Tom Rowbotham, vice president of supply chain, Uponor North America


Industry veteran Tom Rowbotham is developing and leading sourcing strategy as the new vice president of supply chain at Apple Valley-based Uponor North America.

In this new role, Rowbotham’s responsibilities at Uponor include leading continuous improvement and lean initiatives in areas including supply planning, production scheduling, transportation and inventory. Uponor Inc., based in Finland, makes plumbing and indoor climate systems.

“Everything I do is steeped in looking at the lean model,” Rowbotham said. “When you look at it through the lens of continuous improvement you’re always looking to improve the customer experience.”

Rowbotham has 15 years of experience in operations and supply-chain management, most recently as senior director of operations and supply chain at Minneapolis-based Sleep Number. He previously was director of global materials and inventory at Polaris Industries, where he gained international industry experience.

Rowbotham, who has an MBA in finance and operations from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., also has worked in operations and supply chain roles in Arkansas and Connecticut with divisions of Danaher Corp.

The growth opportunity he sees at Uponor, Rowbotham said, remind him of his experience at Polaris.

“I see a lot of similarities here with Uponor as far as it being poised for growth,” he said. “The other piece of the puzzle was Uponor’s relationship with the community and how it interacts and gives back.

Q: What are your priorities at Uponor?

A: One of those is tightening up our production planning process to maximize that as we grow. The other one is the customer experience as it relates to on-time delivery and satisfying our customers’ requirements. Everything we do hinges on that customer experience.

Q: Why is continuous improvement a high priority for you?

A: It’s a mind-set in which you approach problems and issues from a view of safety, quality, delivery and cost. They’re all important but there’s an order of operation there that is extremely important about the way you approach things. That’s a philosophy I was taught early in my career and it resonates with me personally. It applies in business as well as in everyday life.

Q: How is your international experience helping you at Uponor?

A: I’ve had a lot of experience in Asia, Europe and Mexico. Business is business but there are different flavors and having a parent company in Europe, it does pay to have had experience working with a European culture and mind-set. They approach problems a little differently so this gives you another perspective.