Success in an Innovative Industry Starts with an Innovative CEO
Written by: Amanda Strouse, Marketing and Public Relations, Nu Flow America
Fifteen years ago, Cameron Manners worked for his uncle as a drain pipe lining technician in Oshawa, Ontario. At D.M Robichaud, he relined large-diameter pipes for municipalities using unique, no-dig technology. Manners witnessed this innovative process change the construction industry and knew that if this type of technology was used for pipes inside buildings, it could benefit those industries as well.
Manners went to his superiors with his ideas to expand the business but they were shot down. Believing wholeheartedly in the need for epoxy pipe lining in this untapped market, he quit and started his own company. With his home’s garage as his initial work space, he studied epoxies and single-handedly developed a new, trenchless pipe lining solution. In 1998, Manners founded Nu Flow in Toronto, Ontario, which would use his patented drain line technology for small diameter pipes, later to be called Nu Drain.
As cliché as it might sound, Manners simply started with a dream and built an empire.
Six years after its inception, Nu Flow had a presence in three countries, a Canadian manufacturing plant to produce its pipe lining equipment and almost 200 licensees. Manners’ technicians lined drain pipes in all types of buildings: residential, commercial, industrial, municipal and federal. Nu Flow was strong, innovative and promising, but Manners knew that in order to succeed in this industry, you must widen your customer base as much as possible.
In 2005, Nu Flow merged with American Pipe Lining to become the first and only company with dual technologies for small diameter pipe systems. APL’s founder brought epoxy pipe lining to North America in the early 1980s and established APL in 1987. The company spent almost two decades working with the U.S. government and military, municipalities throughout Canada and the U.S., hospitals and residential properties. Nu Flow utilizes APL’s epoxy solution for potable, HVAC, fire suppression, and other compressed air and chemical lines. This was Nu Flow’s missing piece that would propel it to international dominance.
Presently, Nu Flow has six regional offices throughout Canada and the United States, as well as more than 300 licensees throughout every continent except for South America and Antarctica. Nu Flow is the global leader for in-place pipe rehabilitation solutions inside buildings, is licensed under 21 patents and is still the only company that has the different technologies to line both drain and clean water/air pipe systems from 1/2” to 12” in diameter. These unique solutions ensure Nu Flow has the widest customer base out of all the companies in its business.
Industry leaders want to do work with other industry leaders. Nu Flow has worked for some of the biggest Canadian colleges, some of the most popular Canadian malls, some of the most well-known restaurant chains, theme parks, luxurious hotels, a world-renown soft drink provider, as well as some of the most famous skyscrapers throughout Canada and the United States. These prestigious customers have utilized Nu Flow’s pipe system rehabilitation processes to remain open for business during our work, while preserving the structures, landscape and hardscape that surround the pipes, which ultimately save the businesses money.
“Watching my ideas and dreams affect so many people and businesses is extremely rewarding,” said Manners. “Being the CEO of a startup, I get to create plans and ideas that mature in front of my eyes.”
Nu Flow’s success stems from Manners’ inquisitive and inventive nature. With innovative leadership comes an innovative company. Manners refuses to stay complacent with Nu Flow, so his eyes and ears are always open regarding ways to improve products and services. He also dedicates a portion of his time working to spread the growth of Nu Flow across the rest of the world.
“The ultimate goal is to get Nu Flow in every city and every country on the planet and intimidate all other competition,” said Manners. “So you have to create and implement strategies that will make that happen.”
As Nu Flow celebrates its 15th birthday this year, Manners’ roots of being a technician are still visible – he has always been a technician who strives to find new tools that will improve results and make customers happier. Except now, his office isn’t his garage.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.