New Year Message and Thoughts While Showering

By Larry Rybacki, President, SIGMA Corporation

First of all, I want to wish all of you (employees and customers) a very happy and healthy New Year. We at SIGMA Corp are grateful to the 320 plus employees and their families for all they do to make us a better and more efficient company. Through hard work and dedication, and some "fun" along the way, we have built a strong organization that is committed to the Water, Sewer, Fire Protection, Industrial, and Plumbing Industries. However, we all realize the key to success lies with you, our customers and as we reflect on year-end reviews we are truly  grateful   for the friendship and support you have shown all of us--and especially me--throughout the years. From the bottom of my heart - Thank You!
When I look back on 2019, I see a year that was challenging, to say the least. The Industry was flat-to-down as many of us manufacturers were up slightly in sales but in terms of units or pounds shipped we were actually down slightly. A typical year in the Water Works Industry is between 3-4% growth, but not 2019 as housing was better but still not "normal" (at about 1.25 million homes). Public or government related work was OK, but far from strong and far less than what is needed.
Flat has become the new normal and that's disappointing. All of us like growth to create opportunities for our people, to fund capital expenditures, and provide for research and development. From 1959 - 2019, the average yearly housing starts were 1.45 million and many of you have heard me talk about this as the "number of units the Water Works Industry needs to be strong". The housing market peaked in 1972 (not 2006 as many people think) at over 2.3 million, and bottomed out in 2009 where they numbered under 500,000.
Why talk so much about housing and single family homes in particular? Simple, it's our lifeblood. In good times housing is about 65% of our business, but since 2008 it's been between 30% and 50%. There is good news on the horizon, however.
1.  There is a shortage of homes nationwide and supply and demand has a way of creating opportunities.

2.  Almost 5 million millennials will be turning 30 years old this year. Typically, most first-time home buyers are between the ages of 30 and 40.

3.  Contrary to what many people think, not all millennials want to live in the heart of our major cities. When they get married, pay down their student debt, and start a family, the majority will migrate to the suburbs and buy a home.

4.  Affordable housing - Areas that can provide affordable housing will continue to flourish. These include the Southeast (Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, etc.), the Southwest (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas), and parts of the Midwest (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota). The challenge is the West (especially California), and the Northeast, where a real estate bubble has been created.

5.  Infrastructure spend - The one thing that both parties agree on will become a reality sometime in the near future, but more than likely not in 2020.
All in all, the "Polish" crystal ball sees 2020 as more of the same. I see it as very similar to 2019 with a slight uptick in housing and consistent public spend so the new "normal" will be in effect.
Thoughts While Showering
1.  Nashville - If you need an uplifting experience visit Nashville, which really is "Boomtown". I've never seen so many cranes in one city in my lifetime. Great city, great people, and it will continue to grow.

2.  Tariffs - The antithesis of a "free market" is the implementation of tariffs. They are not good for anybody but especially not good for the poor. Can't wait for them to be over with.

3.  Old Farts - It's nice to go to industry events and see so many "old farts" like myself who keep showing up year after year. The wonderful part of the industry is the people and the fact that once you're in - you never leave!

4.  Uber - Ripley's Believe It or Not called me the other day to verify my daughter Leanna's new world record of 111 Uber rides in a month. Seems this senior from Boston University takes an Uber from class to class instead of walking the almost 500 feet! Yes, it's the same Leanna who ran me over!

5.    Education  - Once again in worldwide testing the United States did not finish in the top 10 in any of the 3 categories: Math, Reading, and Science. China and Singapore finished first and second in all three but the immeasurable is "free thinking" and the ability to communicate. That's where we Americans shine!

6.  JFK Library - Chris and I made our first visit to beautiful Columbia Point and visited John Fitzgerald Kennedy's library, which was fascinating. No matter what political party you're associated with you'll be interested by what politics was like 60 years ago. They were actually polite and civil to each other! What a novel idea!
In conclusion, I want to wish all of you a belated Happy Holiday Season and wish you all a very satisfying and rewarding 2020!

