more than 75 years, including defence forces in Australia and the US as well as leading mining and industrial gas companies – is a good example
When Ravin Mirchandani acquired Mack Valves along with his partners in 2013 and became chairman, he decided to take Mack Valves back to its roots as an Australian family-owned and managed company. This included placing a premium on quality innovation with a global manufacturing and supply chain outlook. The business has since had significant growth, expanding its operations in late 2014 with the commissioning of a new factory in Pune, India. To achieve this strategic direction, Mack Valves engaged a new senior management team, recruiting external Australian managers with significant international experience.
This was not Mack Valves’ first foray into India. Its previous American owners had expanded into India as a low-cost, offshore option to manufacture products. They established a plant in a remote town and faced challenges that included a low-skilled workforce and limited access to electricity, water and transport infrastructure. This raised difficulties with the production of valves, which required highly skilled teams and the use of leading technologies to ensure safe production.
The senior management team at Mack Valves envisioned something quite different with the new Indian factory. The company wanted to embrace the nation’s full potential as part of a growth strategy into the region, gaining access to the burgeoning Indian market while having the potential to supply products to Australia, China, the US, the Middle East and Africa. After equipping the plant with state-of- the-art machinery, the strategy was to complement the Australian operation in Melbourne by doubling the size of Mack Valves’ engineering and research and development teams, rather than offshoring production. But turning this vision into a reality was not without its challenges.
Taking a measured risk: listen to your clients’ requests
Ravin knew there was significant potential for growth in the area because he had listened to clients’ frustrations about the long delays in importing high-quality valves into India. But after two decades in the industry, he also understood the risks. The new factory has to be operating efficiently before it can acquire certification by the relevant authorities in each of the countries it intends to export to. This can take several months.
Despite not having any signed client contracts, Mack Valves invested in setting up the new plant in Pune, relocating from the earlier location that proved unsustainable. As Ravin explained: ‘It is a long process. It could take between three and five years until the Pune factory is at full capacity, but the potential is immeasurable. One has to have the stamina for the long run when investing outside of Australia.’ The gamble is already starting to pay off. At the function to inaugurate the plant in Pune, potential global clients, many of whom already had smaller contracts with the Melbourne-based operation, provided positive feedback and were impressed that the new factory was adhering to Australian standards. Once certification is received, Mack Valves intends to develop these client relationships to secure new contracts.
Sourcing and retaining capable talent: invest continuously in your Indian workforce
One of the bigger challenges for Mack Valves has been the recruitment of local talent for the Pune factory. India’s high-skilled and educated workers are in hot demand at home and abroad, where multinationals recruit them for projects in cities such as Dubai. Those who remain in India are recruited by leading corporations that offer attractive packages. Australian businesses generally underestimate the high competition for talent in India, making it one of the leading obstacles in establishing a business.
Once a preferred candidate is identified after a process of interviews and a technical assessment, Skype sessions are then held with the Australian management team to determine if there is an appropriate fit and to evaluate attributes. Even the recruitment process can present difficulties because often the prerequisites for a role in Australia cannot be applied in an Indian context. For example, the Indian sales team may have good sales experience but not specifically in the valves industry; in Australia, specialised knowledge of an industry is a must. This has meant that management has had to adjust its expectations and consider strategies and training to address capability levels of the new recruits to meet Australian standards.
Retaining talent has also been a challenge for many Australian businesses operating in India. Poaching highly skilled workers is common among multinationals and local Indian firms. Mack Valves’ Indian management team highlights this as a potential issue it is actively preparing for.
In an effort to retain staff, Mack Valves adopts a supportive corporate culture. This is fundamental to increasing employee satisfaction and commitment. ‘We don’t want sub-cultures and hierarchy throughout our plant, but rather a flatter structure where everyone is equal, approachable and willing to help each other for the benefit of the business as a whole,’ Ravin said. That’s a big ask in a country where a hierarchic caste system has flourished for generations.
Providing flexible hours, proper sanitation, a rooftop space to relax on breaks and a cafeteria has gone some way to creating the Mack Valves ‘family’. Staff members who work hard and follow and encourage safety standards are duly acknowledged, and this has forged good team morale. ‘You need to make your talent want to work for you,’ Ravin explained. ‘This starts with first having a mechanism of correctly identifying someone who supports your vision and shares the excitement of your company’s dreams and aspirations. Then you paint the picture and follow through with the promises that were made to them when they joined your team.’ The company has invested significantly in its engineers, dispatching them to Melbourne for training and committing to sending staff to overseas conferences where they can network and develop their knowledge and skills.
