Building A Business In Your Bathroom: Jay Gould On Saving American Standard

American Standard, the 130-year-old Piscataway, NJ maker of toilets, faucets and bathtubs, was in trouble in 2012 when Jay Gould, a veteran of Newell Rubbermaid, Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola and General Mills, took over as CEO. Bain had bought the company in 2007 and the next year, sold most of the $1 billion (sales) North American business to another private equity firm, Sun Capital. Things went downhill from there. In the fourth quarter of 2011, American Standard lost $20 million. Gould seems to have gotten the company back on track. In June he orchestrated a $342 million sale to Lixil, a $16 billion (sales) publicly traded toilet maker in Japan. From a 3% revenue decline in 2011, Gould says sales have risen 9%-10% a year at American Standard and gross margins have climbed from 15% to 22%. Today I talked to Gould, 54, about the leadership lessons he learned during his career and how that helped him turn around American Standard. I?ve edited and condensed our conversation.

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