Thank you,
Introducing:  SIGMAZINC
According to industry estimates, it costs the US about $36 billion a year to fix the damage caused by corrosion to our water and sewer systems. Corrosion protection is a key consideration for utilities and municipalities for preserving their infrastructure assets. SIGMAZINC coatings inhibit corrosion and can extend the lifetime of a fitting by a factor of between 10-100x.

  • Zinc coatings act as both a physical and galvanic barrier between the bare metal (ductile iron) and the oxidation processes, which causes corrosion.
  • A zinc-rich layer between an asphalt topcoat and the DI protects the pipe or fitting by oxidizing before the DI, adding a new barrier of zinc oxide under the topcoat.
  • Zinc has the unique power to self-heal in many environments. Other standard coatings such as FBE (Fusion Bonded Epoxy) do not possess this quality.
  • Unlike FBE, Zinc will not chip.
  • Zinc requires no special installation or repair procedures. 
There are two international specifications for zinc coatings on ductile iron pipes, ISO 8179-1 and ISO 8179 -2; SIGMA can meet both of these with SIGMAZINC1 and SIGMAZINC2. ISO 8179-1, also known as "Metalized Zinc" is applied by spraying a thin layer of metallic zinc on a pipe or fitting.   The -1 spec requires not less than 200 g/m 2. ISO 8179-2, also known as "Zinc Rich Paint Coat" is thicker than -1 and its spec requires a higher deposition of not less than 235 g / m2 . Both SIGMAZINC1 fittings (8179-1 compliant) and SIGMAZINC2 fittings (8179-2 compliant) are supplied with a topcoat of black asphaltic paint, which acts as a sealant and allows the slow formation of zinc compound to form a barrier protecting the iron surface from corrosive attack.

SIGMAZINC1 and SIGMAZINC2 applications are equally durable and reliable. However, SIGMA recommends SIGMAZINC2 as its preferred option for waterworks customers due to logistics and repair capabilities. In the field, both -1 and -2 repairs are always conducted using ZINC-2 coating.
For more information about SIGMAZINC products, please contact your local sales manager. http://www.sigmaco.com/contact/.
2019: The Year of the Tariff

by Mitchell Rona, Executive Vice President, #GlobalSourcerer
As we moved toward the end of 2019, tariffs continued to affect our industry. As a result, 2019 was a challenging year for many sourcing professionals. We are all in it together, as we see consequences and tremors up and down the supply chain. As the tariffs linger, there continues to be discussion about the value of using an established OEM service, or attempting to build an in-country presence and go it alone. The risk of starting a ground up operation overseas is significant, with many unforeseen minefields, which can result in disaster. Additionally, the costs associated with staffing, relocating personnel, and operating in an unfamiliar business culture can be enormous.
Prudent business professionals are continuing to monitor the situation and optimize their existing suppliers, while exploring sourcing options in other markets. If an alternative is sought, it is crucial to select a reputable and experienced partner. SIGMA OEM has boots on the ground in all of our overseas facilities, which include India, Korea, Indonesia, and China. We also have sources in Israel and Mexico, and will add direct SIGMA resources as business levels demand.
For information on SIGMA OEM services, please contact oem@sigmaco.com .
Introducing HYDROline PRO Prism  

