Leadership runs deep in the DNA of Walt Rodgers. His mother was a prominent member of South Carolina’s House of Representatives, and his father was a colonel who worked for the United States Department of the Army. Those jobs took the family around the world, and the values Rodgers picked up along the way became the foundation for his life and career.
“I learned to be adaptable and connect with people,” he says. Today, he is continuing his family legacy of servant leadership as a business and HR veteran as RelaDyne’s chief human resources officer.
Soon after graduating from Wake Forest University with a bachelor’s degree in business, Rodgers started working at Ferguson Enterprises, a Virginia-based value-added distributor across residential, nonresidential, new construction and repair, maintenance, and improvement (RMI) end markets. Ferguson was on a tremendous growth trajectory; Rodgers worked in sales and operations to help the company double in size roughly every five years.
Ferguson’s management training program started an important development progression for him. He managed locations, then regions, and ultimately, an entire business group. Rodgers, like his parents before him, was a natural leader. “My responsibilities grew when I had an opportunity to guide careers and anchor that with great customer service,” he explains.
Rodgers stayed at Ferguson for nearly twenty-eight years and spent twenty-five of those years working alongside friend and colleague Larry Stoddard. The teams and business units they led helped bring in billions of dollars as they learned to build what Rodgers calls a “high-speed, low-drag” organization that was dedicated to its customers for the benefit of associates and shareholders.
In 2010, Stoddard became president and CEO of RelaDyne, an established leader in lubricant sales, distribution, and equipment reliability services. One of his first calls was to several old friends from Ferguson. But Stoddard didn’t want Rodgers to head up a business unit—he wanted him to build and lead a robust human resources function.
Although Rodgers was an operations leader, he had also helped develop internal talent, introduce training curricula, and create a leadership pipeline for Ferguson’s parent company. Stoddard knew Rodgers could execute his vision to make RelaDyne an employer of choice and attract the right talent to gain market share and make an impact.
Under his leadership, recruiters are identifying and onboarding talented, motivated people with an entrepreneurial spirit. That’s because RelaDyne is about more than its products—leaders are creating a customer-centric business that is anchored by safety and provides solutions, services, and value. RelaDyne is focused on innovation. “Our associates make us different,” Rodgers says, adding that those associates and the company’s capabilities will differentiate it from its competitors.
In some ways, Rodgers and Stoddard are replicating the playbook they learned, practiced, and perfected at Ferguson. “We were trained by the best, and we knew we had the opportunity to replicate the culture of excellence and a desire for continuous improvement,” Rodgers says.
That culture and mindset guides everything. RelaDyne has gone from two hundred employees to two thousand. The company is using the best technology and building a large fleet of trucks. Still, Rodgers knows it is the people—not the computers or the vehicles—that power RelaDyne.
Some of the company’s growth has been organic, while some has come through a calculated series of strategic acquisitions. In 2019, RelaDyne purchased CIRCOR International’s services division, including its six brands, making it a significant global player. Other key moves on the traditional side, including the acquisitions of Cardwell Distributing, Western Marketing, PPC Lubricants and New West Oil, have opened new regional markets. The deals also bring new talent and new leaders into the RelaDyne ecosystem.
RelaDyne hosts a town hall after each merger so new associates can learn about the company’s culture, customs, and opportunities. “We stand in front of new associates and tell them they’re in a special place,” Rodgers says. “I want them to know we’re going to take care of them, invest in their future, and give them the tools they need to succeed and build a rewarding career.”
RelaDyne offers competitive salaries and robust, comprehensive benefits packages that include free medical insurance plan options, no-cost life insurance, and HSAs, retirement plans with an employer match and more.
In March 2022, RelaDyne unveiled My.RelaDyne.com, the company’s new and enhanced portal designed to make online ordering and account management easier than ever before. With the right teams, tools, and equipment in place, Stoddard, Rodgers, and their colleagues are pursuing a new goal—they want to see RelaDyne continue to bring innovation and opportunity to its associates, customers, and key stakeholders.