Ductile iron pipe products, fittings and joint restraints
Strategic and Operational Turnaround of a Leading Infrastructure Company
Wynnchurch Capital acquired U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company, LLC (“U.S. Pipe” or the “Company”) in April 2012. U.S. Pipe was a non-core division of Mueller Water Products (NYSE: MWA) that was underperforming due to (i) a lack of strategic direction, (ii) lower volume from the severe downturn in the U.S. housing market in 2008-2009 and municipal spending cuts on infrastructure projects, (iii) operational challenges that led to lower on-time delivery rates and higher costs and (iv) a volatile steel price environment.
Despite its challenges, U.S. Pipe remained the #1 player in the ductile iron pipe market for water infrastructure. The company had a 100+ year history, the strongest brand in the industry and the broadest portfolio of pipe, fittings and joint restraints. U.S. Pipe was also positioned to benefit from the recovery of residential construction and significant public investment required to upgrade the nation’s water infrastructure.
Wynnchurch recognized the strengths of U.S. Pipe’s leading market position, the expected improvement in long-term demand and embraced the opportunity to fix key strategic, commercial, and operational issues. Wynnchurch partnered with a world class management team led by Paul Ciolino, the incumbent CEO, to turnaround the business and re-establish U.S. Pipe as the pre-eminent player in the waterworks industry. To accomplish this turnaround, U.S. Pipe invested significantly in people, SG&A and capital equipment. Management’s primary focus was on its customers and providing the broadest product line with best-in-class quality, delivery and service. The team refocused the sales efforts across the country to partner with distributors to regain lost market share and create a more strategic geographic footprint. Management also instilled a data driven culture with an intense focus on driving core manufacturing metrics, lean manufacturing principles and automation that ultimately allowed U.S. Pipe to become the low cost producer.
In addition to the initiatives mentioned above, U.S. Pipe and Wynnchurch worked together to create value through five highly strategic and synergistic acquisitions in categories that included (i) complimentary manufacturing operations, (ii) fabricators to provide better service to its customer base, (iii) fittings’ suppliers to broaden its product portfolio and (iv) suppliers to vertically integrate and better manage strategic materials and improve margins.
As a result of Wynnchurch’s and management’s efforts, U.S. Pipe experienced a substantial turnaround from negative earnings to increasing EBITDA by over $100 million. U.S. Pipe was sold to Forterra Building Products, an infrastructure and water management products and solutions company, in April 2016.