SIGMA is proud to introduce HYDROline PRO Prism, a new range of HYDROline PRO trench drains in designer colors to meet the increasing demand for both aesthetics and performance in drainage. The new line was created to enhance landscapes, pool decks, gardens, parks, spas, locker rooms, gyms, country clubs, and pedestrian areas. The current color palate includes Pearl Dark Grey, Beige Brown, Tomato Red, Signal Orange, Pearl Green, and Oyster White, however, SIGMA can produce virtually any color desired.
These colorful new HYDROline PRO Prism options retain the industry-leading design and performance specifications of the original black powder coated product, while adding a vibrant new look. Features include:
  • High-grade alloyed aluminum low profile channel
  • Corrosion and chemical resistance
  • 9.84'/3m long monolithic channels
  • Factory fabricated channel elements for complex layouts
  • Outlet elements made of aluminum and/or stainless steel with 4" vertical outlet
  • Patented width extension flanges along both sides of the channel to easily increase system capture and flow rates
  • Highly abrasion resistant powder coating RAL 9005 
Todd Amerson, National Trench Drain Product Manager, comments, "We saw an opportunity to reach a new base of customers with this product line. This offering hits a key spot in the market--engineers and contractors are focused on the performance and specs while architects and designers emphasize the aesthetic elements; HYDROline PRO Prism satisfies both priorities. It also enables end users to have significant choice. With this aesthetically enhanced HYDROline PRO offering, we can meet the design requirements of all types of customers and applications."
For additional information on this and other drainage products, please contact tamerson@sigmaco.com 609-286-8861.
SIGMA Denver Office Open for Business      

SIGMA is pleased to announce that our new Denver location is fully operational. This satellite location is a branch of our Midwest regional office. It was established to serve the customers in the Denver area, which has seen significant, ongoing growth and development. In order to deliver product efficiently and meet the needs of our expanding customer base in this region, SIGMA made it a priority to put "boots on the ground" in Denver. Under the leadership of Regional Manager Charlie Kyle and Territory Sales Manager Dave Brugger, the onsite team has been steadily building the inventory to necessary levels, and is ready to serve customers in Colorado and the surrounding states.
The new office is located at 22700 I-76 Frontage Road in Brighton, CO, 80603. Orders can be placed via the Midwest Regional Office at 888-999-0420, or with Dave Brugger at db1@sigmaco.com.
Raju Kakani Receives 2020 Ones to Watch Award from CIO Executive Council  

SIGMA's Vice President of Information services, Raju Kakani,was recently recognized as a 2020 "Ones to Watch" honoree by IDG's CIO and IDC's CIO Executive Council.
The Ones to Watch award spotlights rising technology leaders who have what it takes to become the strategic, C-level business technology executives of  tomorrow. Raju is joined by leaders from IBM, PepsiCo, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Bose and others on this high-profile list.
A panel of judges, recruited from the CIO Executive Council's IT leader membership, carefully reviewed submissions and selected 50 technology professionals for this honor. These individuals possess an essential blend of communications and collaboration skills, as well as a keen understanding of business goals.
Raju will accept the award at the AGENDA20 Conference held March 23-25 in Jacksonville, Florida.
SIGMA salutes Raju for earning this prestigious award, thanks him for his excellent service to the company, and wishes him continued success.
Welcome to SIGMA, Will Stafford  
SIGMA is pleased to welcome Will Stafford as Accounts Receivable Manager to our Corporate Headquarters in Cream Ridge, NJ. Will comes to SIGMA with over 20 years of experience in the accounts receivable space, and has served in a number of industries, including manufacturing, media, and publishing. His approach to the business is strategic and inclusive: "I always look at the existing structures and build on what is successful. I've already conducted an analysis of SIGMA's systems, and the good news is we have a strong team of accounting professionals with a lot of knowledge and expertise, so I am looking forward to being part of a very inclusive collaboration. I always take a methodical approach, finding my niche and where my skill set can best support and impact the organization." Will holds a degree in Accounting with a minor in Finance from Temple University.

When he's not crunching numbers for SIGMA, he enjoys spending time with his large family. He also is passionate about golf, and is a motorcycle and car enthusiast.

