July 13, 2018
By Owen Hurst
Recently Panel Builder & Systems Integrator was invited to Rittal Canada’s Head office in Mississauga, Canada to have a tour of their operation and a sit down with President Tim Rourke. First and foremost, I must admit that I was thoroughly impressed with Rittal’s operation. The facility was extremely well maintained and organized in a manner that clearly provides efficiency between all of the teams whether front of house or back.
Tim himself, guided us through the facility, highlighting their focus on productivity and asset management. Rittal’s focused and skilled team is clearly all in on the company philosophy, “We enjoy satisfying customers’ wishes and challenges with innovative solutions.” The philosophy itself is the product of employee input.
Tim is a very down to earth gentleman who holds a deep pool of knowledge whether discussing the various products offered by Rittal or the numerous emerging technologies and trends within the industry. Further, he is a president that is constantly seeking to expand his awareness of customer needs by talking with panel builders and system integrators to learn their needs and apply them to Rittal’s product range. By offering to work with their clients to design enclosures that are readily prepared to accept necessary components, they are eliminating issues and saving time for their clients down the road. It is a service they offer to all clients, regardless of order size.
Panel Builder & Systems Integrator had the opportunity during the tour to sit down with Tim and ask him some direct questions about his career and position at Rittal Canada.
1) Tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Oakville and lived there until I went to Brock University in St. Catharines. Since then I have moved around a little – Mississauga, Chatham, Kitchener and live in Hamilton now. I have 2 daughters and my fiancée has 2 daughters as well. We love spending time with the family and our newest member Darwin, our English Golden Retriever. When I am not working I like to run and cycle and spend time with friends.
2) Tell us a little about your education and early employment?
I have an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from Brock with a major in Marketing. I graduated in 1991 and my first job was with the agent that represented Rittal in Canada. I worked there for 2.5 years and then left the industry for a while. During the next 2 years I traveled Europe for 2 months and spent a few months installing taillights on Chrysler mini vans in Windsor. Before my return to enclosure industry I was working for a charity and was responsible for securing corporate sponsorships to fund the closed captioning of television programming across Canada. In 1995 I returned to Rittal as an outside sales rep responsible for Eastern and Northern Ontario.
3) What was the path that lead you to your current position?
It was a really interesting path. I have been fortunate enough to have several different careers without having to change companies to do it. I have worked as Regional Sales Manager responsible for Ontario and Western Canada at different times. I had a business development and marketing role for a period and was tasked with establishing our technical services group that provides high level tech support to our sales team and customers. My final role prior to my current, was 5 years as the operations manager where it was quite an awakening for someone with primarily sales experience in their history. It was a tremendous challenge and came at a time when we were consolidating regional warehouses into a new, larger central distribution centre, our current HQ.
4) What is the biggest challenge with being the President of Rittal?
Finding quality people. As we expand and grow it has become increasingly difficult in today’s labour market to find the right people. We never settle so it takes a little longer and avoiding the temptation to add someone who isn’t the ideal fit can be difficult. It is very much worthwhile though. Additionally, we are always finding creative ways to offer new opportunities and challenges to members of the team that want to grow. This can be a challenge as we re a small company of 50ish people.
5) What is the greatest benefit of being the President?
Seeing the team grow and experience success is the best part of the job. Seeing people accomplish things they never thought possible is very motivating. Helping to develop relationships and strategies that drive that growth and success is so rewarding.
6) You are a very active and present President; how important do you feel it is to be visible and participating in industry events and to be an active member of the company culture?
It is very important. Business is about people and it is important to be actively speaking to customers, partners, suppliers, media about what is happening in their business and what is important to them. That helps us understand what is important and where we need to adapt and change in order to continue to satisfy their needs. Technology makes it easy to avoid face to face interaction if you want to, so it is important to be active in meeting with people.
7) How do you ensure that Rittal stays ahead of the changing technology of the industry?
Fortunately, we have the global organization behind us. There is a tremendous investment in R&D and product development. Solutions like our Blue e+ AC units, our Hygienic Design enclosures, our Liquid Cooling Package for data centre cooling are a few examples of products where there is no equal in the market. Designed by forward thinking people in our product management team who are looking at where the industry demands are going. The full integrated solution we can provide starts with ePlan and moves through the enclosure solution, configuration tools and the automation technology to assist in building the control panels. For example, we utilize Perforex machines for drilling and tapping mounting panels and putting pushbutton and HMI cut-outs in enclosure doors.
8) How Does Rittal Distinguish Itself within the Industry?
New industry advances are going to continue to drive the industry and companies to integrate the technologies and the communication between the technologies. Where I see us making the biggest impact is in the level of assistance, support and service we can provide to our customers. We currently produce 2D cad layouts and 3D models of solutions for our customers as well as provide complete value add modification and assembly services. Companies are seeking increased support and ways to become more competitive that extend beyond the basic price discussion.
9) Do you see any particular industry sector that is advancing at a faster pace than others (Food & beverage, Water/Waste Water, Automotive, Healthcare, Mining, Oil & Gas….)?
All of these industries offer great potential for Rittal. Food and Beverage is a key target for us with our hygienic design enclosures and we have seen our business in this segment explode in 2017. Water/waste water and mining are also very active for us as we are having tremendous success offering motor control panel type solutions utilizing our modular enclosures and busbar systems that are certified up to 3200A. These industries are looking for solutions that offer more flexibility and faster turnaround than a traditional Motor Control Centre (MCC) and our solution does that. Oil and gas is always a major industry for us and experienced a tremendous recovery in 2017 which we expect to continue in 2018. The common element of our success in these areas is our ability to offer a unique solution for their unique challenges. That is the essence of Rittal: Unique and industry leading technology solutions and our ability to create “Custom from Standard” solutions.
10) If you could deliver a message to those considering entering the enclosure, or more generally the electrical or automation industry what would it be?
I believe that the electrical industry as a whole suffers from the same challenge we do, and that is an overall image issue. Careers in the electrical industry I think are viewed as boring and not offering interesting challenges or growth opportunities. Nothing could be further from the truth. The technologies and innovative culture of the manufacturing companies in the electrical industry are incredibly dynamic and rapidly changing. Whether you are technically, commercially or creatively driven there are amazing places to build a career. We were recently recognized by Electro-Federation Canada for our Blue e+ marketing campaign and I was absolutely blown away by the creativity of the other nominees and award recipients. Marketing creativity is not just for the IT start-ups and is something that you wouldn’t necessarily see as a career opportunity when you look at this industry.
Additionally, the electrical industry offers tremendous job security as we become more and more reliant on things that plug into the wall.
Tim’s insights into the industry provide a great deal of direction for Rittal that is carrying it forward on the cutting edge of control technology by offering simple solutions and products tailored to the needs of those who will take their enclosures into the next phase of becoming fully active control panels.