What is it that inspires someone to spend an entire career in the valve industry? After all, it’s not particularly glamorous and it’s pretty well thankless. Oftentimes you work in hot, dirty places, sometimes far from home and family. Chances are, when a child is asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he’s not going to say, "I want to be a valve engineer!” or "I’m going to be a flow control expert!”
Yet this industry has attracted some of the most interesting, dedicated people you could ever hope to meet. In the interviews featured here, you’ll learn what drives the men who have shaped the valve industry over the last 75 years: A brilliant inventor with an abiding interest in the cosmos, a young aviator who got his start because the valve company who was recruiting him had a private plane, even a pioneer who braved the wilds of the Middle East long before it was fashionable to vacation in Dubai.
Though their backgrounds are disparate, they have goals that are common to most of us: to do the right thing by making a good product that will safely meet the needs of an increasingly complex world, to enjoy a rich and valuable life, and to leave a legacy of which we all can be proud.
"Randy Cowart: Success is a Family Affair”
When Randy Cowart became president, CEO and chairman of The Wm. Powell Company, he assumed the mantle of only eight predecessors helming a company that has endured for 167 years. A man dedicated to his business and his family, he says, "If you live and die on doing the right thing every day for your employees and your customers in spite of better times/worse times, you will remain successful. You’ll be around despite things like wars, fires, and floods.” MORE
"A.K. Velan: A Universal View of an Earthly Industry”
When asked if building a successful company and gaining wealth was something about which he was proud, the founder of Velan Valves responded this way. "When I was young, I studied the theory and life of Albert Einstein. I liked his philosophy: The worth of a man stands in his capacity to give, not in his capacity to take. Who you are, your successes in life, what others recognize are important if you share. Otherwise, all this is worthless.” MORE
"VMA Through the Eyes of Morris Beschloss”
"I will never forget that moment," said Beschloss of the day, when he was only 30 years old and he was asked to join the board of the Valve Manufacturer’s Association. "I accepted with great humility and have never looked back. I have literally molded my career on that basic premise – that it is about the industry, rather than individual companies." MORE
"Our business is all about people,” says Gil Richards. "Choose good people, keep them happy, have good management, and the results and profits will follow. It’s a no nonsense industry, with many high-quality people.” It’s no wonder, then, that Richards spent more than 50 years in the industry he loves despite finding his career almost by accident, claiming "it was just fate.” MORE
In 1962, a young Ken Chickering supported his love of flying by buying and selling airplanes on the side while working as a petroleum engineer in Mississippi. As luck would have it, just about the time he was ready for a move to Houston, General Valve was looking for a sales engineer. They also had a company airplane, the clincher that lured the promising young man into the valve industry. MORE
While Tom Mignogna may choose his notes carefully while playing his bass fiddle, his choice of careers wasn’t quite so deliberate. "I didn’t really choose the valve business because of valves. When I was starting out, I just went with a company that looked like it had a future!” As for the VMA, he loved the give and take amongst the members. "So many times we would have a mutual problem, and there was no hesitation picking up the phone and talking with each other about it.” MORE