Will can be reached at wstafford@sigmaco.com or 609-498-7398.
Meet SIGMA:  Brandon Ward, Inside Sales Representative
Brandon Ward joined the SIGMA team six years ago. He has moved from customer service to insides sales, but he remains deeply focused on the customer. He explains, "I've been working in customer service since I was 15 years old. Every job I've ever had has been very customer driven." Prior to SIGMA, he worked in the aerospace industry, as well as in hardware sales and distribution, "Basically, I found stuff for customers, so the move to SIGMA was familiar territory."
Brandon's approach to the business is simple:   "Every single customer, every single transaction, every order is different. One does not connect to the next, so the key is to build the personal relationship. I work to manage expectations, and take a very customer-centric approach."
In his spare time, Brandon is a self-described "travel nerd." Recent trips have involved hiking to the top of Machu Picchu, and another to Paris and London. He will be getting married later this month, and the happy couple will honeymoon in the Middle East, Germany and the French Riviera.
Brandon can be reached at  bward@sigmaco.com  or 800-688-6230.
SIGMA Shines in Alexander City Christmas Parade   

Every year, the Alexander City, AL Chamber of Commerce hosts a Christmas parade inviting local businesses to create floats to showcase their wares and celebrate the festive season. This year, SIGMA took center stage courtesy of Mark Gandy, owner of Lil A Transportation, who pulls loads for SIGMA. Mark, who happens to be married to SIGMA Receiving Clerk Jessica Gandy, constructed a Christmas tree out of SIGMA fittings and other products. He also borrowed a 1930 Model A classic car to augment the decorations. Special thanks to Mark for all his hard work, and for being such a great SIGMA partner.
"Pink Out" Raises Funds and Awareness for Breast Cancer Foundation    

Front Row - Left to right
Karen Barone- Accounts Payable Manager
Michelle Hacker- Imports/Compliance
Becky Matthews- Accounts Payable - Freight
Ratna Yeramilli- Senior Finance Manager
Cynthia Pais- Accounts Payable -Domestic
Julie Bell-Customer Service
Latha Kakani- Accounts Payable
Vicky Ruffino- Accounts Payable
Sandra Salins- Finance
Back Row - Left to Right
Brandi Hacker- Assistant/imports
Renee Cohen- Customer Service-OEM
Kaitlyn Hafford-Accounts Payable -Imports
Don Muller-Controller
Cynthia Errico-Imports/Compliance
Patty Velazquez-Import Logistics & Compliance Manager

Employees in the Northeast Regional Office participated in the "Pink Out", an annual event that supports the Young Women's Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation.  With several breast cancer survivors among them, the group wore pink in solidarity and support of their colleagues and others battling the disease.  The shirts were sold as a fundraiser and the proceeds were donated to the foundation
Spotlight on SIGMA 

We at SIGMA place tremendous value on our SIGMA family. With that in mind, we celebrate the joy and success of our employees and their loved ones, and we share their good news...   

From the Northeast Region:

Congratulations to Melissa Heredia, OEM Customer Service Representative, who gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Evelyn Rhys Heredia arrived on October 15, weighing in at 7 lbs, 12 oz. Everyone in the family is happy and healthy.

Congratulations to Mike Roy, Territory Sales Manager, for being inducted into the Algonquin High School Hall of Fame. Mike played both hockey and golf for the school, but his Hall of Fame status came from his 17 years coaching the hockey team. Mike comments, "It's a whole lot easier to be a good coach with good players. I tried to motivate the kids, teaching them that with good teammates and strategies they can achieve success." Mike attended the ceremony with his family, including his wife, son, daughter, sister-in-law and nephew. SIGMA President Larry Rybacki, Regional Sales Manager Mike Walsh, and Regional Sales Manager Chris King are also alumni of the school, and Chris King, a fellow member of the Algonquin Hall of Fame, was on hand for Mike's induction ceremony.

Congratulations to Victoria Ruffino, Accounts Payable Associate, on her granddaughter Gianna Ruffino's success as a competitive cheerleader. Gianna's team, the Edison Jets Pop Warner Cheer Team, competed in the National Cheer Tournament in Orlando Florida and came in 3rd place overall. Congratulations to all of the team members and their families!