March 2015, Vol. 70, No. 3


R.S. Technical Services Expands, Re-Tools Under New Leadership

R.S. Technical Services Inc. (RST), following the sudden loss of founder and chief executive officer Rod Sutliff last year, has regained its equilibrium and is now forging ahead under the new corporate vision of the founder’s son, Mike Sutliff.

With a solid management background from his own rental company of five locations and 40 employees, Sutliff has the support of his siblings in helming RST into a new era that combines proven business processes with a “more is better” approach to everything from research and development to customer service.

“Traditionally, when a company comes under new management, the first thing that happens is that jobs are cut and everyone gets nervous,” says the firm’s inside sales and marketing coordinator, Kelli Loux. “But that’s not happening here. Change can be difficult for some people, but from what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s going to be great for the company and our customers.”

Her optimism is a reflection of Sutliff’s vision for the company, which recently celebrated its 30 years in business. “I’m from the rental industry, but I love the CCTV business and wish I’d have gotten into it a lot sooner,” he says. “It’s a real challenge, a lot of fun and exciting!”

Sutliff realizes he has big shoes to fill, and is sensitive to perceptions both inside and outside the company. “I’ve been at this just four months and I don’t want to change everything overnight and scare anyone away,” he says, but he’s motivated by the drive and work ethic shared by his entire family. “I want to see a continuation of the high quality and service RST is known for. I see the potential for a lot of growth.”

This explains staff expansions when contractions might be more expected. “Nobody’s going away,” he says. “In fact, we’re expanding the service staff. I’m interested in being out there in front, at the counter and on the phone, where experience gets shared and the stories are real, not theory.”

He admits that his comfort zone is more in the customer service area, but doesn’t shy away from the contrast between him and his father. “My dad was a good guy to deal with, and customers appreciated that. His expertise was in R&D because he was an engineer from the word go. I may be the new president, but I’m no engineer,” he allows.

“A good leader surrounds himself with smart, capable people, especially in areas that aren’t his personal strength. RST has always invested in our product development staff, and I intend to continue that tradition. We have added personnel in that area already, to continue to lead the industry in innovation and support our customers’ needs.”

Other hallmarks of Sutliff’s vision for the company’s future include increased productivity, enabled by new machine shop equipment and upgrades to facilities and the IT department. “I see a huge future here, and am building the foundation to make that happen. U.S. infrastructure is a trending topic, and we’re gearing up to respond to the demand we know is coming for our customers whose job it is to inspect, repair and rebuild that infrastructure.”

Already, retooling on the manufacturing floor was prompted by Sutliff’s dedication to the history of unquestioned quality and responsiveness established by his dad, and respected in the industry.

“I’m looking for high quality at every level of our operation,” he explains. “We’re going to be designing for tighter production tolerances, and increasing staff in installation to avoid bottlenecks. We’re looking at what we need to do to provide quicker delivery to our purchase customers, and building up our available inventory of loaner equipment for the service department. My background allows me to see us providing rental equipment, to give our customers more options to fit what makes sense for their individual needs.

“We’re keenly aware that we have two primary types of clientele: individual contractors and municipal works departments. They have different needs, and today’s market structures allow us to cater to those needs more specifically than ever before.” Giving these customers what they want at an affordable price is key, he says. “We actively seek direct input from customers and dealers.”

Sutliff hints at a possible new location in Kentucky, “Because they’re booming on the east coast. Maybe [my vision is] a little aggressive for just four months in, but I want folks to know that all the things they’ve come to love about the RST corporate family culture won’t be going away, they’ll just be getting stronger.”

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