How an Innovative Culture Helps Us Better Take Care of the Boss

To fully commit to an innovative culture, the inspiration for new and improved products can come from just about anywhere and anyone, especially employees and customers. However, it takes more than just a mindset to pull off an innovative culture; it also takes tremendous focus and room for failure along the way. The 14-year journey it took to bring A.Y. McDonald’s Repair/Cut-In Curb Stop to life shows just how important it is for a manufacturer to invest in the proper resources and processes that lead to the creation of such groundbreaking products!

Back in 2003, an A.Y. McDonald customer came to us with the idea for a new and improved product – the long body curb stop. This part could eliminate a joint when replacing an existing curb stop and connection when additional length is required because removal of the existing curb stop caused the replacement gap to be longer than the standard curb stop. The long body curb stop would be necessary wherever a longer lay length shut off valve is required to make up the difference in the lay length of an existing valve and remaining lay length once the valve and tubing is removed. Fast forward to 2017 and the A.Y. McDonald Repair/Cut-In Curb Stop was launched. Consisting of a no-lead brass construction with a variety of end connections available, this problem-solving product has a 300 PSI rating with “blow out proof” EPDM port seals that support a PTFE coated brass ball for ease of operation. The Repair/Cut-In Curb Stop’s best selling point is its ability to eliminate two potential leak joints: a stub of pipe and an additional coupling. See below for a visual as to how this product works.

The question is: why did it take 14 years for the long body curb stop to come into existence? While the answer isn’t easily explained, it comes down to focus. Identifying a good idea is not the end of the innovation process – it’s just the beginning. However, it takes resources, dedication, and focus in order to transform that idea into a reality. Until we had the Innovation Center and the resources that come along with it, not every good idea made it to the finish line. Therefore, right after the Innovation Center opened its doors in 2016, our sales team submitted the long body curb stop idea for a second time as they knew there was a new process in place for reviewing, evaluating, and executing such ideas.

The A.Y. McDonald Repair/Cut-In Curb Stop may appear just like any other product launch but the story behind its concept to creation is anything but ordinary. The Innovation Center allows ideas like this one to get a lot more attention now as there is greater focus on new product development and a process for handling ideas that results in greater success. While we don’t love that we couldn’t or didn’t make this product happen sooner, we do love the fact that, with the investment in innovation and the focus on solving challenges that arise in the field, we were able to make it happen. In addition, our efforts have not gone unnoticed as the customer that suggested the long body curb stop idea in 2003 recently paid a visit to our Dubuque headquarters and commended us for listening and acting upon his suggestion!

In order to create an innovative product, a manufacturer must be willing to accept more failure than success throughout the process. Thanks to the A.Y. McDonald Innovation Center, we now have the proper environment to bounce concepts and ideas off of and to even bring them to life. Without the focus dedicated to an innovative culture, problem-solving products such as the Repair/Cut-In Curb Stop would never have been in existence. Each and every day, we find more and more ways in which the Innovation Center helps better take care of the boss (our customer)!