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Home | Executive Outlook | A Conversation with Pat McHale of Graco
Graco President and CEO Pat McHale
CEO and President, Pat McHale, pushes Graco forward with innovative products and high-quality service

A Conversation with Pat McHale of Graco

President and CEO of Graco, Inc.

By Jourdan Porter
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We spoke to Pat McHale, president and CEO of Graco Inc., about the innovations and benefits of their products and how they have impacted the spray foam market. Dedicated to his customers, McHale invites us to learn about the inner workings, ethics, and future of the company. »

Spray Foam Magazine: Starting as a quiet, family-owned business to becoming one of the leading companies in the spray foam industry, tell us about your process of growth.

Pat McHale: Graco got its start nearly 100 years ago when the founder invented an electric-powered grease gun for greasing automobiles. From its earliest days, Graco invested heavily in new product development, continually expanding our product offering into new fluid handling applications and markets. One of the markets we found attractive was spray foam, and through a combination of organic product development and acquisition, we built a solid global position in the space. We continue to invest heavily in R&D, channel partners, and customer service to deliver a continuously improving experience to our  customers.

SFM: As CEO, what are the daily responsibilities and goals of Graco?

PM: My goal is to run the company in a way that benefits all Graco stakeholders—including our shareholders, employees, distributors, suppliers, end users, and the communities in which we do business. Setting clear expectations for financial performance, establishing and maintaining a customer-focused organization, and clearly communicating expectations regarding values and culture are key elements of my job.

Graco president and CEO Pat McHale

An inside look at the daily functions that are conducted in the manufacturing department of Graco

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SFM: Graco claims that ethics and integrity are crucial for the company’s success. In what ways does your company display those values?

PM: Ethics and integrity are not simply a slogan, but a part of our value system reflected every day in the performance of our employees. Internally, we regularly communicate and reinforce expectations regarding business practices and behaviors. Externally, we demonstrate our values through investments in systems and people who provide excellent customer service. We have well-documented practices for dealing with suppliers and distributors to ensure fair, ethical, and transparent relationships.

SFM: You provide many products and solutions for the spray foam distributor and contractor. What specific Graco products are most widely distributed and why?

PM: We pride ourselves on offering
a quality equipment solution for every contractor and every job, from small to large and everything in between. We have transfer pumps, hoses, guns, and of
course, the Reactor proportioner itself. But when you talk about distribution, the biggest value we bring to the table is service—fast, local service. Our broad international base of distribution partners specializes in servicing this industry. When you walk into a Graco Authorized Distributor for spray foam, you’ll find shelves stocked with hundreds of spare and repair parts. We work hard with our distribution partners around the world to provide the best service and parts available in the industry, regardless of geography.

SFM: What is unique about Graco business units (equipment)?

PM: When we come to work every day, we want to make it difficult for contractors to spray bad foam—a goal that’s good for everyone in the industry. We engineer our equipment accordingly, monitoring pressures and temperatures, and warning operators when the numbers deviate from target. We also offer a unique remote monitoring solution called InSite. This platform allows anyone to view the status of their machine from anywhere in the world, and it also provides data on how much material is used, when it was used, and where it was used. We’re focused on innovation, and you’ll continue to see new products from us as we move forward. As service is the cornerstone of our business—if you have a problem, we’ll make it right.

SFM: Aside from spray foam, in what industries are your products used?

PM: We have a number of different business units, each with their own areas of focus. This allows us to operate like a smaller company and know our markets and customers intimately while gaining the benefits of scale at the corporate level. We serve a wide variety of end markets, including construction, automotive, aerospace, agriculture, oil and gas, mining, chemical processing, lubrication, semiconductor, food and beverage, and environmental monitoring, to name a few.

SFM: What are the target markets for the company?

PM: We operate in a wide variety of end markets. In particular, we like targeting markets with demanding application requirements. We tackle challenges such as plural-component applications, precision dispense, and abrasive high-viscosity materials.

SFM: Tell us about the Graco Foundation and what it entails – what are the priorities and accomplishments achieved through this foundation?

PM: The Graco Foundation’s goal is to help organizations serve community needs through capital projects and technology grants, placing emphasis on educational programs, human service programs that promote workforce development, and youth development. We also recognize the generous donations and worthwhile volunteer hours our employees give to their communities, and support them by providing a dollar-for-dollar match on eligible donations, as well as a $1,000 grant to organizations they volunteer with.

SFM: Speaking of achievements, what does the future hold for Graco?

PM: We are positive about the coming decades. Developing markets will drive global demand for goods and services, and new technologies in materials and applications will provide exciting opportunities for Graco’s growth.

SFM: What is your outlook for the spray foam industry in the coming years?

PM: We feel good about the future of spray foam and will continue investing in this application. The long-term benefits of using spray foam should continue driving up preference for the application by decision makers, and population growth and demand for housing will only add to that. In the coming years, we expect to see advancements in materials to benefit the market as well. It’s been a good place to be for many years, and the future looks bright.•

»  For more information, visit www.graco.com.

Photos provided by Graco, Inc.