One of RWC’s sales directors on an ever-adapting plumbing industry and the power of embracing creativity.
Without the passionate and talented people on our team, HoldRite wouldn’t be the respected plumbing manufacturer it is today. So, we’re highlighting one of the people who help deliver solutions that make pros’ lives easier.
Today, we’re chatting with Jason Hawk, RWC director of sales for the Northeast region, which includes the New England and Mid-Atlantic, New York, and New Jersey metro markets. Jason has been with us for 22 years and spends much of his time working to develop, implement and execute the Contractor Solutions Team strategy.
1. Tell us about your role and who you serve.
Contractor Solutions is a unique and dynamic team that delivers innovative, engineered solutions and services for all the different stakeholders on the job site. We solve for efficiency during the construction cycle of a project and serve the plumbing, mechanical and electrical trade contractors; general contractors; engineers; inspectors; and wholesalers to implement these efficiencies.
2. Tell us about your background and how you got to RWC.
How I got to RWC is a serendipitous journey and a bit reminiscent of the classic tale that starts with, “A guy walks into a bar…” My version goes something like this.
The bar chat
In early 2000, I found myself back from another year’s long adventure through the far-flung reaches of Southeast Asia. I had spent the past 11 years on a nomadic adventure of self-discovery around the world, seeking out inspiration in far off places like New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Belize and Costa Rica — just to name a few. Stuck on a “layover” in San Diego, I was busy pouring drinks to tourists and planning my next big adventure when a guy walked into my bar.
That day, my friend at the bar told me that his company was looking to hire someone to sell the stuff they made. When he told me HoldRite’s business was manufacturing plumbing brackets, I poured us both a shot and told him that sounded about as interesting to me as going back to college to finish that college degree. (Sorry mom, but that ship had sailed). He must have caught me at a weak moment, or maybe I was just finally getting tired of working in bars and living in cars, (there’s a country song in there somewhere), but the next thing I know, I was having a chat with the owner of HoldRite to see what this company was all about.
The business chat
After two or three hours of good conversation and storytelling, the owner of HoldRite, Michelle Hubbard, looked at me as she reviewed my creatively crafted “resume” and said, “I’m not sure how bartending at beach bars, picking zucchini’s in Australia, laying fiber optic cable in California, working on a deer farm in New Zealand, renting surf boards and selling T-shirts to tourists in Bali, planting trees in Alaska, working in a newspaper in Bangkok, or being a scuba diving assistant in Thailand and the Philippines is going to translate into selling HoldRite to plumbing contractors, but you’re an interesting character and I’m willing to give you a chance if you’ll give my family one.”
The next adventure
Little did I know at the time, but I had just found my next big adventure and my new inspiration that would take me on an unforgettable journey for the next 22 years — and counting. My first day as part of the HoldRite family was July 19, 2000, and that new-hire welcome letter is framed and still hanging prominently on my wall. HoldRite was a family-owned, innovation-focused company that was committed as much to its people and their success as it was to converting makeshift methods into engineered solutions for plumbing contractors.
Lucky for me, that inspiration that I crave, that quest for adventure that I seek out, and that sense of family culture and values that I desire, still lives on for me today at RWC.
3. Given your years of experience, how have you seen the industry and customer needs evolve over time?
“Necessity is the mother of invention” is a well-known proverb that means, roughly, that the primary driving force for most new inventions is need. A driving force behind the evolving needs of the plumbing industry that I see most is the skilled labor shortages it has faced for years now, as well as supply chain issues.
This has caused the need for everyone in the construction industry to do more with less and make changes faster than some might expect. It’s driving innovative solutions in product development and encouraging creative material adoption. It’s forcing companies to reimagine the way they do things and implement a more collaborative approach with plumbing contractors and suppliers. It has also driven the industry’s rapid convergence with technological advancements like virtual reality, 3-D information modeling and rapid implementation of prefabrication.
It’s affecting the way companies approach recruiting and retention too. The need to attract and retain talent has never been more important, and I see every company putting a focus on things like work-life balance, diversity and inclusion, training and development, etc.
4. What excites you about the future of the industry?
Historically, and comparatively, the plumbing industry has been slow to change. Companies like RWC that are adaptable, passionate about innovation and demonstrate the commitment to embrace creativity and change will thrive no matter the headwinds they face. With change comes opportunity, and the future of the industry is ripe with opportunities for anyone willing to step up, create their own destiny and write their own exciting story.
5. What are the more challenging parts of your job?
There are challenges to face at every twist and turn along this journey, and without them, it wouldn’t be much of an adventure.
The challenge for me these past few years is keeping up with all the company changes and staying up to date on information from RWC’s many departments and initiatives. That’s why I appreciate the company’s regional bi-annual newsletters so much. This internal communication for the Americas outlines the major news and updates of the past six months at RWC, including employee spotlights, diversity and inclusion initiatives, product updates, customer success stories, operations and supply chain updates and more. There is a lot going on here at RWC! Seeing how it’s all connected and working together to ensure a growing and successful company is inspiring.
6. What do you enjoy the most?
I love the stories that are woven into the fabric of my job at RWC, and I love the rich characters in those stories whom I meet and interact with along the way. I love adventure, and the long and arduous twists and turns that come with building a company. I love the creativity that is inspired by and born out of the need for change. I love seeing the interconnectivity of a company’s highly motivated cross-functional teams play out as they execute initiatives and, together, realize superior results.
The success of a company is born from passionate people’s commitment and creativity, and I love being a part of it.
7. How have you seen your work make an impact? Why is this work important to you?
I was given a chance to be a part of a team when there were a heck of a lot more qualified people out there than me looking for a shot at that job. I’ve approached this job, and this industry, with passion, commitment, creativity and a sense of adventure that has been as fulfilling and as rewarding as anything else I’ve done. It’s a big, meaningful part of my story.
I hope along the way I can inspire others to take a chance and bring their own passions to the RWC team, this industry, and allow me the honor of being a memorable character in their own unforgettable story.