Richards quickly realized the work setting, where nozzles, valves, fittings and couplings for the petroleum industry were produced, was a challenge he enjoyed far more than sitting behind a Wall Street desk. So he stayed and bought the company in 1961.
Over the next 46 years, Richards grew the firm from six employees to an enterprise with nearly 200 workers. Under Richards’ leadership, the company created a distribution organization, expanded the product line, acquired related companies and successfully entered the global market.
The company’s marketing strategy was brilliant in its simplicity. In the early years, when the company was small, Richards would go into the back door of industrial plants and sell directly to the maintenance people, building his business on end-users, one or two valves at a time. Over time, their methods became more sophisticated, but Richards never lost his affinity for the personal touch, whether with customers or employees.
Richards’ commitment to his employees was demonstrated when, upon retirement, he sold the company to his employees. The move, not without risk, had been a long-time goal of Richards’ and it gave him great satisfaction.
Richards supported organizations and events such as the Cincinnati Country Day School, Ault Park and the May Festival. In retirement, Richards remained busy with grandchildren, tennis and flying his two planes. He was married to wife Mary for 49 years.
Those who knew Richards well described him as a “no-nonsense” man. Yet a personal goal of Richards, who died in April 2017, was to live his life by making at least one person happy every day.