Even as he begins his tenure running a worldwide company, Switzerland County native Ken Roberts still points to his beginnings on the family farm here as setting a pattern for his life and career.
Roberts is the new President of Delta Faucet Company, a global company headquartered in Indianapolis that is such a familiar brand, nearly everyone has a Delta Faucet product in their home. Along with the Delta brand, the company also manufactures Brizo and Peerless brands — and continues to grow around the world as the leader in faucet technology.
And that world leader is now being led by a man from Switzerland County.
“I’ve moved from the presidency of MASCO Canada, which is the MASCO — I’ll call it plumbing business — throughout Canada; and now I’ve moved back and am President of Delta Faucet Company. That’s the overall Delta Faucet business globally.”
Roberts assumed his new duties with a transition period that began on October 1st, so for the past month he has been splitting his time between helping his replacement in Canada get up to speed while transitioning into his new role back in Indiana with Delta.
“Effective November 1st, everything was completed and now I’m full time in the role,” Roberts said.
And that transition has caused Roberts to put quite a few miles on his vehicle, as he and wife Kate and children transition from living in Canada to what will be their new home in Indianapolis.
“Right now I’m splitting my time. My youngest, Ben, is a senior in high school this year; and my wife and I didn’t want to move him; so Kate and Ben are staying in London (Ontario, Canada) until the end of the school year; so I’m spending the week down in Indy, and then going back to Canada for the weekend.”
The son of Bill and Virginia Roberts of near East Enterprise, Roberts graduated from Switzerland County High School in 1984, and then attended Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. That began a professional journey that would not only take him around the world, but also back to school.
“After I graduated from Rose-Hulman, I was recruited into an engineering training program at GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati,” Roberts said. “I was there for three years, and it was kind of a rotational training program, so every six months I did a different job there. Then, at the end of those three years, you may recall that was right after the Berlin Wall fell, I was on the military side of the business and they were reducing their work, and I wanted to go back to graduate school, anyway, so I took a voluntary layoff from GE and was accepted to Northwestern’s Kellogg Business School. I went there full time for two years; and did a specialized MBA focused on people who wanted to be in the manufacturing sector.”
Roberts said that once he had finished his MBA, he got recruited by MASCO Corporation; offering him a job at Delta Faucet in August of 1993.
MASCO Corporation is the global parent company of several companies — one of which is Delta Faucet Company.
After he began his career with Delta, Roberts again got the chance to move East — Far East.
“Delta has a technical services group in China, and I went over there for three years to establish the technical services,” he said. “They do engineering. They do quality testing. They do a lot of going out to suppliers that we use in China and inspecting their factories and inspecting their products before they leave the factory so that we know that it’s up to the standards that we want.”
After three years in China; Roberts came home in 2007, and oversaw four other jobs through Delta before he moved to Canada.
“I’ve bounced around a little bit,” he laughed. “We moved to Canada in August of 2015; and of course now we’re moving back.”
Roberts said that his responsibilities in Canada centered on handling the plumbing brands for MASCO.
“MASCO Corporation is a building products company,” Roberts said. “We have a number of brands. MASCO you may have never heard of, but our brands, you have. For example: Behr Paint, Kilz Paint, and of course, Delta. We have other plumbing companies. In Canada, what MASCO has done is create one business that manages all of those brands. So I had responsibility for the Delta brands, but also other brands.”
Now in his new position, Roberts will be directing Delta Faucet Company worldwide. The company incorporates three brands: Delta, a luxury faucet brand named Brizo, and a DIY-focused product brand called Peerless.
“A couple of things make it different than what I was doing before,” he said. “Delta worldwide, we also have responsibility for maintaining the equity of the Delta brand and our other brands. In my new role I’ll be responsible for maintaing the equity of those brands, which will include advertising and marketing and things like that. Also, Delta differentiates itself with innovation — we have a lot of innovative products; so I’ll be responsible for managing the R&D (research and development) efforts for Delta, as well. And then, of course, the normal sales and marketing and other aspects of running the business. Delta also does quite a bit of manufacturing in the U.S. We have four factories in the U.S. and one in Canada, so I’m responsible for those U.S.-based factories, as well.”
The Delta factories in the U.S. are located in Greensburg, Indiana; Jackson, Tennessee; and one in Morgantown, Kentucky; and Lapeer, Michigan — so along with its headquarters in Carmel, Indiana, it’s a very Midwestern corporation.
After 25 years in the company, Roberts is not only very proud of his tenure with the company, but also takes pride that he has risen to this new position within the company.
“It’s very exciting, very gratifying,” Roberts said. “It’s a little nerve-racking, as well — it’s a big job. Kate and I are also excited that this will be moving back to Indianapolis will put us only about two hours away from Vevay and the farm that we have down there.”
Ken and Kate Roberts will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in July of next year.
The couple has three children: daughter Ariana is a senior at Indiana University in Bloomington and will be graduating this Spring; older son Jon is a freshman at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada; and youngest son, Ben, currently a senior in high school in Canada, has his sights set of following in his father’s footsteps and attending Rose-Hulman.
So, as his career has taken him around the world, Roberts still harkens back to his roots growing up here in Switzerland County — where a small town farmboy has really made it big.
“Without a doubt, if you grow up in a small town and you’re in a small town; and eventually you go out into the broader world working for a bigger company, you’re probably going to live in a bigger city and there’s going to be a lot to learn about that,” Roberts said. “But I found that, overall, without a doubt my small town farm upbringing, I always consider a benefit, not a detriment. The work ethic that you get growing up out in the country definitely has done me very well. I grew up around people out in the small town, farming world; and then I went out and worked with ‘big city’ people, and you kind of learn how to get along with all different types of people, doing that. I would say, that the education that I got at Switzerland County High School was obviously pretty good. It was good enough that I was able to get through Rose-Hulman and then get through Northwestern. I would definitely encourage anybody. Growing up in a small town is not something that’s going to hold you back.”