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Ralph Howard is presently GM-Specialty Brands for W.W. Grainger, Inc. With 2010 sales of $7.2B, Grainger is the leading broad line supplier of facilities maintenance products. The Specialty Brands business(formerly Lab Safety Supply, Inc) is comprised of 9 unique brands with customer focused product lines and services. Some of the brands include Lab Safety Supply, Imperial, Gempler's, Ben Meadows and McFeely's.
Prior to joining Grainger in 2009, Ralph was President of Canac Cabinets, which was a multi-national Kohler Company business with over 1,900 associates throughout North America. Canac was the largest manufacturer of frameless kitchen cabinetry, servicing both the new construction and remodeling consumer markets.
Over the course of his career, Ralph has worked for four blue-chip companies, beginning in 1985 with Pella Windows and Doors in Pella, Iowa. Pella is a privately-held billion dollar corporation well known for producing high-quality windows and fenestration products. He also spent eight years in leadership positions with Master Lock Company in Milwaukee. Master Lock is the world leader in padlocks and security products, and is a unit of publicly-traded conglomerate Fortune Brands.
Ralph worked for Kohler Company twice during his career, amassing over 11 years of combined service. Prior to running Canac, he was Vice President of Sales for Kohler's multi-billion dollar plumbing business, and he was also Vice President and business leader for the Sterling brand. Kohler is the privately-held global leader in plumbing products and power systems. He has built and managed both large and small businesses, and he's been in leadership positions through three significant business turnarounds during his career.
Prior to general management, Ralph worked in multiple disciplines with the previously mentioned companies. He started as a Service Engineer and he advanced through the ranks of marketing, sales and business management.
Academically, he holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and he's a Harvard Business School alumnus as a graduate of the prestigious General Manager Program in Boston. He's currently an outside director on the boards of two privately-held companies and he's the founder of "Howard Leadership Services™". He's a passionate and enjoyable speaker and can be reached at .