Proactively manage cross-cultural teams: understand different working styles and manage expectations
Mack Valves’ experience highlights the need for Australian businesses to consider the different working styles and expectations across their workforces in Asia. Tensions grow out of misunderstandings simply due to cross-cultural teams not being aware of the different contexts surrounding them. The Melbourne-based team sometimes felt the Pune team worked in isolation, while the Indian workforce believed the Melburnians had little confidence in their abilities. ‘It is vital that we [management] make it clear that the two plants are not separate entities,’ Ravin said. ‘They need to work together as one. Everyone needs to be aligned towards the vision of the company. This is practised and promoted by management with clear communication of each other’s expectations.’ Weekly videoconference sessions and regular phone conversations are also held to encourage relationship-building between the two factories.
One of the key cultural differences is that the Australian employees have traditionally taken a more measured approach compared with the Indian team. ‘Due to the incredibly fast growth rate of the Indian economy, the team in India is passionate and wants to move ahead in leaps and bounds,’ Ravin explained. This results in them wanting to make quick decisions without considering the broader issues of plant safety and product quality. Management intends to use this energy to drive the established Australian business to speed up its improvement effort and learn to think differently. Nevertheless, extra guidance and encouragement is required for the Indian workforce to ensure correct processes are followed.
Mack Valves also acknowledges that its Australian workforce needs to better understand the challenges of operating in a developing country. The Australian team is learning to appreciate numerous cultural sensitivities, including the Indian emphasis on multitasking and rapid turnaround in communications. Another is awareness that tasks such as engineering calculations and costing exercises in India may take two to three times longer to complete as the team in India expands its skills and expertise. Processes on maintaining quality also need to be enhanced and are more elaborate in the Indian context. Where a two-page document outlining a procedure is acceptable in Australia, more detailed explanations on standard operating procedures and work instructions are required by the Indian team. Approvals in India can also be challenging, particularly at a government level where timelines are often lengthy.
To prevent issues arising, management adjusted the business processes at both factories to ensure clear expectations and correct measurements of results. ‘The key is to take their energy and work with it,’ Ravin said. ‘Use it carefully, rather than squashing it and holding them back.’ Other strategies included the Australian team travelling to India to further build relationships and understanding with the Pune factory. Simple gestures such as giving the Indian workforce a cricket bat signed by the Australian cricket team have also assisted to develop strong ties between the two factories.
Give back to the community: encourage CSR initiatives to assist local development
There are also expectations on the increasing number of foreign organisations moving into India to embrace the low-cost environment. Concerns exist around the exploitation of local Indian communities by multinationals. Mack Valves has been conscious of these concerns and, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, has hired local disadvantaged women. The group of five young women in their 20s, some of them illiterate, had no prior skills in the industry but are now learning to be international-standard welders. The initiative has involved training them on welding simulators to provide them with strong experience in a safe and well-supervised environment. ‘It is a very long process with understandably numerous challenges, but to give something so precious back to these women and the community is a responsibility we will proudly embrace,’ Ravin said.
These challenges include a long development period of at least 18 months until the women are fully capable of deciphering industrial drawings, understanding the factory environment and acquiring an appreciation for safety and quality. Setting clear expectations is vital, with Mack Valves reassuring the women that if the job is too overwhelming, they have no obligation to stay. With no experience working with people from a disadvantaged background, management also supports the Indian teams with encouragement that everyone has to start from somewhere and to be patient in training the group to be competent.
Expanding operations into another country is not easy and involves a long process with commitment from all parties. Mack Valves’ experience highlights that India is more than a low-cost offshoring opportunity. As India’s socioeconomic environment continues to develop, Australian businesses wishing to expand overseas should consider the potential of operating in India as an effective strategy to access the region and the growing markets of Asia. With it may come challenges, but as Mack Valves demonstrates, knowing the risks, preparing for potential difficulties and understanding differences among your cross-cultural teams is crucial for success.
Founded in 1939, Mack Valves celebrates a proud heritage of 75 years of manufacturing valves in Australia in September 2014. Today, the company manufactures a broad range of cryogenic and LNG valves as well as large engineered industrial gas valves. We met with Shaun Miller, Head of Global Business Development of Mack Valves, recently and here is what he had to say.
CryoGas International (CryoGas): Mack Valves celebrates 75 years in business this month. Tell us briefly about this journey.
