Henrik Ulrich outlines his Victaulic strategy and explains how he’ll keep the global brand ahead of its local competitors
Henrik Ulrich is a man on a mission. As product development manager for Victaulic, he is tasked with overseeing the development of new products that are “in tune” with the regional market, bridging the gap between Victaulic’s sales department, customers and R&D to ensure demands for innovative products, that meet multiple legislation, are met.
With a degree in export engineering from VIA University College, Horsens, Denmark, the former HVAC sales manager has spent his 15 year professional career working in global exports for the HVAC market and will now oversee Victaulic’s operations in the EMEAI region.
“I have always enjoyed meeting different people and cultures, as well as travelling, and through my work I have found that I have had many opportunities to indulge these passions,” he comments.
“This is still true today and for this reason I still like visiting distributors and enjoy all aspects of direct sales.”
One vital element of his latest role will be to provide an interface with the company’s US based product managers. Described by Victaulic as “vital”, this interface will be the basis for R&D for the EMEAI region and will provide the basis upon which new products are launched.
It’s no simple task, but Ulrich has a simple strategy: “Communication, communication, communication. Keeping as close as possible to everyone, listening carefully and being as open-minded as I can.
“My main role will be to act as a link between sales, the customer and R&D, whilst making sure new developments will be in tune with the EMEAI market demand and make a profit,” he says.
The Victaulic empire is built on mechanical pipe joining systems; specifically a mechanical bolted coupling that can “engage into grooves and use a gasket seal”.
The concept originated in World War I, and developed because of the time and parts savings it facilitated, with the name Victaulic coined by combining the words ‘victory’ and ‘hydraulic’. Over the last 80 years, the company has grown to serve the industrial, commercial and institutional piping industries and today employs more than 3500 people worldwide.
“My aim for this role is to keep Victaulic at the forefront of grooved product innovation, with new products that fulfil the requirements of customers and that continue to help to ease their workload,” Ulrich asserts.
“Because EMEAI consists of multiple countries with different cultures, and legislations, this makes it very important to always be up to date. This will ensure that future products can fulfil the requirements of the market and the legislation of different countries across the region,” he adds.
So far the EMEAI region has demanded a number of products, exclusive to the Victaulic portfolio.
Its high grade fire protection products have most famously been used for Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi and Kayan Utilities, an ethylene production facility in Saudi Arabia.
Pre-fab systems were employed to the Yansab Olefin Plant project in the industrial area of Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, where an existing system was replaced with a Victaulic grooved system. The method reduced the length of the project overall and reduced costs by around 30%, says the company.
Worldwide, Ulrich reports fluctuations in demand, particularly for these grooved and pre-fabricated systems, at times pegged to the skill sets of local workers.
“The EMEAI is a large region and there are trends, for instance in certain parts of Europe, for an increased use of grooved systems, in response to a perceived shortage of skilled welders,” he explains, adding: “I have also noticed a trend towards pre-fabrication, with parts of piping systems being assembled off-site, and mechanical grooved systems playing a role here. Every region has its differences and I am looking forward to learning more about them.”
For now the focus will firmly be on expanding a product portfolio that not only reflects the needs of the region, but also leads it.
“There are amazing opportunities for Victaulic and a growing demand for our products in the coming years. If we look at our current range of products and see their many different applications, the potential is huge. I am looking forward to helping to grow the business and ensuring Victaulic stays ahead of the competition when it comes to R&D,” Ulrich adds.