Ajita Rajendra

Ajita Rajendra, chairman and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based global water heater manufacturing firm A.O. Smith Corp., was the keynote speaker at the 2017 BizTimes M&A Forum. Rajendra described how he and other leaders at A.O. Smith have transformed the company over the past 20 years through divestitures and acquisitions.

“Aquasana brings the skillset of selling directly to consumers online. We need to be able to merchandise on this (smartphone) screen.”

“A wonderful thing about the water heater market is about 90 percent of it is replacement, and it works – people take one cold shower and then they replace their water heater. And it doesn’t matter what the economic conditions are.”

“For our long-term health, we want to be in businesses and markets that are growing.”

“If a customer calls me, I return the call before the sun goes down.”

“We are obsessive about our customers and understanding what they want and responding to them.”

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