Shaun Miller (Miller): Mack Valves was incorporated in Melbourne, Australia in 1939 by our founder Michael E. Mack and our products were marketed under the brand-name, “M.E. Mack.” We still use this original trademark.
During the mid-1980s, Mack Valves was sold to Senior, a large multinational valve corporation in Great Britain. Senior in turn sold Mack Valves to the Goddard Group in 2000. A few years later Goddard sold Mack Valves, upon which we became an Australian owned and operated company again.
Throughout our 75 year history, the business characteristics that have kept us continuously growing and profitable are our disciplined and rigorous product de- velopment process and our ability to meet the often complex requirements of our cus- tomers. We have achieved success by our focus on our people, on training, and on automation. The core of our business has always been international sales and ser- vice.
2014 is a milestone year for Mack Valves as we have successfully increased our production capacity four-old with our second plant coming on-stream in India. This plant will add to the existing capacity we have in Melbourne, Australia.
CryoGas: Tell us about the breadth of products that Mack Valves makes.
Miller: Mack Valves designs and manu- factures globe, ball, check, diverting, pres- sure-build, pressure-release, safety valves, and pressure regulators for the cryogenic and LNG industries. Our standard cryo- genic valves are able to operate at pressure ratings of up to 334 bar.
Valve sizes span from products for small liquid cylinders to large engineered tanks. We also have a large, dedicated engineer- ing team, which allows us not only to con- stantly innovate, but also to offer unique customized solutions for small batch or- ders.
CryoGas: Which industry segments does Mack Valves have the capability to service?
Miller: Mack Valves has a broad spec- trum of standard valves that are installed on cryogenic as well as LNG storage and distribution tanks. We also have a strong product suite for liquid cylinders and small scale LNG re-gasification sites. In addi- tion, Mack Valves is a well-established participant in the engineered valves in- dustry. Our product spectrum ranges from 5mm to 600mm valves — we recently delivered 600mm oxygen service globe valves for a new steel plant project in Asia.
CryoGas: Do you have a presence in the USA?
Miller: We manufacture to both ASME and CE codes and our valves are used globally in exacting conditions in devel- oping and developed countries. We have the necessary code approvals to to sell our products in the US and over the last few years we have successfully added to our
production, service, and warehousing ca- pabilities. We are presently finalizing our distributor partner relationships in order to recommence our relationship with the industrial and cryogenic gas and LNG sec- tors in North America.
Our product offering to the US will in- clude cryogenic valves, LNG valves, and large industrial gas valves. We recently en- rolled as a member of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) and are looking forward to being an active contributor and participant in the industry in North America.
CryoGas: What do you consider the challenges for the company and sector, and what is your vision?
Miller: We are happy with what Mack Valves has achieved over the last few years in terms of sales, profits, and the enlargement of our product spectrum. Our challenge now is to continue this growth trajectory by finding a suitable niche in markets where we do not yet participate.
The long term challenge for the cryo- genic and LNG industries remains innova- tion, linked in particular to how the “inter- net of things” can be extended to various products in our industry in a safe and ar- chitecturally robust manner — in particu- lar how electronics will interface with the products in our industry to ensure opera- tions are fail-safe and cannot be impacted by human error, while also being constant- ly monitored to track the relevant metrics to provide flow and use data.
More information on Mack Valves can be found on www.mackvalves.com.
Be sure to visit the Mack Valves booth at the GAWDA Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA this month.
14th March, 2014
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Shaun MILLER to Head of Sales & Business Development.
Shaun has joined Mack Valves after a 5 year period in China, where he worked for Buildex (a division of ITW) and Steel Framing Systems. He went there with Buildex to head up Northern Sales and build the fastener & screw business within the Chinese building industry. After 2 years in that role he decided to leave ITW (after a total of 6 years with them) and took on the challenge of establishing an Australian building business within China as their General Manager.
As Mack continues its growth and global expansion, Shaun has come to us with a great deal of experience and energy to grow into new markets and take control of market share within established markets. This gives Mack absolute strength within both its established Cryogenic, Water & Gas product lines both in Australia and around the world.
Looking forward to the challenge of the role, Shaun said “I’m of course excited to be returning to Australia but being able to utilise my global experience to build an Australian iconic brand such as Mack, and present its manufacturing and engineering capability to the world, is the perfect opportunity for me”.
We all look forward to the new directions and outcomes as a result of Shaun’s appointment.