Brown Deer-based Badger Meter Inc. has promoted Ken Bockhorst to president, about six months after hiring him with an eye towards the company’s future.
“In the short time that Ken has been with us he’s made significant contributions to our company,” Badger Meter chairman and chief executive officer Rich Meeusen said in announcing the promotion at the company’s annual meeting.
Bockhorst left Menomonee Falls-based Actuant Corp. for Badger Meter in September for the newly created position of senior vice president and chief operating officer. When Meeusen introduced him on the company’s next earnings call he said the hire was a way to set Badger Meter up for the future. At the time, he acknowledged he and Rick Johnson, Badger Meter chief financial officer, are getting older and a leadership transition would need to take place in the coming years.
“I’m very honored to have the opportunity to be the president of a company like Badger Meter,” Bockhorst said Friday. “To Rich and the board, thank you for the opportunity.”
Bockhorst also discusses a shift in the company’s acquisition strategy. Badger Meter has acquired several of its largest regional distributors in recent years, including Florida-based Innovative Metering Solutions Inc. in April for $8.5 million.
The company spent $40.9 million in cash and settlement of pre-existing receivables since 2014 to acquire the four distributors. Bockhorst said the deals allow the company to improve its customer service, which has become increasingly important as the amount of technology in water meters has increased.
“We’re done with that strategy now,” Bockhorst said of acquiring dealers.
Badger Meter held two strategic meetings in December and January to identify global macro trends it could leverage. Those meeting led to the identification of 150 potential acquisition targets and the company has trimmed the list to about 80 at this point, Bockhorst said.
The companies center around new products or technologies in flow measurement, sensors, analytics and controls, but Bockhorst said geographic expansion is also an emphasis on the company’s plans.
“We definitely want to break out of this idea where 90 percent of our revenue is North America,” he said.
Badger Meter has been reaching out to companies directly and is also using a third-party group to contact potential targets. Bockhorst said the plan is bring the list down to near 40 in the near future and shrink it even more before moving ahead on any deals.
“It’s a very disciplined process that we’re going through where we’re trying to identify companies that would bring strategic value rather than being reactionary to opportunities,” he said.