When Randy Hogan interviewed for the chief executive officer position at Minnesota-based Pentair in 2001, he laid out a radical strategy for the company’s growth: sell Pentair’s power-tool manufacturing business—its largest operating unit—and invest more heavily in its smaller water purification and technologies operation.
The strategy worked. A little more than 12 years later, with Hogan as CEO, Pentair is a global leader in providing products and systems that facilitate the movement, treatment, and storage of water.
During that time, Pentair’s revenue nearly doubled, to $3.5 billion, and its workforce, now at 16,000, increased by almost 15 percent. The company’s philanthropic Pentair Foundation has directed more than $20 million toward supporting energy and water sustainability. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal recognized Hogan’s success by naming him 2012 Executive of the Year.
“It was a gamble, but there is so much pressure on water resources today,” Hogan says. “There are four billion people striving for the middle class. Water is so fundamental to their success.”
Hogan feels that the business is successful in part because of its principles. “I’m part of a great company with great values,” he says. “We’re not just committed to winning. We’re committed to winning right.”
Hogan’s decision to enter the water business was rooted in personal history. Before attending MIT, he spent two years in the United States Coast Guard Academy. At the Institute, he studied in the Department of Civil Engineering’s water resources division, and following graduation he worked as a hydrologist, modeling watersheds.
“At MIT, I really learned to think,” he says. “The water resources department was demanding and always kept me engaged. The training I had, particularly my ability to model things, is something that I’ve applied pretty aggressively in my professional life.”
Hogan, who earned his MBA at the University of Texas at Austin in 1981, joined Pentair as an executive vice president in 1998 and was appointed chairman in 2002. In the 1990s, before joining Pentair, he served as president at Carrier and vice president at Pratt & Whitney. Earlier, he was an executive at General Electric and a consultant at McKinsey.
He and his wife, Sara, whom he met through classmate Joel Dewey ’77, have been married for 32 years and have two daughters: Emily, a social-media marketer, and Kelly, a biologist.