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Small Squeaks Bring Big Growth: WD-40 CEO

Squeak. Smell. Stink.

Martin Barraud | OJO Images | Getty Images

No, we’re not talking about sentiment out of Wall Street or Washington these days. It’s Garry Ridge’s business strategy for WD-40, the classic brand he’s led since 1997. He doesn’t make acquisitions unless they eliminate squeaks or odors.

WD-40 is in 160 countries. "The U.S. consumer is not the only person in the world,” Ridge says.

“There's a lot squeaks in China and a lot of rust in Russia. We're the boys and girls to look after that. We have to take off our tunnel vision if we want to be global."

When going into new markets, Ridge told CNBC that he prefers to buy the competition.

“You can win market share with time or money or a combination of both. We like to use both. We certainly are looking for acquisition opportunities from niche brands or niche products,” Ridge says.

While economic turmoil has left markets volatile and uncertain, Ridge says that’s a good time for strong businesses to ramp up M&A activity or CapEx.

"You have to be really aware of what's going on around you,” Ridge explained in terms of dealing with market turmoil. “We as leaders of organizations need to be right on the 'bridge' right now making sure we're watching the choppy waters around us and navigating through the unknown."

During times of uncertainty, Ridge says we should go back to basics. “I think we have to go back to the book ‘Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten,” Ridge told CNBC’s "Worldwide Exchange."

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