There's a quiet revolution going on at Senco Fastening Systems, hidden from view by the lush green lawns and leafy trees that surround Cincinnati, and camouflaged within a calm corporate culture. Its leader is the company's soft-spoken, progressive president, Rick Gerwe, who is creating a sense of excitement in a 50-year-old workhorse company that's more typically seen in entrepreneurial start-ups.
"My toughest job as president is to keep our company thinking about change," Gerwe says. "That means more focus on what we can do than on what we are doing."
In a company where 30-year employees are common, a relatively new president coming in to inspire change could face a challenge. But Gerwe's 33-year tenure at Senco, 25 of which were spent in human resources, has earned him trust among the veterans. And his deep knowledge of the company's past guides him as he looks to its future and his second year at the helm.
Gerwe's vision includes aggressive moves to leverage Senco's brand into new tool categories and markets, without straying too far from the company's core business. "We see ourselves as a powered fastening company," says Gerwe, "not just pneumatics." And that opens up a lot of new territory.
The rollout of new products in the past year is unprecedented for the company. They include AirFree cordless electric nailers, DuraSpin collated screwguns, and fully featured XtremePro pneumatic nailers. And for the first time, the company has introduced a mid price-point line of nailers called the ProSeries, which addresses the needs of younger carpenters building up their tool arsenals.
Not only does Gerwe have his sights set on younger buyers, he's also addressing the burgeoning Hispanic workforce by beefing up Senco's field teams with multi-lingual sales reps. The company also offers jobsite safety training and tool operation programs for contractors in Spanish.
"Innovation has to be more than just continuous improvement," Gerwe says, "so we're going to keep rolling out new products and push forward on electric power tools. But we won't stray from our customers who are all pros." All this will hold Gerwe and his team to Senco's new slogan: Hard work, bring it on.