Getting through the excitement of his Calculus III course, Dave Garlow’s experience at the University of Pittsburgh’s engineering school opened doors that even he couldn’t have imagined. But the real education came with he started working with Viega LLC and current CEO Dan Schmierer, whom he replaces October 1 as Viega’s new president and CEO. “Dave Garlow’s 14 years with Viega LLC in sales and marketing make him an ideal candidate to become president and CEO,” Schmierer says. “He brings a very strong customer focus to the role and understands where our customers are coming from. He’s well prepared to step up to this new role.”
Growing up in western Pennsylvania, Garlow worked many summer and after-school jobs, the most exciting as a rafting guide on the Cheat River in West Virginia. Garlow coached youth hockey in Pittsburgh for 12 seasons before he moved to Kansas in 2005, and he still plays a little ice hockey in the winter. He also volunteered for the Holy Family Institute in Pittsburgh, a community organization that offers family support services.
Garlow graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 and completed his MBA from the Katz School of Business in 2001. During his time at the University of Pittsburgh, he played ice hockey and was a member of ASME and ASHRAE student chapters. “After graduating from school I intended to travel for a while and enjoy some downtime. That didn’t last as long as I had hoped and I knew that I had to get serious about starting a career,” said Garlow. Through the placement service at the University of Pittsburgh, Garlow was introduced to J.C. Mottinger Associates, a manufacturer’s rep in Pittsburgh, where he worked as a sales engineer.
Garlow currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Smithsonian-affiliated Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kan., which is home to the largest collection of U.S. space artifacts outside of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Garlow is also an active member of the Sons of the American Legion Post 4 in Wichita, Kan., “because veterans’ causes are important to me.”
An avid biker, Garlow has ridden well over 500,000 miles. “I used to keep track, but lost my log book! I have ridden in every state, except Hawaii, and had a couple of road trips to Alaska. Finding a trout stream along the way was a bonus,” says Garlow.
The Viega years
Garlow, who joined Viega LLC on the same day as Dan Schmierer in 1999, plans to continue growing the existing legacy of customer service, quality and innovation that has contributed to the company’s exceptional growth. In his time at Viega LLC, Garlow has worked as a regional manager, the national sales manager and as the vice president of sales and marketing. For the past eight years, he has been a member of Viega LLC’s executive committee. As the head of the sales and marketing group, he has been involved with developing sales strategies, new product launch programs and establishing the company’s perspective and market position. But, as a career salesperson, he mostly enjoys the time he spends with customers. “It is so much fun to talk to successful business people, company owners and professional tradesmen who got their start in the trades. They know so much about business, our industry and how to be successful,” says Garlow.
The CEO years
After being with the company nearly 15 years, Garlow steps into the role of CEO with a touch of humility — recognizing Schmierer’s invaluable mentorship — and a clear vision of the direction he wants to take the company. “I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Dan Schmierer and am honored to have been asked to assume the responsibilities of the president and CEO of Viega LLC in October,” says Garlow. “This has been a well planned transition and will be seamless on all fronts.”
Garlow’s view is that successful CEOs unite the right balance of leadership skills, business insight and risk tolerance with the highest level of integrity while living out the company’s core values in day-to-day actions. “To put it in real words, good CEOs do the right thing and take the high road at all costs,” says Garlow. He is adamant about the concept of teamwork as a fundamental principle in guiding the company in the right direction. “It includes commitment, long hours, ownership and winning. None of those things, or other company success factors, would be possible without teamwork,” says Garlow.
His philosophies and initiatives for the company are steadfast. “Viega’s vision is to continue to be a leading supplier, in the eyes of our customers, to the industries that we serve,” says Garlow. For Viega LLC, that means being the employer of choice in the community, and it means supplying the industry the innovative products, outstanding field support and supply chain competence that are at the core of the company’s success. According to Garlow, growing the press technology market, for example, includes some obvious things like feet on the street and strong marketing efforts. But the real market growth comes when a more general competence in press technology is demonstrated. That leads to contractor confidence and greater acceptance for the technology. “At Viega, we go way beyond copper press technology with competencies in stainless steel, CuNi and most recently our carbon steel MegaPress fittings for connecting iron pipe,” says Garlow.
Viega’s customer focus won’t change: The mission will continue to be enhancing lives by providing innovative piping systems for our industry. And, Viega is committed to the professional trades and its wholesale distribution network. Viega’s daily business efforts will continue to reflect its core values. “We want to get the right tools to the right people and provide them the support they need to do their jobs,” says Garlow.
Industry and community interests are important to Garlow in that he would like to lend the Viega brand to in order to further some causes. “One that comes to mind is working alongside other industry groups to help today’s youth understand how rewarding a career in the trades can be,” says Garlow. This is something that everyone invested in our industry should be paying attention to.