By Ryan Howard, President RMH Systems, Inc.
TS Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” I have zero clue what he was applying the philosophy to, but it resonates with me when I reflect on the growth of RMH Systems. In quarter 1 of 2021, RMH Systems surpassed 100 employees for the first time in our company’s history. When I was fourteen years old, mowing the lawn of the old building, Riekes Material Handling (now RMH Systems) clocked in around thirty people. It’s impressive and exciting to see how far this company has come over a few decades. That type of growth requires strategic vision, creativity, discipline, the right people, and risk tolerance (and management).
My Grandfather and Father have been at the helm of this company for thirty years. One of the many things I have learned is that risk isn’t a bad thing. Calculated, strategic, growth-oriented risk is worth going after. No good idea or innovative business has developed without risk involved. I’m certainly not suggesting that all risk is good risk – that is far from the truth. Each person and business has its respective threshold. I’m suggesting that a business that is willing to take on manageable risk can significantly separate itself from the pack – or at least drive organic growth at a rate that wasn’t possible before.
Opportunities We’ve Pursued
Since 2017, RMH Systems pursued three initiatives that represent our strategic capacity for risk:
- 2017 acquisition of a competitor in Twin Cities: we acquired a company of 28 people. It wasn’t our first acquisition, but it was the largest to date by a significant amount. You never have the full picture when you sign the paperwork, but RMH Minnesota is on pace for double-digit growth over 2019.
- 2019 development of our Robotics Division: robotic automation had been a peripheral service that we often subcontracted. An opportunity presented itself and we dove in. We’re nearing our 20th robot in the field.
- 2020 hiring. We experienced a significant decrease in business over multiple quarters in 2020. We never decreased our staff or cut wages. In fact, we hired 15 people over the last year.
It’s hard to believe that RMH Systems is now nearing 110 people on the team. That’s over 100% growth over the course of 5-6 years. It’s easy to ‘stick to your knitting’ and stay in your lane. Business is steady, things are fine and manageable. That hasn’t been the approach here at RMH Systems. The constant focus on growth and evolution has been made possible by the core strength of the team Since day one, our team has been comprised of talented individuals that enabled growth to happen.
Undoubtedly, there have been some restless nights and plenty of hurdles to overcome. But when you are able to measure your growth risks, manage it accordingly, and execute – the possibilities are endless. RMH Systems has not been afraid to pursue calculated risk to grow certain markets, add product lines, or add to the team as it makes sense strategically.
It seems all of life is a game of risk mitigation. Gathering information, weighing options, and making decisions. It’s as simple as that. In many mature industries, like ours, companies get complacent with the norm – there’s too much risk in pivoting to newer technologies or structures. RMH Systems has made a commitment to continuous evolution – so we will continue to seek out growth opportunities. Sure, there will be new and unknown risks to further expansion – but that sounds like potential to me.