Michael Werner, president and CEO, Gerber Plumbing Fixtures LLC

Turnaround – Finalist

In the midst of the worst housing market depression in recorded history, Michael Werner, president and CEO of Gerber Plumbing Fixtures LLC, has managed to revitalize the Chicago plumbing products manufacturer. Werner has transformed Gerber from a company that was just days away from bankruptcy and liquidation into one of the strongest and most vital suppliers in the plumbing wholesale channel.

Beginning in the 1990s, Gerber failed to make changes that would be necessary to survive in a global economy. By 2003, Gerber was facing declining sales, quality and customer fulfillment. The company hadn’t launched a new product in five years and went from high profits to significant losses. The previous CEO had resigned and the company was being run by a turnaround group. Despite these changes, Gerber continued to operate as it had for the previous 20 years.

Werner had a different vision for the struggling company. He bought Gerber and added it to Globe Union Industrial Corp., a supplier and manufacturer of plumbing products. By globalizing Gerber’s manufacturing, Werner effectively took a more than 70-year-old company and infused it with the energy passion of a start-up. He introduced more than 800 products, rebuilt its professional brand heritage through delivering exceptional product performance and offered world class customer service fulfillment and quality. Werner transformed Gerber into one of the nation’s leading complementary sanitary ware suppliers.

Faced with a depressed housing market and an industry that had contracted by 40 percent, Werner managed to grow Gerber’s sales by 30 percent, nearly doubling its market share. By utilizing its existing heritage and its sanitary ware products distribution base, Werner once again returned Gerber to prosperity while also growing Globe Union.

How to Reach: Gerber Plumbing Fixtures LLC, www.gerberonline.com