Q&A: National Sales Manager, Angela Grieb, Discusses the Plumbing and Manufacturing Industries - General Pipe Cleaners

Q&A: National Sales Manager, Angela Grieb, Discusses the Plumbing and Manufacturing Industries

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Recently, Angela Grieb was promoted to national sales manager at General Pipe Cleaners. Angela has been at the company for 19 years and brings over 30 years of manufacturing experience to her new position. General spoke with Angela to learn more about her and about being a woman in the plumbing and manufacturing industries.

 

  • What year did you start working for General Pipe Cleaners and what made you decide to join the company?

In 2005, the factory I was working for in Clarion, PA, was closing, and there weren’t many opportunities for employment in the area. I began searching the Greater Pittsburgh area with the intention of commuting. When I saw the ad for General Wire Spring Company, I thought it would be a good fit, even though I’d need to relocate. I liked the idea of working for a small, family-owned, and operated company. After meeting with the owners, I knew this would be a great place to work. They are here every day, and their doors are always open. They care about their product and their employees. I felt at home almost immediately.

  • What was your role(s) at General Pipe Cleaners?

I was originally hired as the executive assistant with the traditional duties of sending faxes, writing and distributing memos, etc. However, as time went on, I expanded that role beyond the normal scope of that title to include sales and marketing support and human resources. When I learned the company was planning to hire outside talent for the assistant national sales manager position, I made a sales pitch for them to give me the opportunity. I must have been convincing because they awarded me with the position and, subsequently, the position of national sales manager.

  • Have you been involved with any products?

That’s one of the great things about working here. When a new idea for a product or product improvement is brought up, the employees are asked for their thoughts and opinions. I’ve been able to contribute to the development of several products and processes during my tenure.

  • Can you tell us about being a woman in a plumbing industry that is predominantly populated by men?

Overall, I do think that the world has adjusted well to women in traditionally male roles. That’s not to say I haven’t encountered an occasional person who refuses to take my word on authority and asks to speak to the “man in charge.” But overall, almost everyone in the industry has received me very well. I imagine that it’s probably more difficult for women plumbers – that’s a physical job, and those women are perhaps more likely to face more prejudice and stereotyping than I’ve encountered.

  • What is your favorite part about working for General Pipe Cleaners?

I enjoy working for a small, family-owned business. I know everyone here. I can talk to any owner at just about any time about anything. You don’t get that with most employers.

  • What was it like to see the industry go through so many changes and to be a part of a company that has adapted to those changes?

It’s fantastic to be a part of a company that has maintained the same family of ownership and remained productive and relevant for almost 100 years. You don’t get there by accident, and there aren’t a lot of companies out there who can claim that heritage. I’m proud to work for General Pipe Cleaners. 

  • How have you seen the drain cleaning industry change over the years?

When I started at General, inspection cameras were a new technology. We didn’t have flat-screen TVs back then, so the monitors were enormous, heavy units and used VCRs to record the inspection. Now, we have entire command modules with the monitor, recording device, microphone and more, in a package a fraction of the size. Few knew about inspection cameras, and now everyone has one.

Flexible shaft technology is the newest trend in drain cleaning. It was a concept borrowed from the pipe relining industry and modified to make drain cleaners lighter, safer, and more efficient.

What’s the next big thing? I’m guessing that AI will be important in the not-so-distant future. It’s already pervading other related industries, so I think we’re on the verge of another drain-cleaning revolution.

  • What do you think has allowed General Pipe Cleaners to be successful for so many years?

We’re a US-based company with the vast majority of products made right here. We strive to use as many US made components in all of our products as much as possible. It’s also an informal office. We’re all on one floor with the factory below us, so if you need to talk to an owner, an engineer, a builder, etc., you can walk right over and have that talk. I think it helps us act as a team and facilitates problem-solving. Being a smaller company with owners who are so involved in the day-to-day operations allows us to pivot more quickly than larger companies.

  • When you’re not at work, what do you do in your spare time?

I am an NRA-certified range safety officer and an NRA-certified basic pistol instructor. I find it extremely rewarding to teach new shooters how to use a handgun safely and effectively. So, when I’m not traveling (and sometimes even when I am), you might find me on the pistol range.

  • How do your skills as a pistol instructor influence your position as national sales manager?

Training newbies on pistols has really helped me to hone my skills as a presenter and a teacher. It has also helped me to achieve more patience, discipline, and, more than anything else, confidence. Every time I teach a new student, I learn something, too. It’s the same with this job.

  • What’s on your bucket list?

I want to go to Africa. Meet the Massi warriors. Take a safari through Kenya. Shop the bazaars in Morocco. Visit the pyramids of Egypt. Explore Petra.

  • What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

I performed in a public theater for several years before moving to Pittsburgh. My last role was Rita in the two-person play, “Educating Rita”, which was my most challenging role.

For more information about General’s tools and equipment, visit drainbrain.com, or contact the Drain Brains® at General at 800-245-6200.

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