Fresh from closing on its second acquisition in a year, South Barrington-based RTM Engineering Consultants (RTM) is on a roll.
Having grown 100 percent from 2011 to 2012, the consulting engineering services firm recently made Inc. magazine’s 2013 “Inc. 5000” list of the nation’s fastest growing companies — one of only two Illinois engineering firms to make the cut. Its clients include architectural firms and also Fortune 500 companies such as Walgreen Co., Chase Bank, Target Corp., and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., plus institutions like The University of Chicago and Northwestern University.
After keeping business afloat through the recession — and with construction markets finally rebounding — Tony Mirchandani, CEO, is enjoying the opportunity to propel RTM to a new level.
“Many smaller outfits were struggling, but we hung in there,” he says. “We designed our business with future growth in mind and waited for the economy to show signs of a recovery.”
It’s a rebirth of sorts for the established firm. RTM was founded in 1981 by Mirchandani’s father, Ramesh, who kept the shop small, focusing on the design of heating/ventilation/air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing systems in the industrial, commercial, retail, and healthcare sectors, among others.
At first, Mirchandani followed in his father’s footsteps as an electrical engineer. But he eventually went another route, launching a dot-com start-up, then taking the helm at RTM in 2001 while simultaneously earning his MBA at Northwestern.
More than a decade later, the son’s vision for the family-owned company is bold.
“Our goal is to build a national engineering firm while continuing to over serve our clients in a way that, traditionally, you only find at a small boutique firm like RTM.”
Toward that end, RTM last year bought NWCE, an Elgin-based mechanical-electrical-plumbing (MEP) design firm. And just this month, it expanded its capabilities by acquiring a civil engineering firm: Applied Engineering in McHenry.
Scott DiGilio, who had been president of Applied Engineering, is now head of the new civil engineering department at RTM.
“It’s a real win-win for our companies to join forces,” Mirchandani says. “By offering both civil and MEP engineering under one roof, we can do so much more for our clients. And with streamlined coordination between the disciplines, we’re able to pass the cost savings along to our clients. At the same time, we’re bolstering our marketing, operations, and business development efforts — offering clients the same small business feel, now backed by the engine of a large firm.”
Mirchandani points to similarities in client base, culture and design philosophy as making the latest merger a natural fit.
“We both serve large retailers, and those relationships are unique,” he says. “The way we service clients is also similar. We operate as a strategic partner, not just engineers focused on an individual job. Both firms have been successful over the past decades because we have over served our clients.”
RTM now has more than 40 team members across its offices in South Barrington, McHenry and Chicago, and there are plans to open additional offices in Iowa and Wisconsin next year.
Through the growth, maintaining financial stability has been paramount.
“To ensure sustainable long-term growth, we have hired independent financial and strategic advisors in addition to setting up an independent board,” Mirchandani says.
Earlier this year, RTM was singled out for outstanding business practices when it was named to the 2013 Circle of Excellence by PSMJ Resources, Inc., a management consulting firm for the architecture, engineering and construction industries.
Meanwhile, the company is striving for another kind of recognition: to be known as a great place for young engineers to work.
“There’s a lot of talk about the Millennial Generation in our industry,” Mirchandani says. “What we have found is that they’re looking for a lot of flexibility and work-life integration versus separation, so we’re doing things differently than many of the old-line companies in this very mature industry.”
Formal training, hands-on opportunities, and mentoring are key components of the company’s proactive approach to cultivating talent.
“We want to transfer 30 years of knowledge in just 10 years from our senior team members to younger associates — rather than wait until they naturally absorb all the knowledge on their own,” Mirchandani says. “This represents one aspect of how we’re training the future leaders in our industry.”
Recently, one longtime employee sent this message to staff before leaving RTM to move abroad: “You don’t know how good you have it,” wrote Craig Young, a project engineer.
“At a larger firm, a new engineer would do menial work for the first two to three years and wouldn’t be exposed to real design opportunities,” Young later said. “But here, you’re thrown into the pool to get involved and use your skills immediately. You’re able to get meaningful work accomplished.”
For all the young talent, the company’s founder remains the heart and soul of RTM. Ramesh Mirchandani, 68, still works full time at the company and is its foremost mentor.
“He gets involved in the hardest, hairiest jobs we have,” the younger Mirchandani says. “He loves an engineering challenge, and he’s sharing his passion for design with the next generation.”
Original Article from Daily Herald Business Ledger: http://dhbusinessledger.com/Content/Suburban-Trends-and-Issues/Suburban–Trends-and-Issues/Article/How-suburban-company-engineered-a-reinvention/87/172/10233