Victaulic President & CEO Says ‘Innovation is Absolutely Key’ to Company’s Success

By Colin McEvoy on November 4, 2021

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham (left) interviews Victaulic’s Rick Bucher as part of LVEDC’s executive video interview series.

The Forks Township-based Victaulic has origins dating back to more than a century ago, when a British lieutenant was trying to figure out how to get fuel and water to the troops during World War I. He realized pipes could be joined more quickly and safely with a mechanical coupling, which led to what would become the company’s first patent in 1919.

“Innovation is absolutely key to the company; we started with an innovation,” said Rick Bucher, President & CEO of Victaulic. “… And to this day we have had that long-term focus on customer intimacy, understanding what the customer’s problems are and developing novel, value-added solutions that help them do their jobs better.”

Bucher was the subject in the final entry of the latest weekly series the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) conducted with new corporate leaders with some of Lehigh Valley’s leading companies and largest employers.

New videos in the executive interview series were released each Thursday on LVEDC’s Facebook page. Past interviews can be found on the organization’s YouTube channel as well as its website. The full interview with Bucher can be viewed below:

Victaulic, the leading manufacturer of mechanical pipe joining solutions and grooved pipe joining systems, is one of the largest employers in the Lehigh Valley, with about 1,200 employees in the region and more than 4,000 globally. The company operates more than 40 facilities across the world, including 13 manufacturing facilities and 5 foundries.

Bucher became President of Victaulic in April 2020 and CEO in January 2021. He joined the company in 2009 as Vice President of Product Development, and served as Executive Vice President of Technology and Product Development from 2016 to 2019. He is also an inventor or co-inventor himself on 21 different patents or patent applications.

“My entire career, I have had a passion for thinking outside the box, thinking of how we can do something different that adds value for the customers,” he said. “You don’t do that by yourself, you do that as part of a team, a collaborative team working together.”

Victaulic has two manufacturing facilities and two foundries in the Lehigh Valley, most recently having built a 400,000 square-foot facility in Lower Nazareth Township. Bucher said that facility is already partially operational, and is expected to be fully operational by the early fall.

The company has more than 100,000 products in its portfolio and more than 5,000 patents around the world, Bucher said. Notable projects that include its piping, joint, and valve products include the Hoover Dam, Eiffel Tower, Beijing Olympic Stadium, and New York’s Hudson Yards.

“If you drive down the street in the Lehigh valley or anywhere in the United States, taking single-family homes out of the equation, Victaulic products are probably in about 60% of those buildings somewhere,” Bucher said.

The interview was conducted by LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham. Among the other topics discussed were the future of U.S. and global manufacturing, the increase in automation in recent years, and Victaulic’s relationship with the United Steelworkers.

Past interviews in the LVEDC executive series have highlighted such companies as Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Cigars International, Lehigh Valley Plastics, Mack Trucks, Olympus Corporation of the Americas, and PPL Electric Utilities.

LVEDC had also launched an initial series of 10 video interviews in the fall of 2020.

Sponsors for the series include presenting sponsor Lehigh Valley Health Network; premier sponsor Capital BlueCross; gold sponsor Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba; event sponsors Boyle Construction, Klunk & Millan Advertising, Olympus Corporation of the Americas, interview sponsor Victaulic, and production sponsor Countess Communications.

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This column, written by LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham, originally appeared in The Morning Call and on the newspaper's website on October 21, 2021. (Click here to re[...]

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